The Jewel Of Gresham Green
Stacy Hawkins Adams 

Stacy Hawkins Adams is a former newspaper reporter and columnist who now serves as an inspirational speaker and freelance writer. She is the author of four contemporary women’s fiction novels, including Watercolored Pearls and the soon-to-be-released The Someday List (January 2009). Visit Her website at

The Benefits of Multicultural Reading

Most of us read fiction to enjoy the experience of being transported to another world through characters who are familiar in some way or whose lives are so different from our own that we’re enthralled.

Multicultural novels offer the added advantage of introducing characters that may not look like, talk like, think like, or live like the readers who come to know them.

When readers are intrigued (and sometimes brave) enough to pick up a book that features people from a culture or race different from their own, or with a plot that delves into issues as foreign to them as another nation, they’re often rewarded by a story that enriches their lives.

Simply put, every time any of us—readers and writers alike—venture outside our comfort zones or familiar territory without judgment or fear, we inevitably become wiser and better people.

Christian fiction authors leading this charge include Sharon Ewell Foster, Marilynn Griffith, Camy Tang, Claudia Mair Burney, Lisa Samson, and Linda Leigh Hargrove, whose characters range from Native American to biracial, with personal issues that span life’s spectrum.

Great books leave readers rooting for characters they’ve connected with and wishing the worst for the protagonists’—and their own—fictional enemies. The bond is deepened chapter by chapter as readers learn what makes a character strong or weak, timid or rebellious, tied to religious rituals or skeptical about God.

In the proverbial “melting pot” of creativity, authors get to pick and choose more than hair color and skin tone, or the shape of a nose and uniqueness of an accent; they develop characters and build scenes that resonate with readers.

Some authors intentionally craft novels so that the cultural implications of a character’s existence are woven into every aspect of the story. Others allow differences between characters to be matter of fact, eliminating the need to announce their presence.

Either way, multicultural fiction can unwittingly help readers recreate the understanding and kinship discovered in a book in their own lives.

In novels like the mainstream best-sellers The Color Purple, The Secret Life of Bees, and The Joy Luck Club, where the characters’ personalities or compelling

circumstances transcend an emphasis on race, gender, or physical shortcomings, readers are drawn to the protagonists’ hearts.

Once that happens, the characters’ obvious differences serve as little more than a backdrop. And readers realize that if they can embrace fictional people unlike themselves, it isn’t too far of a leap for them to do the same with their neighbors or maybe even strangers.

For Christian fiction writers whose books are infused with multicultural elements, the goal is not unlike that of other authors: to create the most compelling and authentic storylines and characters possible, and through that process, draw others to Christ.

However, we also work to create characters who, at the end of the book, value their friendship and mutual admiration more than their differences. The path to this realization isn’t always smooth or comfortable, but as in real life, it’s usually worthwhile.

We paint word pictures of vibrant fictional people who aren’t cookie-cutter clones of what Christians should be but instead reflect the vast representation of people across the world who love God or are struggling to know Him better. Because the truth is we don’t all look alike, talk alike, think alike, or live alike, yet we all have the same opportunity to experience the Master’s transforming love.

Stacy Hawkins Adams Books