The phrase “windows and mirrors” has become a catch-phrase of the movement for more inclusivity in children’s literature. Borrowed from a scholarly paper written more than twenty-five years ago by Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop, the words remind us why children need to see themselves, and others who are not like them, in 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. –Windows, Mirrors, and Sliding Glass Doors, Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop, 1990, p. ix
And yet, the statistics around who is telling children’s stories are sobering. Even with the ongoing discussion on social media and at bookish conferences and gatherings, the numbers have only slightly budged and are not even close to representing the actual demographics of our country.
Early last month, a few of us at The Winged Pen took a moment to discuss our reading goals for 2018. Several of us had goals specifically around reading more from marginalized voices and in the process of comparing notes, we realized we could share the books we’d found with our readers in hopes that you, too, could read more of these amazing books in the coming year.
We hope that someday, all book lists will represent the beautiful diversity of our world. Until then, we’d like to introduce Windows & Mirrors, a new series of book recommendations from The Winged Pen. Three Fridays per month, we’ll feature a mix of new and upcoming releases, as well as some favorites from the past few years that you might have missed, all written by writers who come from marginalized groups in need of having their voices heard.
Although this is a new series, this topic is not new to the bookish community or to this blog.
While you wait for tomorrow’s first recommendation, check out these past posts from The Winged Pen:
- 2016 National Book Awards for Young People
- Leah Henderson’s One Shadow on the Wall
- Nic Stone’s Dear Martin
- Julie Leung’s Mice of the Roundtable
- Kelly Starling Lyons’ Jada Jones
- Nicola Yoon’s Everything Everything
- Ronald L. Smith’s The Mesmerist
- Native American Literature for Young People
And here are some additional recommendations from other groups who are leading the way on this important topic:
- We Need Diverse Books
- Multicultural Children’s Book Day
- Cooperative Children’s Book Center (University of Wisconsin-Madison) –
- The Brown Bookshelf
- American Indians in Children’s Literature
- Latinxs in Kid Lit
- Disability in Kidlit
- Flowering Minds
- Equity in the Library
- School Library Journal
- Reading While White
To kick things off, we’ve teamed up with Libro.fm to create this list of amazing audiobooks by black authors to celebrate Black History Month! Purchases at Libro.fm support your favorite Indie Bookstore. Please check it out!