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Books as Mirrors and Windows (As Defined by Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop)

Have you ever heard about books being thought about as a window or a mirror?

  Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop has some insightful knowledge to share about that concept.
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My teaching partner, Naomi O’Brien and I love teaching our kindergarten and first-grade students about this concept! Mirrors are books that contain storylines, characters, and experiences you can see yourself in. You can make personal connections to these books. You feel seen and heard after reading a book that is a mirror. A book that is a window helps you see into the life or experience of someone else. You may not be able to relate, but you can learn and grow from that storyline or the book’s characters. When we present books to our students as windows and mirrors, it helps us reflect on the books we read in a meaningful way. It also helps us pick the books we expose our students to. We like to have a good balance of windows and mirrors. Our goal is to always build perspective through the picture books we choose, so we are very picky about what we place in front of our students, and WHY we placed it in front of them.

We intentionally choose texts that are diverse and complex. We use these texts to teach all of the CCSS to our students over the course of a week. We also choose a perspective from the book and guide them towards this new knowledge by building background knowledge, learning vocabulary, using thinking maps, and asking higher-order standards-based questions. At the end of each lesson, we seek to introduce a meaningful and relevant task for our students so they can put all of their learning together and apply what they have learned.

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We help our students build a portfolio of perspectives by having them reflect on a lesson the book taught them. They also explain why the book was a window or a mirror for them. Then they explain the perspective learned. Imagine what you could build over the course of the year with the titles you choose to put in front of your students!

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