The importance of diverse books

Traci MurphyJune 23, 2022

A student and reading mentor read The Snowy Day.

Windows, mirrors and sliding glass doors

Every reader benefits from diverse literature. As children’s literature researcher Rudine Sims Bishop explains, books serve as windows, mirrors and sliding glass doors.1

“Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created or recreated by the author. When lighting conditions are just right, however, a window can also be a mirror. 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 a larger human experience. Reading, then, becomes a means of self-affirmation, and readers often seek their mirrors in books.” – Rudine Sims Bishop

With 61 percent of America’s children who live in poverty growing up in homes without books, Lead to Read KC provides diverse books for children. Reading diverse books with and not to students supports the students’ engagement with picture book representations of race by affirming that their ideas matter.2

When reading with children, be sure to include open-ended questions. Using open-ended questions and leading with the phrase, “Tell me … ” encourages them to be brave when talking about books.

How you can help

If you’re interested in learning more about reading diverse books with a child in your life, check out these tips offered by Embrace Race.  

“Books are one of the best ways to teach children about the importance of race, equity, diversity, and inclusion. The world we wish to see is easier to show than tell.” Christine Platt

Lead to Read has distributed more than 30,000 books in our community since 2011. You can help us get diverse books into the hands of even more children in our community by making a cash donation. 

If you’re Interested in buying diverse books for a child, check out this list curated by a Lead to Read KC reading specialist and purchase from your favorite local retailer. You can shop via our Amazon Wish List to have books sent directly to Lead to Read KC. 

Does Lead to Read KC only want donations of diverse books? No! We encourage a variety of titles. You can view our complete book list here. Or, donate one of your personal favorites! See our book donation guidelines to learn more.

1 Windows, Mirrors, and Sliding Glass Doors 

2 10 Tips for Reading Picture Books with Children through a Race-Conscious Lens