How To Use Books in Your Home

Children's literature is a great approach to help your child develop a positive racial identity.  Children are being socialized on a consistent basis that sends a messages about what is good or the norm, and what is not.  Socialization is occuring in school, at home, and within the community, and children are internalizing what (and who) they see, as well as what (or who) they do not see.  Ensure that children are reading content that speaks to their excellence, and not just negative or oppressive situations.  Also, have conversations about what children/youth are reading in school and at home.  Critical literacy methods helps them analyze what they see, in ways that helps them make sense of how they see their world.  Questions to ask as they read stories (which are extensions of the "normal" questions we ask while reading:

  • Who are the main characters? Do they look or talk like me?  Do you think that matters? What are your thoughts if they look/talk different than you?
  • Where does this story take place?  How is it similar or different than where you live?  How is it different?
  • What is the problem in the story? Who solves it? Who is included? Who is excluded? Who has the power? Who does not?
  • Whose viewpoints or ideas are included in the story? Whose are missing?
  • How could this story be told in a way that affirms or shares power with more characters? How could this story be told so it is more fair to all characters?

Children's literature should be representative of what Dr. Rudine Bishop labels "Windows and Mirrors."  Windows are what children see when they are looking out of their own world.  Include literature in your library that shows other races and cultures, skin tones, hair styles, non-normative roles (e.g. male nurse, female mechanic), abilities and disabilities, non-coloniezed histories, genders, religions, holidays, languages, citizenship, family structure, sexual identity. 

Mirrors are the books that reflect who your children are: again, emphasize race, culture, skin tone, hair styles, interests, abilities and disabilities, historically accurate history, religion, holidays, language, citizenship, family structure, sexual identity.

It is important for children to be affirmed through the literature they are reading, as well as see and understand how others may live.  These are Resources we use in my family to explore and find literature that provides windows and mirrors for childrent/youth:

Questions? Dr. Tehia Starker Glass tehia.glass@uncc.edu Interested in the Black Parent Advocacy Group? Email me!