All children deserve the opportunity to see themselves reflected in books, as well as learn about those who are different from them. We believe books open our minds, our hearts, and our worlds. Jane Addams Children’s Book Award commended titles are books in which young people feel seen, celebrated, valued, and empowered to question, discuss, and act. – With gratitude for the work of Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop
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December 3, 2021
Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors
Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop uses “Mirrors, Windows and Sliding Glass Doors” as an analogy to discuss the importance of diversity in books and the authors who write them.
Listen to a Youtube interview with Dr. Rudine Sims Bishops and click here for her 1990 ‘Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors’ essay.
Jane Addams Peace books are mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors for young people to see themselves, as well as other people and worlds that are sometimes very different than their own and allow them to enter into others’ lives and worlds, inviting conversations that can lead to compassion, empathy, and action for peace and justice.
When young people see themselves and people of all racial, identities, gender identities, religions, abilities, classes, and cultures, they can imagine, start conversations about and act in ways in which all are treated equitably.
In light of ongoing and recent targeting, challenging, and banning of books that
- help young people see, understand, and celebrate themselves
- help young people see, understand, and celebrate others
- help them understand history so that they can make sense of the present and work for a more just future
We celebrate and spotlight some mirrors, windows and doors books and resources here:
Find “King and the Dragonflies” by Kacen Callender on our website.
Books are mirrors that allow young people to be seen.
Their experience is reflected back to them to help them better understand themselves and the human experience and know they’re not alone. It’s also an opportunity for them to see themselves in different situations and see themselves as heroes.
Equally important is that young people are seen by others.
About two thirds of the books a Texas lawmaker wants to ban explore LGBT storylines or feature LGBT characters (62.4%).
When books with LGBTQIA+ themes and characters disappear from classrooms and libraries, young queer people don’t see themselves and others don’t see them either. The absence of LBGTQ books is not only unjust but the effects are also dangerous.
Key findings from The Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Project THRIVE reveal that
31% of LGBTQ youth, 43% of transgender youth and 40% of questioning youth have been bullied at school, compared to 16% of their non-LGBTQ peers.
17% of LGBTQ youth, 29% of transgender youth and 30% of questioning youth have been threatened or injured with a weapon at school, compared to 6% of non-LGBTQ youth.
24% of LGBTQ youth, 35% of transgender youth and 41% of questioning youth have skipped school because they felt unsafe at school or on their way to school, compared to 8% of non-LGBTQ youth.
(2019 data, reported in 2020. Find the full report at Welcoming Schools)
Read Danika Ellis’s analysis here.
Find “Rick” by Alex Gino on our website.
Books are windows offering views of other real or imagined worlds.
It’s important for young people and all people to be able to broaden their view of their nearby community as well as farther away worlds. It’s also important to consider who’s offering the view through the window and through which windows we are offered opportunities to look. Whose worlds and voices are offered up, celebrated and promoted by publishing companies and the media?
Debbie Reese, a Nambé Pueblo scholar and educator and founder of American Indians in Children’s Literature (AICL), adds curtains to Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop’s metaphor, “because every people chooses what to, and what not to share. Outsiders looking in windows can make a mess when they write what they see, without understanding what they see.”
Listen to Debbie Reese talk about mirrors, windows, doors and curtains here.
Debbie Reese uses “fun house Mirrors” to describe books that distort the truth or that distort the reflection of the person looking in the mirror, making them grotesque or garish. “Books that are demeaning, say they are “honoring” Native people, show them as mascots, products to be sold or smiling beside smiling Pilgrims mislead readers and aren’t a mirror for white children, because those stories hide a lot of truths.”
Books help people feel seen, celebrated, and understood.
The Jane Addams Peace Association is committed to honoring, celebrating, lifting up, and promoting a wide range of voices, especially those that have been marginalized and stomped upon.
Find Julián is a Mermaid by Jessica Love on our website.
Allow young people to understand history in ways that help them make sense of the present.
Some school districts in Texas, Virginia, and elsewhere distort windows into the past by limiting, challenging or banning books. In “The Daily Podcast” Michael Barbaro sums this up explaining, “Because critical race theory, whether it’s being accurately portrayed here or not, they seem to be saying it’s asking us to do something. And that’s something is to give up certain visions of the United States and of themselves that they have been taught for a really long time, right? The United States as equal and fair and meritocratic. And they seem to be saying that is hard, and we don’t want to do it.” Listen to the whole episode of “The Daily” here.
The impact of a vague unnecessary Texas bill has left many teachers & administrators afraid to teach history of the Holocaust or Civil War without teaching “both sides”
Learning about 11 million people murdered and learning about and from people who risked their lives to save others is provides a sliding glass door into history. Learning about Chiune Sugihara in “Passage to Freedom” by Ken Mochizuki and Dom Lee helps young people learn personal bravery and courage.
And a reminder about holidays from KidlitBrain
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Social justice literature and illustration foster empathy & respect and invite change-making!
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