This week at ABC Wednesday, W is the letter of focus.
W is for Window.
We all look through windows of our homes expecting to see our neighbourhood, our yard or maybe even someone walking by – something familiar. Windows though can provide an unfamiliar view when we are travelling.
Books as well can be windows on the world around us, offering us views we are familiar with, or more and more, views which we are unfamiliar with.
Dr. Rudine Sims-Bishop stresses the lack of diversity in children’s books:
“Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real 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 and 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. (1990, p. ix)”
Too often, children fail to see themselves in books. As Felicity LuHill says:
“When it’s good, reading can be both a window and a mirror. In this way, diverse children’s books are windows and mirrors. They allow us to see new things about others and ourselves. The trouble occurs when texts for early readers provide only one view, and it’s a mirror for only a select few.”
Chad Everett makes this point:
“Viewing literature through a lens of windows and mirrors helps us understand that, in addition to texts being stories to be enjoyed, they are powerful tools of social justice.”
We all need diverse books. In this fractured world where it is often “them vs us”, where racism and hate are growing, now more than ever we need windows that show our diverse world and mirrors that reflect our uniqueness.
Throw open the window. Look at the world in wonder and acceptance. We need diversity, we need tolerance.
Check out the following, which look at the need for diversity in books, especially for children:
Why We Need Diverse Books
Ted Talk by Grace Lin