The Gaithersburg Book Festival will host a live virtual discussion on diversity on Wednesday, June 24, at 7 p.m. on its YouTube channel. The talk, called “How Diverse Stories Can Open Minds and Change the World,” will be moderated by author Wade Hudson, and also feature fellow authors Dhonielle Clayton, Adam Gidwitz and Hena Khan.
Gaithersburg mayor and founder of the festival, Jud Ashman, thinks this a topic that necessitates discussion.
“This is on everybody’s minds. This is a national public issue, but it has historical roots. It’s the kind of conversation that begs for perspective. And that’s what books do. Books help give us perspective about the world we’re in,” says Ashman.
The discussion, which will be appropriate for audiences of all ages, will explore how diverse voices in storytelling can help bring about empathy and understanding and hopefully inspire young people on how they can change the world.
“Books are the most immediate way to get into somebody else’s thoughts and understand someone else’s worldview,” says Ashman. “When you do that, it’s an exercise in empathy. And empathy is the thing that can heal everything.”
The four authors on the panel have all appeared at the festival before and have written about the topics of race in the past.
The Gaithersburg Book Festival recently wrapped up a month-long series of virtual events The festival, now in its 11th year, was moved online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the transition to holding the festival online went “very well,” according to Ashman.
“It’s not a full substitute for having the in-person festival, but it’s pretty good,” he says.