One of the unexpected benefits of venturing into the world of blogging has been the opportunity to meet other bloggers. As I started following and commenting, one post led to another. I met bloggers who share many of the same passions that I do, namely children’s literature, family, and traveling.
Since our family is a mix of ethnicities through adoption and marriage, I felt it was important to find books for my children that show multi-racial and multi-generational families. As a teacher of children from many different backgrounds I want to share books where children see themselves in the books they read. I especially want to find picture books and easy readers that reflect diversity since I work with children developing literacy skills. It hasn’t been easy. Children need to read books about people like themselves as well as people of other cultures who live in different places and face different challenges. Books are a place to begin to understand people that are different and learn that, in many ways, they are the same.
I began following bloggers who were also on the lookout for books showing the diversity that exists in our country and in the world. From following Pam Margolis at Unconventional Librarian, I learned about the KidLit blog conference on diversity in children’s and YA books. It happened to be just up the highway in Sacramento so off I went. I met bloggers and authors with diverse backgrounds and learned that only 10% of published children’s books have any content that shows the diversity that exists in our country.
The important takeaway from this conference is that we need diverse books for the young that reflect real people in the real world.
The mission of Multicultural Children’s Book Day is “to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these books into classrooms and libraries.
You can learn more about this wonderful event at the Multicultural Children’ Book Day website.
The website has links to authors and bloggers as well as lists of quality books that celebrate diversity. A virtual book drive with partner First Book is being held and The Children’s Book Council has resources that tie in with Multicultural Children’s Book Day.
I am excited to be one of the book reviewers for this great event. I will be posting my book reviews in the week ahead.
In the meantime, here’s a challenge for you:
Find children’s books that:
- Feature a main character who is of a different ethnicity than yours
- Feature a main character who belongs to a different religions than yours
- Features a family that happens to be multi-generational or cultural (not as a central theme but because that’s the way some families are)
- Is set in a country that is foreign to you and explores that culture
- Features characters from different cultures who meet and share their differences
- Now, share these books with children you know.
Here is a quote to think about:
“Books transmit values. They explore our common humanity. What is the message when some children are not represented in those books?” – Walter Dean Myers
Let me know some of your favorite children’s books that reflect and celebrate diversity.