Last week, I came across the the concept of windows and mirrors and sliding glass doors as it pertains to literature. Rudine Sims Bishop pioneered the concept and wrote:
"Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be read or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created or recreated by the author. When lighting conditions are just right, however, a window can also be a mirror. Literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection we can see our own lives and experiences as part of the larger human experience. Reading, then, becomes a means of self-affirmation, and readers often seek their mirrors in books." More
As a white family, many of our books are mirrors. My children see themselves and families like ours more often than not in the books we read. So it's really important to me that we find books that are windows and show families and backgrounds that are different than ours. We get a lot of our books from the library but I do keep a running list of books that I want to share as gifts for my boys, our niece, or friends that create a diverse and inclusive bookshelf.
Here's our reading list for little ones, full of book ideas for you to bring mirrors AND windows into your home.
I also wanted to share two of our favorites that are classics and belong in every home:
A Snowy Day - My boys love this book. We read it once a week or so and it's a good one because we can talk similarities (we love winter, sticks, and sledding too!) and differences (Peter is black, he lives in an apartment, etc.).
Last Stop on Market Street - This book is so beautiful. It showcases an intergenerational relationship with a young boy and his grandmother while they ride the bus together. "The urban setting is truly reflective, showing people with different skin colors, body types, abilities, ages, and classes in a natural and authentic manner." - School Library Journal
If you are wondering what these types of conversations can look like as you read with your children, this is A MUST READ: 100 Race Conscious Things to Say To Your Child to Advance Racial Justice.
Additional Book Lists
Coretta Scott King Book Award Winners
A Mighty Girl
Here Wee Read Diverse Books List
1000 Black Girl Books Resource Guide
Your Kids Aren't Too Young To Talk about Race
Instagram Accounts for more book recommendations