At KidLitCon 2013, one of the topics that come up frequently was the audience for a book. That topic presented itself during panels and also came up as we just sat around and talked about books (and yes, if you wondered, that IS exactly what we did!).
Anyone who has ever been a gatekeeper (another word bandied about, meaning those who get the books into the right kids’ hands) is familiar with the concept that when a child — or anyone for that matter — reads, they want to see themselves (mirrors), but also learn about those who are different (windows).
I’m trying to tailor my reviews a bit more to highlight these opportunities for people to see themselves and others, and it’s a concept that I’ve been pondering.
When you read, are you drawn more to mirrors or windows?
Mine is a mix, I think. In my review of Genie Wishes (or rather, in the comments), I revealed that I identify with stories of these young girls who don’t want to rush to grow up too fast, because I was one of those girls myself. That’s a mirror.
One of my favorite genres of adult literature is memoir, precisely because it is often a window into lives quite different from mine. I am also drawn to fiction that features 1st generation Americans, specifically South Asian and middle eastern for whatever reason. I have known people for whom that story is a mirror, and I like adding that layer of understanding, and those authors are readily available right now.
I enjoy escapist fantasy as well, which isn’t really a window or a mirror (maybe that’s a door!), but allows me to enjoy
Do you, as a gatekeeper, make an effort to give children books that represent windows and mirrors (and doors?)
Do you think that’s important? I know that I’ve appreciated the ability of books to introduce me to characters who live a different reality from mine, as well as helped me navigate my own real life by reading about others like me who are doing just that. I’d like for children to enjoy books in the same way, both now and for a lifetime.
I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment and tell me about your own practices and the ones you use when trying to match books to the kids in your life.