Diverse Literature: Mirrors & Windows

As I stated in the beginning, I am focused on diverse literature. As noted, it’s an uphill battle. Finding quality is difficult. Finding quality diverse literature is a monumental task.

In my day-to-day conversations, in my daily social media feeds and conversations, in my personal interactions, I have been confronted with confusion, defensiveness, and dismissal.

People are confused. They tell me that children’s books are good–fine as they are, good enough, and mostly feature animals anyway. People are defensive. They have attachments to their own upbringing, their own learning, or just their routine. Re-evaluating their classroom experiences or their teaching practices requires acknowledging a deficit, challenging the status quo, and expanding their worldview. These are emotional endeavors. All of this leads to dismissal. The passion behind the task, the commitment to diversity is relegated to my individual soapbox rather than a collective project for every teacher.

It is easy to be discouraged. It is easy to feel alone. In my research, however, I found my words–my words of rebuttal and my words of personal encouragement: mirrors & windows.

Children are provided a lens in their learning, this lens can either be a mirror or a window. The mirrors are just as important as the windows. Mirrors allow them to be seen and heard, to realize their potential and reaffirm their value. Windows allow them to see others, to realize the potential and reaffirm the value of every person they encounter–whether that is now or in the future, in the classroom or somewhere else.

So, if you need a little encouragement or a reminder on why diverse literature is critical or important; remember, every child needs mirrors and windows, everyone benefits from being seen and seeing others.

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The language of mirrors and windows comes from my original post, the image had a caption that led to researching the concept and finding several articles on it, including one on We are Teachers.

Favorite Books & Gallery

Diverse literature must be meaningful. I received this for my birthday earlier in the year and it is simply amazing.

It’s too long to be read in a single sitting, especially for the younger kids, but it is full of wonderful, RAD women. It’s nonfiction, a genre not as readily utilized in the primary ages, it highlights a history not readily included, and it covers the alphabet–add this to my favorite alphabet books!

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Diverse Literature

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I found this image and the links to it on theconsciouskid on Instagram.

As I stated in my previous post, throughout my entire teaching career I knew that children’s books lacked diversity. I knew that required reading lists, recommended reading lists, and the availability of representative literature in any library was lacking–lacking in terms of culture, language, ethnic, racial, and religious representation.

What I did not grasp, until I saw this image and began a deeper investigation, was how much more work, effort, and searching is required on my part to actually find the few books that are available. What I did not grasp was why I had always had a hard time finding quality, and numerous, options for my classroom.

I have worked in schools that are predominantly Latinx/Hispanic/Chicano and African/African-American/Black, my students deserve stories that mirror their experiences and their voices. Furthermore, even if my students were not predominantly LatinxHispanic/Chicano or African/African-American/Black, every child deserves to see themselves represented, and every child needs to learn how to see and listen to the stories of people unlike them.

This image is a sort of call, for me and you. The work is big, but if we do it together, if we advocate, and share, and make the effort, we can create a more equitable, representative, and inclusive classroom for our students–something each child not only has a right to, but that every child needs now more than ever.