Search Results For windows and mirrors

  Windows and mirrors can change your life. Yes, mirrors can show you the sDSC_0950pinach stuck in your teeth. And the breeze wafting through your window can cool a stuffy room. But I mean something more profound. Something that can knock down limiting walls and expand your horizons. What in the global world am I talking about?

The conceptual framework conceived by Emily Styles as part of the national SEED project. (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity)  Mirrors are stories that reflect your culture/reality and help you understand yourself.

Windows are books, movies, art, etc thaDSC_0990t offer you a view into someone else’s experience. We all need both in our lives. 

When you just have mirrors, your world view lacks the beauty of a wide range of perspectives. When you just have windows you feel like you don’t belong. But when you see life through this lens, and make room for both windows and mirrors, a rich, diverse, global world reveals that there are multiple ways of being.

To learn how to use this inclusive concept to educate children to be empathic citizens check out this post


Transforming Your Space

after the Class Room Audit

So you’ve read your classroom for the silent messages that your room is sending. ( see here for how to do so)    You’ve determined how welcoming a place it is for multiple identities. Now what?

Here’s the fun part. Think about one thing you can add to your space that will make it a more inclusive environment?

Does that seem overwhelming?

Don’t worry, I’ve tried to make it easier for you.

I’ve  compiled  a sampling of diverse and inclusive resources to provide your students or your own children with mirrors that reflect and validate their own identities and windows that allow a view and an appreciation for identities different than their own. I have tried to provide a variety of materials in various disciplines that would be appropriate for a preschooler to a middle schooler. Click on the picture for my pinterst board of resources and enjoy celebrating all identities.

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After window shopping and gathering inspiration and ideas, fill out your wish list here.



The air is abuzz with “first day of school ” stories.

Sometimes the stories come riddled with tears and fears. (And this can be as true for the new teachers as for new students). Sometimes stories tumble over each other in a long stream of “and then, and then, and…..” Sometimes moments are retold that make your heart melt.

No matter the emotion, or the circumstance, stories abound for a reason.

My virtual mentor, Angela Maiers, educator author and speaker, a guru who I want to be like when I grow up.

Stories entertain us. Stories connect us. Stories help us make sense of experiences. So as the teachers, parents and other adults, who are shaping future generations, we should encourage all story telling.

What better way to empower a child and to confirm that he or she matters than to listen to what he or she has to say. To acknowledge that each one of us has something to offer the world and that every person has skills, talents, and visions worth celebrating. (For a fabulous blog about How people know they matter read this post from Angela Maiers.)

Listening to the stories is crucial but it is equally important to think about what stories you are sharing. When sharing your own personal stories – and what better gift can you offer the young  but stories of your own perspective –  help the child understand that it is but one story from one point of view.  Even in the same class at school, or in the same family, everyone will have a different account of the same moment.

Understanding that multiple perspectives exist, can be a world-rocking concept! To realize that you might perceive a situation entirely differently from someone else is one way to walk in other people’s shoes.

Stories are a great way to get to temporarily try on other people’s shoes. Especially when combined with an explicit discussion of windows and mirrors. ( I will talk more about how to use windows and mirrors and first day of school books next post). It is our job to make sure we are providing as many multiple perspectives and windows and mirrors in the stories we tell, the stories we buy, and the stories that line our shelves. It’s the only way we can give everyone a fair shot at understanding and celebrating our rich diverse world.

Feel free to share your first day of school stories. I would love to hear other perspectives on this exciting age-old ritual.

A sure way to teach the value of diverse perspectives is with windows and mirrors and by following these steps. (for more on windows and mirrors check out this post).DSC_0980

1)     Provide Mirrors

Give children books, stories, movies, art work, music, and other expressions of culture that reflect their experience. For example if the child is adopted, provide plenty of stories about adoption.

