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Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors

Books are an invitation for children to see themselves in imaginative stories, and an opportunity for them to look into the lives of others who are different from them. At Book Harvest, we are devoted to ensuring that every child has access to books that reflect their own lived experiences and that provide an authentic portrayal of children whose backgrounds, abilities, and circumstances may be unfamiliar. In this way, children can develop an appreciation for the universe of human experience from their earliest years.

We call this approach "Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors."

The Opportunity

Book Harvest promotes and shares books that portray all children, honoring diverse backgrounds, languages, abilities, and perspectives, and including stories by and about people of color. We believe that books should serve as mirrors and windows for all children: in order to become avid readers and to reap the full benefits of lifelong literacy, children have to see both themselves and worlds beyond their own in the stories they read.

We are inspired by the work of Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop whose seminal essay, “Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors” asserts:

“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…When there are enough books available that act as both mirrors and windows for all our children, they will see that we can celebrate both our differences and our similarities, because together they are what makes us all human.”

Book Harvest works every day to provide books to children and families that are “Mirror, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors” into the lives of all children everywhere.

 

You can view a PDF of some of our favorite books here.

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Purchase culturally inclusive books

And have them shipped directly to our office!

When there are enough books available that act as both mirrors and windows for all our children, they will see that we can celebrate both our differences and our similarities, because together they are what makes us all human.

Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop

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The Challenge

The unfortunate reality is that there is limited availability of diverse and inclusive children’s books. According to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center in the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the inequity in children’s book publishing is significant.

 

In 2021, 3,183 children’s books were published in the United States. Of those 3,183:

  • 436 were about Blacks/African Americans

  • 337 were about Asians

  • 234 were about Latinos/Latinas

  • 62 were about Indigenous people

  • 21 were about those of Arab descent

  • 6 were about Pacific Islanders

 

Of those 3,183:

  • 307 were written by Black/African American authors

  • 463 were by Asian authors

  • 311 were written by Latino/Latina authors

  • 47 were written by Indigenous authors

  • 21 were written by authors of Arab descent

  • 8 were written by Pacific Islander authors

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As civil rights activist Marian Wright Edelman observes, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” We clearly have a long way to go before we can say with certainty that all children can see themselves in the books and authors they read – but Book Harvest is determined to make progress along this road.

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What We're Doing

Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors in Action

At Book Harvest, we are committed to providing high-quality diverse and inclusive books to children and families.

Diverse Books for All Coalition

Book Harvest is an inaugural member of the Diverse Books for All Coalition, a coalition of organizations from across the US led by the nonprofit social enterprise First Book. The Coalition was created to address the lack of access to diverse and affordable children’s books.

Book Drive Materials

We provide materials that explain Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors and encourage book drive captains to share this perspective with their participants. While we welcome all donations of new and gently used children’s books, we are always especially grateful for diverse and inclusive titles!

Dream Big on MLK Day

At our cornerstone event, celebrated on MLK Day each year, we celebrate our big dream of books and literacy for all children as we honor the legacy of Dr. King.

Meeting Families Where They Are

Laundromats, barbershops, health clinics — in all these everyday places where families spend time, we stock bookshelves filled with free books in which children recognize themselves, through which they become eager readers on the laps of their parents while the laundry spins or in the barber’s chair as the clippers buzz.

Our Featured Five Children's Books

Punky Aloha

by Shar Tuiasoa

Eyes that Weave the World's Wonders

by Joanna Ho & Liz Kleinrock

Illustrated by Dung Ho

A Child's Introduction to Asian American and Pacific Islander History: The Heroes, the Stories, and the Cultures that Helped to Build America

by Naomi Hirahara

Illustrated by Sarah Demonteverde

Awe-Samosas!

by Marzieh Abbas

Illustrated by Bhagya Madanasinghe

Boys Don't Fry

by Kimberly Lee

Illustrated by Charlene Chua

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