I believe that stories, particularly children’s stories, are as close to magic as we’ll come this side of Heaven. A good book grips us and doesn’t let go, engaging our minds and inspiring our senses as we follow the author down paths of prose and rhythms of verse. Who doesn't remember Dr. Seuss for instance?
For some of us, myself included, stories are like candy. Those of us who have been life-long lovers of stories, don’t need any more convincing of the import of literature. We just need to go back to the last time we couldn’t put a book down, maybe even reading long into the night so we can keep pace with the unfolding plot. When was the last time that you’ve been transported into another world by the power of a well-crafted story?
For others, like my wife, stories are more like vegetables. The benefits of consuming them are self-evident and, sometimes, if prepared properly can be downright enjoyable. Like eating vegetables, some people view reading as a virtuous habit that they should more regularly practice. And, there’s no doubt. There are plenty of resources (like this, and this, and this … to list a few) which all illustrate the functional benefits enjoyed by habitual readers.
At Keepsake Tales, it’s our goal to help as many children as possible to view stories as candy, so that they have the opportunity to enjoy the vegetable-like benefits for the rest of their lives.
One of my favorite illustrations was crafted by the great Rudine Sims Bishop, who’s been called the “Mother of Multicultural Children’s Literature”. She describes books as windows, sliding glass doors and, sometimes, as mirrors. In her own words:
“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 the larger human experience. Reading, then, becomes a means of self-affirmation, and readers often seek their mirrors in books.” For the full article, check out this link.
This description perfectly articulates my own relationship with stories and, before I became obsessed with understanding how others relate to children’s literature, I assumed that everybody had the opportunity to experience the windows, sliding glass doors and mirrors of literature. Here’s a great article by Scholastic which borrows Bishop’s metaphor and which succinctly illustrates why it’s so important for kids to see themselves reflected in stories.
But then I discovered a major problem, a problem which we are dedicated to solving at Keepsake Tales. There are so, so many children who will never have the opportunity to develop a deep-rooted love for reading because they’re not able to find books with children that look them in the story. That’s tragic.
What’s even worse are the social implications. We’ll dive more into this in our next few blog posts but, for now, suffice it to say that there are consequences when children don’t see themselves in the stories that they read.
At Keepsake Tales, we exist because we believe that every child is one of a kind. We believe that every child is intrinsically valuable. We are building the most personalized children’s books in the world so that every child will understand that they matter.Won’t you join us? You can do so by signing up for our mailing list at https://mykeepsaketales.com/