2)     Collect Windows

What stDSC_0969ories offer you a different cultural, racial, ethnic or religious background? Gather those titles and share them. See how many you can find. Make sure you have more windows than mirrors . If you are Irish Catholic, read fairy tales from China, India. Then read some Jewish and Arabic folktales.

3)     Find the gaps

Study your stories. Do you gravitate to certain perspectives? What viewpoints are missing? Do they focus on a one particular family life style? Are the heroes of your books always white? How might your broaden your understanding?

4)     Seek new vistas

You have your individual take on the world. It’s shaped by family, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity,  race, age, ability, culture, and class. Look for stories out of your comfort zone for each one of these cultural identifiers.

5)     Explicitly teach them

Children as young as kindergartners can be taught to see how things are similar and different from their own experience. Use actual images of windows and mirrors to introduce this concept. Model your own thinking and give lots of examples.

6)     Identify the windows and mirrors

Read a story or study a picture with your child. Share all your mirrors and windows. Encourage children to agree, add or disagree from your observations. For example you might read Grace Lin’s fabulous Red Thread: An Adoption Fairytale.(Stay tuned for an in- depth post). You might say the window for you is that this family came into being through adoption if yours did not. And the mirror you identify could be that all families share love in common.

7)     Connect windows to mirrors

Your mirror in the above example might be that your family also came into being through adoption. And the window could be your family structure has two Dads while the story has a mother and father. You could connect the mirror and window by saying that in both the story and your experience two loving adults raise and care for one child.

8)     Spot your blinders

If you don’t check for windows and mirrors, it is easy to  miss a narrow outlook.  Do you gravitate to stories that reflect your own cultural indicators? Or do you seek out a range of ethnic stories but never read stories about varied abilities? What windows are missing?  Study identity indicators. Which do you never think about? Find those stories.

9)     Ask for help

Get suggestions from teachers, librarians, parents  or by contacting me for books that can round out your world view. Reach out and ask a variety of people to share their stories with you. Always do this with the mindset of appreciative inquiry and respectfully understand it’s just one story not everyone’s story.  Return the favor. Sharing stories is our connecting glue.

10) Do it again

Wherever you go, whatever you do, ask yourself, is this a window or a mirror?  Do I have more mirrors at my workplace? More windows? How about for my colleagues? What can these observations teach me? What stories are missing?  Why? No matter what, enjoy the lifelong journey – One story at a time!

So you’ve identified the gaps on your shelves. (If you haven’t, click here to find out how.) You know you need certain windows and mirrors. You’ve determined that you should add some missing voices. And you don’t have as many multiple perspectives on a topic as you’d like. Now what?

Don’t panic! I’ve done some of the work for you and am sharing it with you now. I’ve compiled an ever- growing list of resources that I personally use to build an inclusive and anti-bias library. However, the list is only as good as my own research and it’s also hindered my own blinders or sweet spots.

For example, even though I’ve consciously been building diverse book collections for a long time, it was only a few years ago that it occurred to me to analyze the bookshelves for class bias. Focusing on other sweet spots of collection development impacted the children I teach. They did not have access to windows and mirrors that encompass the range of economic diversity. The books on my shelves mainly contained the default in most books: the middle class. While it’s tough to find books that portray a variety of socio-economic circumstances in positive light, it is our job to seek them out.

My list of resources and my own analysis of my collection is also only as strong as my blind spots. Recently, I asked attendees at a MSLA workshop about creating cross cultural collections. They identified some gaps, mirrors and windows, and missing voices that I had never even considered.

Why? First, because we all have our own biases whether we want to admit them or not. Secondly, the librarians, teachers and administrators who were present at the conference, serve different communities than I do. So of course, they quite rightly have different identities on their radar.

What I love about this work is when we share our concerns; we can pool our knowledge and broaden each other’s horizon.

Someone in the workshop said she was looking for Cape Verdean resources. Sadly, you aren’t going to find these books when you walk into a Barnes and Nobles. So I started to dig. I had never researched books for this identity before. I was thrilled when I found out that Janet Costa Bates, a woman whom I often see at New England SCBWI conferences, had published a book about her grandmother’s experience of emigrating from Cape Verde.

