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Windows and Mirrors: LGBTQ Literature Reflections and Recommendations

June 5, 2018

Windows and Mirrors: LGBTQ Literature Reflections and Recommendations


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By Tricia Baldes

Rudine Sims Bishop, professor emerita of education at Ohio State University wrote,

“Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created or recreated by the author. When lighting conditions are just right, however, a window can also be a mirror. 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 a larger human experience. Reading, then, becomes a means of self-affirmation, and readers often seek their mirrors in books.”

This idea of books as windows, as sliding glass doors, and as mirrors, is something we talk about a lot in my eighth- grade classroom. My students often refer to books using these terms, identifying “mirror books” and “window books” and they have strong convictions that both are important for them as readers and as young adults.

Everyone deserves to see themselves in books. And as a teacher curating a classroom library, I feel it is my responsibility to make sure all of my students have access to books that are mirrors for them. A few years ago, an eighth-grader brought to my attention that my library was not living up to this expectation for my LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning, intersex, asexual and allies) students. I recognized this truth, and responded immediately, committing to becoming more familiar with books that could serve as mirrors for my LGBTQ students and making sure these books were on my library shelves. And because of the work of authors of books for young adults (YA), I did not struggle to find amazing books to fill this need.

Here are a few of my favorites:

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