Being able to recognize yourself in the art that you consume is something that a lot of people take for granted. It is so important for kids to be able to find books, toys and media that features characters that look like them, have families that look like theirs, or live in places that resemble their neighborhoods. On January 27, 2018, we will be celebrating Multicultural Children’s Book Day, which is dedicated to raising awareness for children’s books which feature diverse characters, neighborhoods and families, and getting them onto bookshelves in schools, homes and communities. I’m thrilled to be a part of this important cause, and to have the opportunity to review three books that are part of the featured line up this year.
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The co-creators of Multicultural Children’s Book Day define a multicultural children’s book as a book that contains characters of color or represent a minority point of view, a book that shares ideas or stories about cultures, races, religions, languages and traditions, and/or a book that encourages children to embrace the world and find new ways to connect to a diverse world. Today I’m thrilled to share three different picture books that fulfill these definitions and offer an opportunity to teach children about diverse characters, cultures and ideas.
Traveling the World
Gokul Village and the Magic Fountain was written by Jeni Chapman and Bal Das and illustrated by Charlene Chua. This fun story introduces readers to a group of six friends who decide to fix up the fountain in their village. They are rewarded with the ability to use the fountain to travel the world, learning about cultures, holidays and celebrations in other countries.
Each of the six friends is not only diverse in appearance and background, but also in their skills and abilities. These abilities are amplified by the powers of the fountain, and they are able to do great things when they join forces and work together. As they travel the world and learn about other festivals, they decide to enhance the celebration in their own village by adding traditions from other countries and cultures. By gathering little pieces of each festival they visit, they turn their village’s party into the best one yet.
This book is the first in a series of adventures for these friends, and I think it will be a great one. The vast differences in the characters’ backgrounds and skill sets will allow for some great character development. The illustrations are bright and colorful, drawing you into the story and making you want to travel to the beautiful places they are visiting. As someone who loves learning about other cultures, I am excited to see how they continue traveling the world and picking up pieces of other cultures in the process.
Learning to be Accepting
Sparkle Boy was written by Leslea Newman and illustrated by Maria Mola. This story of acceptance follows a little boy named Casey and his older sister Jessie. Casey loves all of the sparkly and shimmery things that Jessie likes to play with. When she wears a sparkly skirt or wears shimmery nail polish, Casey wants to do the same. Jessie doesn’t like that her parents let Casey dress like her, and she is embarrassed when they go out in public together. However, when Casey gets picked on by some kids at the library, Jessie jumps in to defend him.
This book is a beautifully illustrated tale of acceptance and allowing people to be free to be who they want. The story doesn’t shy away from the discomfort that Jessie feels about her brother’s choices. The adults in the story are incredibly accepting of his decisions. I originally thought that I would have liked more conversation about the situation between the parents and Jessie, but there is something really nice about her coming to the realization on her own that she loves her brother the way he is. This book will definitely start conversations with kids about accepting people for their differences and feeling free to be whoever you want to be.
Learning about Other Cultures
Amelie Gets Busy was written by Agatha Rodi and illustrated by Joanna Scott. Amelie is visiting the farm in her Grandmother’s village, and she is impressed by all of the sights and smells around her. She walks through the garden, sharing everything she sees through short poems.
This book encourages kids to look at the small details of life around them, just as Amelie treasures all of the small details in her Grandmother’s village. The illustrations are soft and colorful, bringing the descriptive language to life. While the story is meant to give kids a glimpse of Greek village life, parts of the story are universal enough for kids anywhere to experience, reminding us how similar we really are.
Teaching and Learning Through Literature
I really appreciate the push for more diverse children’s books. It is so important for kids to be able to recognize themselves or their lives in the characters that they are reading about. In addition, I have always been fascinated by other cultures, and so I am always excited when I can learn about them through great picture books that my daughter and I can enjoy together. To learn more about Multicultural Children’s Book Day, check out the list of sponsors and resources below!
Learn More About Multicultural Children’s Book Day
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2018 (1/27/18) is in its 5th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.
Current Sponsors: MCBD 2018 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board.
2018 MCBD Medallion Sponsors
PLATINUM:Scholastic Book Clubs
BRONZE: Barefoot Books, Carole P. Roman, Charlesbridge Publishing, Dr. Crystal Bowe, Gokul! World, Green Kids Club, Gwen Jackson, Jacqueline Woodson, Juan J. Guerra, Language Lizard, Lee & Low Books, RhymeTime Storybooks, Sanya Whittaker Gragg, TimTimTom Books, WaterBrook & Multnomah, Wisdom Tales Press
2018 Author Sponsors
Author Janet Balletta, Author Susan Bernardo, Author Carmen Bernier-Grand, Author Tasheba Berry-McLaren and Space2Launch, Bollywood Groove Books, Author Anne Broyles, Author Kathleen Burkinshaw, Author Eugenia Chu, Author Lesa Cline-Ransome, Author Medeia Cohan and Shade 7 Publishing, Desi Babies, Author Dani Dixon and Tumble Creek Press, Author Judy Dodge Cummings, Author D.G. Driver, Author Nicole Fenner and Sister Girl Publishing, Debbi Michiko Florence, Author Josh Funk, Author Maria Gianferrari, Author Daphnie Glenn, Globe Smart Kids, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, Author Quentin Holmes, Author Esther Iverem, Jennifer Joseph: Alphabet Oddities, Author Kizzie Jones, Author Faith L Justice , Author P.J. LaRue and MysticPrincesses.com, Author Karen Leggett Abouraya, Author Sylvia Liu, Author Sherri Maret, Author Melissa Martin Ph.D., Author Lesli Mitchell, Pinky Mukhi and We Are One, Author Miranda Paul, Author Carlotta Penn, Real Dads Read, Greg Ransom, Author Sandra L. Richards, RealMVPKids Author Andrea Scott, Alva Sachs and Three Wishes Publishing, Shelly Bean the Sports Queen, Author Sarah Stevenson, Author Gayle H. Swift Author Elsa Takaoka, Author Christine Taylor-Butler, Nicholette Thomas and MFL Publishing Author Andrea Y. Wang, Author Jane Whittingham Author Natasha Yim
We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.
TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Scholastic Book Clubs: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/27/18 at 9:00pm.
Join the conversation and win one of 12-5 book bundles and one Grand Prize Book Bundle (12 books) that will be given away at the party! http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/twitter-party-great-conversations-fun-prizes-chance-readyourworld-1-27-18/
Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrta
Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teacher-classroom-empathy-kit/
Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.