I was delighted to discover this fact for a number of reasons.

  1. Another person helped me think outside my own boundaries and inspired me to seek out resources for which I might never have looked.
  2. I discovered that it is hard to find windows and mirrors through traditional sources; but with some work they are out there. (Here’s Mike Monteiro’s list which is also included in the resources below.)
  3. There are some (though too few mirrors) available for the Cape Verdean community that you might serve.
  4. This is a perfect example of why we need to share our personal stories. I’ve casually chatted with Janet over the years. But it wasn’t until writing this post that I understood what mirrors she was offering a community of Massachusetts residents. If it wasn’t for the participant in my workshop who caused me to think in a new direction and if it wasn’t for Janet quietly writing her story, my students may never had a chance to experience a life so different and similar to their own. Because of course, I am now adding the Lee & Low new voices honor award winner, Seaside Dream to my own library collection!

So please, enjoy the resources I’ve compiled thus far. (If you share them with others just cite my work). But more importantly, share with me your resources. Tell me what you looking for so together we can grow a comprehensive list for every identity and every single story that adds to the multiplicity of that identity.

And don’t forget to check back here periodically as I am continually updating the below Symbaloo resources for developing diverse bookshelves! (click on the image for the topic links)

Anti Bias Articles


If you are a in a school, don’t miss out on the link to access your school’s demographic data and a multicultural appendix B list for the common core.

Race & Ethnicity Resources

The icon for each ethnicity links to multiple resources.

The icon for each ethnicity links to multiple resources.

LGBTQ Resources

There are other resources in the gender and family structure sections.

There are other resources in the gender and family structure sections.


Some of these resources deal with questioning  gender identity while others deal with more traditional gender stereotypes and related issues.

Some of these resources deal with questioning gender identity while others deal with more traditional gender stereotypes and related issues.

Family Structure

Many more resources on the way.

Many more resources on the way.


Only a few religions are represented so far. More are coming. Click on the religion's icon for more resources.

Only a few religions are represented so far. More are coming.
Click on the religion’s icon for more resources.


There are multiple identities within the community of the differently abled. Here is the beginning of a list to provide windows and mirrors for this group of individuals.

There are multiple identities within the community of the differently abled. Here is the beginning of a list to provide windows and mirrors for this group of individuals.


English Language Learners & Bilingual Resources

Sites to purchase materials in various languages and articles about bilingual topics.

Sites to purchase materials in various languages and articles about bilingual topics.



Examining for class is tough. Most books have a middle class default. It's important to see out a spectrum of economic realities.

Examining for class is tough. Most books have a middle class default. It’s important to see out a spectrum of economic realities.

 Diversity Blogs

Some blogs I follow to stay current on diverse resources to build an anti bias bookshelves.

Some blogs I follow to stay current on diverse resources to build an anti bias bookshelves.

General Resources

These sites could help you build your collection in various areas of identity

These sites could help you build your collection in various areas of identity



What blind spots does your bookshelf reveal? How do you analyze book collections for often unconscious bias? (Read here for an overview of all the steps to building an inclusive bookshelf.)

The only way is systematically and deeply.

It is tough to see what is invisible. But as gatekeepers of children’s books and subsequently the shapers of how a child understands the world, we must try.

Three lenses help bring biases into focus. Windows & mirrors. Missing voices. And multiple perspectives.

1. Examine the windows and mirrors.

• Check for mirror books, books that reflect your audience’s experiences.
• Look for windows, books that open up your audiences understanding of other experiences.
• Do you have more windows than mirrors?
• More mirrors than windows?
• Every child needs a variety of mirrors that reflect the complexity of his or her identity. This way his or her sense of belonging and value are validated.
• All children should have their world view expanded beyond their own borders. Reading about others encourages understanding, empathy and celebration of all

2. Consider the missing voices.
• Whose stories are being told?
• Look at your non-fiction. Do you have just the victors’ story?
• Do your inventors, scientists, mathematicians, leaders, etc. represent a variety of races and include both male and female?
• Do you have materials that reflect voices rarely heard? Fantasies that have a differently abled heroine? A novel that shows an African American as neither victim, perpetrator nor a historical figure?

