Jameil Weldon started reading when she was four, and her love for reading hasn’t faltered. The library is one of her favorite places. She also sets goals on how many books she wants to read every year. Right now, she’s on book number 58 out of 75!
This avid reader also believes everyone should see themselves in the books they read. “Most of my favorite characters were white. Sure, I could relate to them in many ways, but how incredible would it have been for more books to include the diversity in the world? For more of them to look like me?” she says.
I really enjoyed interviewing Jameil Weldon. Read her answers below!
Question: I heard that you have a goal of reading 60 books by the end of the year. How many have you read now? How did you get the idea to count how many books you read? What are some of your favorites so far?
Answer: My original goal was 60 but then I increased it to 75 when I realized I’d hit 60 pretty easily. I am on vacation this week so I finished two books yesterday and officially hit 58 books for the year! I use an app called Goodreads that makes it easy for me to track the books I read and want to read. It also helps me remember which books I’ve read before and which books are ones I’ve just heard about so much that I think I’ve already read them! The job I have means I think about the pandemic all day so I generally use reading time to unwind. Most of my favorite books have been modern romances this year. Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid, More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth, and The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett are some of my favorites so far. I like self-help and non-fiction books, too, so I am trying to work a few more of those back into my reading list now.
Question: Many adults are busy and don’t have a lot of time to read. How do you find time?
Answer: Reading is something that I really enjoy so I make the time. After my kids are asleep, instead of watching TV or a movie, I’ll often choose to read a book. On my lunch break, I usually spend the last 10 minutes or so reading a book. It all adds up!
Question: What’s your favorite way to read a book and why? (paperback, hardcover, digital, or audiobook)
Answer: I like a book I can hold in my hand to give my eyes a break from screen time. I like ebooks because I can read them at night in dark mode with the lights out before I fall asleep Plus they’re infinitely portable so I can read while waiting in line or doing some other boring adult task. I don’t like audiobooks because I feel like they never read quickly enough for me.
Question: Is there a quote from a book or author that you really love?
Answer: I just started a book called Augustown by Kei Miller and these lines stopped me in my tracks. “For here is the truth: each day contains much more than its own hours, or minutes, or seconds. In fact, it would be no exaggeration to say that every day contains all of history.“ I think of history as the interconnectedness of us all. So many moments and times seem to harken back to previous moments and times. And I find, without even trying, that the experiences I’ve had in life build upon each other to prepare me for right now. Then I think about how many people, my ancestors, had to live for seconds, hours, days, years for me to be alive. It’s really incredible if you allow yourself some time with those lines.
Question: If you had to go on a trip and could only bring three books, which books would you bring?
Answer: Oh goodness. This is such a tough question! I would definitely NOT want to choose. Another benefit of ebooks— nearly limitless options to take with you, no extra weight! I also don’t re-read books much anymore. There are so many books out there and my to-be read list already has over 500 titles on it with more books coming out seemingly every day. 🤦🏾♀️ I’ll pick 3 books I really enjoyed, though this list is in constant flux. The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory. I recommend it regularly to other adults. It’s a modern romance. Living with Intent: My Somewhat Messy Journey to Purpose, Peace, and Joy by Mallika Chopra. This one is great for mindfulness. The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander is INCREDIBLE. It’s a memoir and very sad but incredibly well-written. I recommend it a lot, too. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read.
Question: What books did you read when you were a kid?
Answer: I loved The Babysitter’s Club, Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley High. I also loved books by authors Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume. I enjoyed the Boxcar Children, too. I really loved book series because you didn’t have to say goodbye to a beloved character so soon. I still enjoy them as an adult! I have no idea how well most of these books have held up over time.
Question: Why do you think diversity is so important in children’s literature?
Answer: We all want to see ourselves in the things we read. To in some way be able to relate to the characters on the pages. All of my favorite authors as a kid were white. Most of my favorite characters were white. Sure, I could relate to them in many ways, but how incredible would it have been for more books to include the diversity in the world? For more of them to look like me? It expands your world view to read books by and about people who look like you but live very different lives or who look nothing like you but live very similar lives. I love that the books my sons read, and will have to read as they grow, will be more representative of their lives. The world is such a big place. I want that expressed in the things all children read.