It’s December! You know what that means right? The holiday season is right around the corner. From Hanukah to Kwanzaa December is a time for family get-togethers and lots of food. So in the spirit of the holiday season, I decided to look up holiday-themed books (and by holiday-themed, I mean books that have a certain holiday as a key part of the plot) and was very disappointed with what I found. Holiday-themed books appear to be synonymous with Christmas books. Even when specifying my search to another holiday, only children or YA novels come up in my search. In light of that, here are 3 reasons why I think we need more diverse holiday-themed fiction for adults.
Whenever I’m reading fiction I am always transported to another world. It’s like body swapping without the side effects. I have not always been around others who are significantly diverse from myself, so books were my gateway to experiencing diversity. By having access to a range of holiday-themed books, I would have the privilege of being able to better understand and explore another person’s culture and background through their perspective. That, in turn, would help foster a sense of appreciation and respect for another culture, which are all important to have in order to be inclusive with others outside of the reading context.
Fictional holiday-themed books for adults (those over 18) are hard to find. In general, age-appropriate books are much more relatable because the audience that the book is targeting is for a specific age demographic. Accordingly, adult books typically feature adults because it makes the book seem more relatable and instigates empathy for the characters in them. On top of that, my age shouldn’t be a barrier in being unable to find diverse holiday-themed books that I can connect and relate to. By not targeting holiday-themed fiction for adults along with children, a culture of exclusion is created based on age since it’s assumed that only children would value or learn from these kinds of stories.
As someone who celebrates Eid, I always have a smile on my face when I pick up a book that accurately and appropriately depicts the holiday that I celebrate (something that doesn’t happen very often, unfortunately). Heck, I’m even happy when a fictional character has a Muslim name, so for them to actually celebrate a holiday that is important to me and my family leaves me feeling overjoyed. I like being able to see a positive reflection of myself in the world of fiction. It shows that a part of my identity matters enough for someone else to take the time to write about it in a book. And who doesn’t want to feel like they matter and are important?
Now that you know why we need more diverse holiday-themed fiction for adults, maybe a couple of years down the road when I’m looking for a holiday book to read during the winter break I may actually have an easier time finding it. Right now though, it is something that I can only hope will move beyond fantasy to becoming an actual reality.