How We Select Books
“Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange. […] 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 the larger human experience.”
– Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop, Professor Emerita of Education at Ohio State University
We’re committed to ensuring that the books available to SMART Reading students align with research on building reading motivation and enjoyment, and reflect our values around diversity and inclusion. We have carefully hand-selected books for our program based on studies that demonstrate the importance of diverse and inclusive books and that highly engaging reading material increases reading comprehension.
To ensure that every child can find a book that appeals to them, we provide a wide range of options, including:
Example: Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin
Example: Fly Guy Presents: Bats by Tedd Arnold
- Mirror books: Also known as culturally relevant books, mirrors allow readers to see images that reflect their own lives. Finding their own culture and experiences in books helps children develop a positive sense of identity and self-esteem, and also improve their reading comprehension and language skills.
- Window books: Windows allow readers to see the lives of people with experiences different from their own. A variety of books representing diverse cultures helps children to develop attitudes of openness around difference. A book can be a mirror book for one child, and a window book for another.
- Example: Ling and Ting: Not Exactly the Same by Grace Lin
Example: Round is a Tortilla/Las tortillas son redondas by Roseanne Thong
In addition to ensuring SMART Reading sites all contain a wide variety of books, we use the following set of guidelines to inform our selection process:
Every SMART Reading book:
- Is new or in like-new condition.
- Is appropriate for participating students’ listening and reading levels.
- Is appealing to students and draws them in with engaging illustrations, story, and meaning.
SMART Reading books do not contain:
- Excessive violence.
- Racist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise biased content, using as a guide “Ten Quick Ways to Analyze Children’s Books for Sexism and Racism” by Louise Derman-Sparks.
- Themes that wouldn’t be appropriate for non-familial adults to read with children in a school setting.
- Religious or holiday themes (including secular holidays).