Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors: Why #WeNeedDiverseBooks
How many times have you heard someone say, I'm colorblind, I don't see color, or race doesn't matter to me? It's often said as a badge of honor. People who say it may genuinely believe it's a good thing. However, a better phrase might be I treat everyone equally or I treat people as they would like to be treated.
Acknowledging our differences isn't a bad thing. Our differences that help us see things on a grander scale. Our differences can help us grow and accomplish more. Everyone's experiences and cultures differ in some way, by acknowledging those differences, we have an opportunity to learn from one another.
Children are sensitive to their environments, they notice differences in skin tones, languages, abilities, and lifestyles. They watch us for cues on how they should handle these differences. Being open to discussing these things, at age appropriate levels, give children a chance to develop a positive attitude towards differences.
Books are a great way to expose children to our differences in a positive way. By offering books that feature characters from a variety of backgrounds, children are able to learn about people who are different from them. Children also need to be able to see themselves reflected in the books they read.
Staggering stats: In 2013 where out of 3,200 children’s books published, there were only 93 about African American people. (source)
WE NEED DIVERSE BOOKS is an organization whose mission is to put more books featuring diverse characters into the hands of all children.
SEVEN BENEFITS OF DIVERSE BOOKS via WeNeedDiverseBooks.org
They reflect the world and people of the world
They teach respect for all cultural groups
They serve as a window and a mirror and as an example of how to interact in the world
They show that despite differences, all people share common feelings and aspirations
They can create a wider curiosity for the world
They prepare children for the real world
They enrich educational experiences
You can find out more about We Need Diverse Books HERE
Here's a link to a few children's books we like: HERE
The title of this post is inspires by Rudine Sims Bishop who published an article in 1990 titled “Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors”. The article speaks about how our society has grown with culture, but our books don’t reflect it. She describes that people of color see through windows, looking in at a world that isn’t like their own. Bishop noted, “When children cannot find themselves reflected in the books they read, or when the images they see are distorted, negative, or laughable, they learn a powerful lesson about how they are devalued in the society of which they are a part.” Children are affected by what they see around them, and it helps them to grow. (source)