Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors

The Opportunity

Books can be mirrors reflecting who we are  — and they can be windows into a wider reality beyond our own lived experience.

This is what we call “Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors” – Book Harvest’s focus on promoting and sharing books that portray all children, honoring diverse backgrounds, languages, abilities, and perspectives, and including stories by and about people of color. We believe that books should serve as mirrors and windows for all children: in order to become avid readers and to reap the full benefits of lifelong literacy, children have to see both themselves and worlds beyond their own in the stories they read.

Want to purchase diverse and inclusive books and have them shipped directly to our office?


We are inspired by the work of Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop whose seminal essay, “Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors” asserts:

“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 the larger human experience. Reading, then, becomes a means of self-affirmation, and readers often seek their mirrors in books…When there are enough books available that 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 makes us all human.”[1]

Book Harvest works every day to provide books to children and families that are “Mirror, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors” into the lives of all children everywhere.

The Challenge

The unfortunate reality is that there is limited availability of diverse and inclusive children’s books.  These statistics[2] underscore the stark challenge we face:

  • Of all the children’s books published in 2018, most main characters were white (50%), followed by animals (27%). Only 10% were African/African American; not even 5% were Latinx.
  • Black, Latinx, and Native authors combined wrote just 7% of new children’s books published.
  • Inclusive children’s literature that features characters who are either physically and/or intellectually diverse—characters who have been labeled as disabled—remain few and far between. Additionally, those texts that do exist often follow tropes of pity or dehumanization. These texts have also been heavily critiqued for their over-representation of white male characters who access prosthetics.[3]

As civil rights activist Marian Wright Edelman observes, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” We clearly have a long way to go before we can say with certainty that all children can see themselves in the books and authors they read – but Book Harvest is determined to make progress along this road.

What We're Doing:
Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors in Action

At Book Harvest, we are committed to providing high-quality diverse and inclusive books to children and families.

Here is Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors in action:

  • Book Drives: We provide materials that explain Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors and encourage book drive captains to share this perspective with their participants. While we welcome all donations of new and gently used children’s books, we are always especially grateful for diverse and inclusive titles!
  • Dream Big: At our cornerstone event, celebrated on MLK Day each year, we celebrate our big dream of books and literacy for all children as we honor the legacy of Dr. King.
  • Informal learning spaces: Laundromats, barbershops, health clinics — in all these everyday places where families spend time, we stock bookshelves filled with free books in which children recognize themselves, through which they become eager readers on the laps of their parents while the laundry spins or in the barber’s chair as the clippers buzz.

[1] https://scenicregional.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Mirrors-Windows-and-Sliding-Glass-Doors.pdf.

[2] “Data on books by and about people of color and from First/Native Nations published for children and teens compiled by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison.”

[3] https://blog.leeandlow.com/2019/05/28/how-to-critically-select-childrens-books-with-representations-of-disability-experiences/

You can download a pdf of this information here.

You can purchase diverse and inclusive books to donate from The Regulator Bookshop or Amazon here and have them shipped directly to our office.


Here is our Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors List (download a pdf here):

First 100 Words Bilingual, by Roger Priddy
Full, Full, Full of Love, by Trish Cooke, illust. by Paul Howard
Global Babies, by The Global Fund for Children
Green Is a Chile Pepper: A Book of Colors, by Roseanne Greenfield Thong, illustrated by John Parra
Happy Baby Colors Bilingual, by Roger Priddy
Jazz Baby, by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Laura Freeman
Joshua by the Sea, by Angela Johnson
Maria Had A Little Llama / María Tenía Una Llamita, by Angela Dominguez
Please, Baby, Please, by Spike Lee & Tonya Lewis Lee, illustrated by Kadir Nelson
The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats
Ten, Nine, Eight, by Molly Bang
Whoever You Are, by Mem Fox, illustrated by Leslie Staub
Whose Toes are Those?, by Jabari Asim, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Early Elementary
All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom, by Angela Johnson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis
Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut, by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James
Don’t Throw It to Mo! by David A. Adler, illustrated by Sam Ricks
Don’t Touch My Hair, by Sharee Miller
Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music, by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael López
Fish in a Tree, by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel, by Ofusu Yeboah  and Laurie Ann Thompson
Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from The Underground Railroad, by Ellen Levine, illustrated by Kadir Nelson
I Love My Hair!, by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley, illustrated by E. B. Lewis
In My Family/En mi familia, by Carmen Lomas Garza
Jingle Dancer, by Cynthia Leitich Smith, Ying-Hwa Hu, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright
Julián is a Mermaid, by Jessica Love
The Jones Family Express, by Javaka Steptoe
Juna’s Jar, by Jane Bahk, illustrated by Felicia Hoshino
Last Stop on Market Street, by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson
Little Melba and Her Big Trombone, by Katheryn Russell-Brown and Frank Morrison
Love, by Matt de la Peňa and Loren Long
Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match / Marisol McDonald No Combina, by Monica Brown and Sara Palacios
Maybe Something Beautiful, by F. Israel Campoy, Theresa Howell, illustrated by Rafael López
Meet Yasmin, by Saadia Faruqi and Hatem Aly
My Brother Charlie, by Holly Robinson Peete and Ryan Elizabeth Peete
My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood, by Tameka Fryer Brown, illustrated by Shane Evans
Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant’s Tale, by Duncan Tonatiuh
Niño Wrestles the World, by Yuyi Morales
Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, by Javaka Steptoe
Red: A Crayon’s Story, by Michael Hall
Ruby and the Booker Boys #1: Brand New School, Brave New Ruby, by  Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton
Sugar Plum Ballerinas #1: Plum Fantastic, by Whoopi Goldberg, Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Marilyn Roos
Sunday Shoppingby Sally Derby, illustrated by Shadra Strickland
Tea Cakes for Tosh, by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by E.B. Lewis
The Day You Begin, by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael López
The Seeing Stick, by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Daniela Terrazzini
This is the Rope: A Story from the Great Migration, by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by James Ransome
Thunder Boy Jr, by Sherman Alexie, illustrated by Yuyi Morales

Older Elementary
Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson
Dancing Home, by Alma Flor Ada and Gabriel M. Zubizarreta
In Daddy’s Arms I Am Tall: African Americans Celebrating Fathers, by various authors, illustrated by Javaka Steptoe
Jada Jones, Class Act, by Kelly Starling Lyons
Jaden Toussaint, The Greatest, by Marti Dumas
Lola Levine is Not Mean, by Monica Brown, illustrated by Angela Dominguez
One Crazy Summer, by Rita Williams-Garcia
Secret Coders, by Gene Luen Yang, illustrated by Mike Holmes
The First Rule of Punk, by Celia C. Pérez
We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices, edited by Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson
Zapato Power: Freddie Ramos Zooms to the Rescue, by Jacqueline Jules, illustrated by Miguel Benitez

Middle Grades/Teen/YA
The Crossover, by Kwame Alexander
Esperanza Rising, by Pam Munoz Ryan
Ghost, by Jason Reynolds
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, by Erika L. Sánchez
Listen, Slowly, by Thanhha Lai
Refugee, by Alan Gratz
Stef Soto, Taco Queen, by Jennifer Tores
The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
The Skin I’m In, by Sharon Flake
The Sun is Also a Star, by Nicola Yoon

You can download and print a pdf copy of the list here.

You can purchase diverse and inclusive books to donate from The Regulator Bookshop or Amazon here and have them shipped directly to our office.

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