This past week we attended our first ever BookExpo America and boy was it a whirlwind of awesomeness! We admit to being a little star struck by all the amazing children’s book authors we met: Kwame Alexander, Sherri Rinker, Miranda Paul, Dav Pilkey (yes, THE Captain Underpants himself!).
Check out our highlights from #BEA16
But the real lessons learned came from two major points:
1. Books are mirrors and windows.
During an African American children’s author panel, Kwame Alexander captured the very essence of diversity in reading and writing when he surmised that if we all understood that books are mirrors and windows, we would all grow into better people.
The books we read and write often reflect our own selves—both the good and the bad. We each carry our own lens and when we only use books as mirrors, we limit our ability to see different perspectives.
What unlocks understanding of others’ perspectives? Treating books like windows—windows into the unknown, windows into the foreign, and windows into people who are different from us.
Look out, not in.
That is how we create a more understanding and tolerant world.
2. Read without walls.
Gene Luen Yang, author of Secret Coders: Secrets & Sequences, gave a standing ovation speech at an author’s breakfast we attended. Not only do his books help kids learn to code through engaging literature, he also helps broaden horizons with his #ReadingWithoutWalls challenge.
Here’s the challenge:
Read a book about a character who doesn’t look like you or live like you
Read a book about a topic you don’t know much about
Read a book in a format that you don’t normally read for fun (a chapter book, a graphic novel, a book in verse, etc.)