Mirrors Matter

Ana PortaBooks, Mission & Outcomes, Volunteers

WITS planned another installment of our WITS Talk series, which provides volunteers with development and new learning opportunities to enrich their experiences working with students during program. The theme of our March WITS Talk was “Mirrors Matter,” facilitated by Dawn Draan and Kelly Gray of Kids Like Us, a source for high-quality multicultural and urban children’s literature. The inclusion of culturally relevant texts for students fosters reading comprehension, self-identity, language productivity, and literacy learning. Watch the video and see below for more information on how to support students through sharing culturally relevant texts, and the importance of windows and mirrors.

Cultural Relevance

Culturally relevant texts reflect the lifestyles and identities of young readers. These may include: race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, language, gender, and religion.

But also:
  • Where children live
  • What their neighborhoods are like
  • Who they spend time with
  • What their families are like
  • Where they go to school
  • What contemporary kids are up to

Culturally relevant texts means: MORE MIRRORS

What Are Windows and Mirrors?

Books that are referred to as “windows” are books that give the reader a look into the life of someone who is different from them. Books that are considered “mirrors” are books that allow the reader to identify with the characters and life situations within the story. These books allow students to recognize themselves in the books they are reading, which is incredibly important for engagement and the development of identity.

Why Is This Important?

Culturally relevant literature, as seen in mirror texts, matters for interest and engagement, motivating students to read by giving them a point of recognition and familiarity, and helping them make connections to their own lives. Representation of children’s identities within their classroom libraries can increase family engagement with reading, gives students an opportunity to nourish their academic identities, reduces apprehension with reading, and activates prior knowledge to support accuracy, fluency, and comprehension.

Building Momentum

You can learn more about Kids Like Us and browse their book lists on their website. The We Need Diverse Books website has links to many culturally relevant book resources, and every WITS blog post about books features diverse titles. If you’re looking for a book recommendation for a child (or yourself!) check out these resources. Each of these resources supports the critical role that culturally relevant children’s literature can play in supporting language development and literacy learning.