3. Analyze for multiple perspectives.
• If you have a title that depicts Christopher Columbus as an explorer hero do you have a title that considers the indigenous perspective?
• Do your Thanksgiving titles just focus on food, families, friends and celebration? Or do you include materials that share the Wampanoag’s point of view?
• Do these stories reflect the spectrum of experiences for that identity? For example does the collection have Puerto Rican, Dominican, and a variety of other Latino/ Hispanic voices? Or are all the titles examples of a Mexican experience?
• Do the voices paint just one way of life within a particular community or is there diversity of looks, family, work and so forth within that group?

As you try and balance your bookshelf with windows and mirrors, multiple perspectives and missing voices, you may not be able to fill the gaps on your own.
Don’t worry; I will soon post an extensive but not exhaustive list of resources to help you find these books.
Also feel free to leave a comment below sharing what titles you might need and I will see if I or other readers might have suggestions.

Call me naive. But I just don’t understand why people are so threatened by a book that can expand a child’s understanding of the world. I am talking about the hullabaloo surrounding the magnificent picture book, Golden Domes, Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors.  domesWhile I am late to the controversy, I want to add my two cents to the conversation. Mainly because the whole brouhaha is a perfect example of why we MUST give children all sorts of windows and mirrors. If we do not share stories from a range of multiple perspectives, then fear will flourish and people will wage war rather than create connections.

If, like me, you are just discovering that there was both a twitter battle and a parent who returned the book in disgust, you might be imagining a very toxic book. However, Hena Khan’s powerfully simple, rhyming text merely shares with the reader traditions and colors of Islam. The artwork by Mehrdokht Amini bathes the reader in the beauty of this way of being in the world.

Yet certain “gatekeepers” feel like it is their obligation to protect children.

But what could be possibly threatening about a culturally specific example of the universal concept of helping those in need?giveneed

I can only imagine the fear that makes someone react to a recommendation or purchase of the book with the stance that “Islam is dangerous” (part of the twitter battle with author/ former educator Kate Messner) or  “I don’t want this culture around my children,…Learn to read and write before we start teaching (about) the fanaticals.” (Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal – Father upset after child finds Muslim book at school fair.)

While there are individuals in any group who may have extreme views or behaviors if we as the adult “gatekeepers” don’t expose children to multiple stories about multiple ways of being, we are accomplices in perpetuating intolerance and terror.

After expanding their cross cultural knowledge base, my students were almost ready to face the paparazzi. (See this post for how they got there)

In other words, they were nearly ready to play the “Get to know a Hispanic Hero/Heroine bingo game” that I created for them. But first they needed to do a little more work to be an expert.

  • They re-read their mini-biographies and reviewed why their person was famous. They had already highlighted keywords in the paragraph to determine that as the main idea of the paragraph. ( In case you forgot, I found their age appropriate biographies at Scholastic’s site for Discovery History Makers.)
  • They then identified at least one fact about their Hispanic Hero/Heroine that they thought their classmates should know. I had already told them they were going to be “interviewed” by the paparazzi (their classmates).
  • Students then received “Get to know a Hispanic Hero/Heroine bingo game”. Click here for a downloadable version.


  • Once they had found a teacher, or astronaut, etc., they asked the student the name of the Hispanic Hero/heroine that he or she was portraying and recorded it in the appropriate square.
  • They then interviewed the Hispanic Hero/Heroine and recorded the “interview”.
  • The goal was to get a bingo and be able to boast about how much they knew about as many Hispanic Heroes/Heroines as possible.

