Photo Courtesy of the Hawai’i Public Library System

“When there are enough books available that can act as both mirrors and windows for all our children, they will see that we can celebrate both our differences and our similarities because together they are what make us all human.” 

-Rudine Sims Bishop, Professor Emerita, Ohio State University, Columbus

In her work as a scholar and professor of multicultural literature, Rudine Sims Bishop created the foundational metaphor of books as “Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors”, which likens books to windows offering views of worlds – real or imagined; sliding doors to walk through and become part of whatever world created or recreated by the author, and mirrors that reflect our lives and experiences as part of the larger human experience.

Reading books (especially picture books!) offers caregivers and educators the perfect opportunity to talk about difficult, complex, and important topics.  The act of reading a story creates windows through which children and adults can see the world through different eyes, mirrors in which children can see themselves, and perhaps even sliding glass doors through which to walk a mile in another’s shoes. 

You can spark meaningful family conversations by reading books together that nurture self-love, foster empathy, and empower children to make their voices heard!  The Conscious Child: Family Book Discussion Kits (modeled after the Oxford Lane Library project of the same name) aim to: 1) To celebrate diverse voices; and 2) help facilitate family discussions about racial equity, identity, social justice, and social-emotional learning (SEL).

Included in each kit are discussion questions for each book and a list of further recommended reading.  Each kit focuses on timely subjects including social justice, identity & belonging, joy & self-love, immigration & refugees, solidarity & activism, and social-emotional learning.  Kits are suggested for ages 4-7 and 8-11; however, they are really for people of all ages! —Jessica Gleason, Bookmobile Librarian

Funded by grants from the Network of the National Library of Medicine and the Maui Friends of the Library, the kits are currently available at Wailuku Public Library (808-243-5766) and Lahaina Public Library (808-662-3950). Call either library for more information.

While the kits are only available on Maui at this time, there are downloadable resources and reading lists at: