Windows and Mirrors

When I was in graduate school pursuing my Masters in Teaching, there was one concept in particular that really stuck with me. That concept was “Windows and Mirrors.” The idea is that books can be windows and/or mirrors. When a book is a “window,” that means it is a window into another world, life, or experience. It allows us to see and experience something we wouldn’t otherwise in our everyday lives. When a book is a “mirror,” that means that it reflects who we are and/or our lived experiences. It mirrors our own experiences and identities, which is a really powerful thing.

I love discussing this concept with my students in the classroom, and I always ask them this question:

“Is it more important to read books that are windows or mirrors? Or is it important to read both?”

I love posing this question to my students because they always have really interesting insights. In the end, the conclusion they usually come to is that it’s important to read both. It’s important to read books that are “windows” so that we can understand others better and become more empathetic and knowledgeable people. However, it’s also incredibly important to see ourselves in books that are “mirrors.” To feel valued and accepted and to see that we are not alone.

I absolutely love this TED Talk by children’s book author and illustrator Grace Lin. She does a wonderful job of describing this concept and how important it is, and the way she presents her insights is also totally accessible to kids (I love showing this video in my classroom). Please enjoy and leave a comment letting me know what you think!

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