Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop, professor emerita at Ohio State University and children’s literature researcher, wrote an essay in 1990 titled, “Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors.” The essay described books as windows through which the reader could view other lives and worlds and sliding glass doors through which they could step into those experiences using their imagination. As mirrors, books are ways in which readers could and should see themselves reflected.
Holding these values as a school librarian means advocating for equitable access to a variety of high-quality resources and information. It’s disturbing to have been watching the national, regional and local trend of efforts to ban books and impose restrictions on education – efforts that aim to impose the personally held beliefs of some upon all. It’s an act of fear.
It’s one thing to sustain our beliefs and practices in our personal lives but working to prevent others from accessing resources and education crosses a dangerous line. An adult’s personal beliefs do not supersede all other children’s rights to their education.
My family chose to make Moorestown our home in no small part due to the excellence of the schools and knowing our children would receive a quality education. They have a right to free public education, one that is available to all and does not discriminate or restrict based on personally held beliefs of some.
I am not afraid of my children being exposed to and learning about opinions, experiences and worlds different from our own. In fact, I welcome it because it strengthens important areas of brain development, including critical independent thinking and empathy. At the forefront of my mind on Election Day will be the knowledge that our community deserves schools, libraries and other spaces that are free from fear and open to providing mirrors, windows and sliding glass doors.