I did it for selfish reasons:
I wanted to be part of the equation.
My goal was to share books, and fun looks, with my then 3-year old niece, Elise.
The point of my first backwords book was to create a frame in which to read a new sort of interactive story with her. I hoped to capture a few of the delicious, magical eye contacts that occur when we explore reflective surfaces with kids. These instants of connection can echo with happy memories across lifetimes.
Later, however, when I took myself completely out of the equation, I learned again that different perspectives offer great opportunities.
What happened was that children began reading to each other, with each other, in mirrors, no adults required.
It had never occurred to me when I designed my first book printed in reverse that I was making something I could be elbowed out of so easily. Sometimes there’s just not enough room for three in a mirror. I’d be jostled to its edge, slipping out of the eyeline to an observer’s position.
But from beside, I watched myself watching different groups of children smile and tease each other as they read in mirrors together. I witnessed their spontaneity and silliness that started with the story, then spread. I saw how kids of different ages competed for lines and corrected each other. They laughed at pronunciations, and rolled their eyes at repetitions. They didn’t always take turns. They were the center of each other’s attention, all without me.
I began to hear the same thing from parents and educators. Several mentioned that even after story time was over, the children continued to interact with each other in the reflection. Rather than focusing on the adult, or turning to talk to one another directly, they played together within the frame of the mirror, exploring the depths of reflections, pointing and mimicking. They went far beyond the book.
I’m pleased to hear it.
This kind of play is exciting, especially in times where educators such as myself, and parents, take note of discrepancies between screen time and creative social time in a child’s day.
I recently received word of a new YouTube video in which two children read a Mirror Read Book – My Middle Name is Truck – together in a mirror. It’s funny and well filmed, and shows the kinds of connections that are easily created when we enjoy stories in reflections. Thanks to Grampa Stephen, and to Colby (9) and Madeline (8).
I would be happy to post your photos or link to your videos of kids mirror reading with, or without, adults, – just let me know.