This week, students will take their paparazzi questions and turn them into “WHO WAS/IS clues” to scatter around the school. Each clue will say ask a third grader for the answer.

This way each child can take pride in the beginnings of their journey as they expand their cross-cultural knowledge and understanding of Hispanic Heroes/Heroines.

Obviously, this unit on learning about Latinos/as can be adapted to any group of individuals. I particularly like thinking about windows and mirrors and groups that aren’t often addressed in the mainstream curriculum. So feel free to adapt this idea for differently abled people, or Cambodian contributors, or whatever under-represented group that you feel passionate to share with the world.

Let me know how it goes.

To help students broaden their cross-cultural knowledge base, I created a Hispanic Hero/Heroine game. I used it with a third grade library class but feel free to adapt it for different ages or for family use.

The unit had a number of objectives. Some were just to review. Some involved practice or mastery of common-core or information-literacy skills. And, of course, exposure to windows and mirrors content.

I wanted students to:

  • Understand a biography is a true account about a person’s life.
  • Read for the main idea
  • Identify keywords in the text
  • Use keywords to extrapolate the main idea
  • Learn how to turn facts into questions
  • Explore interviewing skills
  • Gain information about a particular person in a particular cultural experience.

Here’s an overview of the second lesson in the unit. ( See the first lesson in this post – list all people you know personally or otherwise who are of Hispanic descent).

  1. I gave each student their own mini biography  (a paragraph long) that I printed from Scholastic’s site for Discovery History Makers.
  2. I removed the name, and the job description for each person and created a fill in the blank. My name is…. I am a famous…. or I am famous for being a……. To download my template click here.
  3. Students read the biography and identified the person about whom they were reading.
  4. Students then highlighted keywords that were repeated over and over or had variations mentioned in the text.
  5. The looked at the keywords and determined the main idea or why this person was famous.

Roberto Clemente: the first Puerto Rican to be voted Most Valuable Player in baseball

For example if a student read about Roberto Clemente, he or she may have underlined Major League Baseball, great fielder, great hitter, Most Valuable Player, Baseball Hall of Fame. Then he or she would have said Roberto Clemente is a famous baseball player.

The mini biographies ranged in complexity so I gave the more abstract professions to those who were ready for the challenge and thus allowed for success for a range of students.

Stay tuned for how kids prepared themselves to face the questions the classmate paparazzi prepared for each other.

It’s embarrassing how little I know about Hispanic contributions. You can see below in my own answers to the question I posed earlier this week. (Click for the original post)

I attribute my ignorance to several things.

1)     I didn’t have a lot of Hispanic history or Latino literature taught to me in school.  Let me correct myself. I don’t remember any!

2)     I live in a part of the country where the Hispanic culture and heritage is not prevalent.

3)     I get news from sources that inherently can’t cover every story. So what one organization choses to include or not, shapes my understanding of current events.

4)     I view the world through a certain lens. My lens has been formed by my upbringing, my heritage, my education, my location, my circumstances, etc. So I filter information through that perspective.

All of these contributing factors often remain unconscious. Unless, I make an effort to find out what viewpoints I am missing, or who’s story I haven’t heard, I will continue to have a narrow and less rich connection with all those with whom I share this planet. And why would I want of that?

So I continue to find as many windows and mirrors as I can. I continue to seek out multiple stories and multiple perspectives. That helps me understand what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes while deepening my understanding of the world.

Maybe, one day I can also fill in such a list for all the wonderful different human experiences that exist.

Until then, here are my answers and my gaps. Follow the links to learn more about the individuals I named, or wait until next time when I’ll share who they are and what resources you can use with children.

Congress Women

Writer: Julia Alvarez

Picture Book Illustrator: David Díaz


Nobel Prize Winner

Basketball Player

Union Leader: Cesar Chavez





Singer/Musician: Jennifer Lopez

Community Organizer

United States Surgeon


Artist: Frieda Kahlo

Baseball Player: Roberto Clemente