Seeing yourself in books matters.
I never knew how much it did. Probably because I read a lot of books growing up that had girls like me as a character. So, admittedly, I never thought about it then.
I think about it a lot now.
Earlier this week, my son had to finish the sentence “When I’m 100 years old I…” He wrote only one line: “I will have hearing aids.” I stopped and stared at his carefully written words. Who knows what the technology will be like when he’s 10, 20, or 30… or even 100…but most likely hearing loss will always be a part of his reality. And I love that part of him. But I know he wrestles with it sometimes.
Especially when he just doesn’t see that many others on a daily basis who have hearing loss too – especially in books.
Last night, we were doing his reading homework in the big soft-sided English textbook. When we got to the page pictured here, I stopped and said “Do you see what I see?” He looked at the page and then chuckled to himself in surprise. “That’s silly!” he said.
Confused, I asked him why it was silly.
“Because boys in books don’t have hearing aids.”
Of course there are some books where they do, but you have to search for them. And this is the first child with hearing loss we’ve found in a homework book. Behind his giggles, I knew he was also digesting that a character in a book, a school book no less, could look like him.
I see more books being developed every day that allow kids to see themselves as the main characters as well as supporting characters. And, truth be told, I hope I can help my son see himself in more books too someday very soon.
Because if reading matters, then seeing yourself in books matters.
How else will you know how incredible your own story can be?