You may not have heard, but today is Multicultural Children’s Book Day. I first heard about it via The Conscious Kid, which is an Instagram handle worth following if you’re interested in raising anti-racist and race-conscious children.
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2019 is in its 6th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Their mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.
The book that I received to review is Hideki and Kenji Save the Day, by Bonnie West and Diane Carter. It’s a sweet book about two brothers in Japan who experience what they think is an earthquake, only to discover that it’s actually the movement of a baby dinosaur outside of their house. They work together to find a way to save their small village from the tremors while also making it possible for the dinosaur to move about freely. All of our kids seemed to enjoy the book, perhaps Jude most of all. They all enjoyed guessing what the boys would try and what would happen next. It’s a bilingual book in both English and Japanese, and while we don’t speak or read Japanese in our household, it gave us an opportunity to point out to our children that some languages use characters other than the ones they are learning to read in English. Another element of the book that I really appreciated was the close relationship between the two brothers. Strong sibling relationships is something that I prioritize in books and other media for our kids because I don’t like to have negative sibling relationships modeled for them to emulate. The brothers in the book are clearly close friends who do everything together, and I loved that about it.
My only concern about the book is a small one. Just a few days before I received the book in the mail, I happened to read this article (also shared by The Conscious Kid), Speak With Us, Not For Us by Grace Lin. In the article, she argues that white children’s book writers who care about the need for “diverse books” do have a role in helping to educate race-conscious children, but that role is not to tell the stories of people of color. Writers of color can tell those stories themselves.
[I]f white authors truly want to support diversity and equity, we would all be better served if they, instead, wrote white characters who are aware of the racial disparity in our society and grapple with their privilege and all the complexity that entails.
She goes on to say that books in which white characters are aware of racial disparity are exceedingly difficult to find, and that white authors who care about equity are uniquely qualified to write them so that our children can read them.
As far as I can gather, the two authors of Hideki and Kenji Save the Day are white women. It seems that they have an excellent reason for having written the book. According to Amazon:
Bonnie West and Diane Carter first met in a Japanese class and became study partners and friends. In March of 2011, a friend in Japan told Bonnie how very afraid her two young boys were after the devastating earthquake and tsunami. Bonnie and Diane decided to write a story for the boys that their mother could read to them.
It’s a compassionate reason to have written the book, and yet I have to admit that when I received it I was slightly disappointed, as I’d expected to receive and celebrate a book by a writer of color reflecting his or her worldview. That said, it’s a sweet book that our three- and six-year-olds enjoyed and I’m certain that many others will as well.
What are some of your favorite multicultural children’s books? I’d love to hear about them.
FREE RESOURCES From MCBD
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.
Now for the fine print from Multicultural Children’s Book Day:
MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board!
Medallion Level Sponsors
Honorary: Children’s Book Council, The Junior Library Guild, TheConsciousKid.org.
Super Platinum: Make A Way Media
GOLD: Bharat Babies, Candlewick Press, Chickasaw Press, Juan Guerra and The Little Doctor / El doctorcito, KidLitTV, Lerner Publishing Group, Plum Street Press,
SILVER: Capstone Publishing, Carole P. Roman, Author Charlotte Riggle, Huda Essa, The Pack-n-Go Girls,
BRONZE: Charlesbridge Publishing, Judy Dodge Cummings, Author Gwen Jackson, Kitaab World, Language Lizard – Bilingual & Multicultural Resources in 50+ Languages, Lee & Low Books, Miranda Paul and Baptiste Paul, Redfin, Author Gayle H. Swift, T.A. Debonis-Monkey King’s Daughter, TimTimTom Books, Lin Thomas, Sleeping Bear Press/Dow Phumiruk, Vivian Kirkfield,
MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Author Sponsors on board
Honorary: Julie Flett, Mehrdokht Amini,
Author Janet Balletta, Author Kathleen Burkinshaw, Author Josh Funk, Chitra Soundar, One Globe Kids – Friendship Stories, Sociosights Press and Almost a Minyan, Karen Leggett, Author Eugenia Chu, CultureGroove Books, Phelicia Lang and Me On The Page, L.L. Walters, Author Sarah Stevenson, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, Hayley Barrett, Sonia Panigrah, Author Carolyn Wilhelm, Alva Sachs and Dancing Dreidels, Author Susan Bernardo, Milind Makwana and A Day in the Life of a Hindu Kid, Tara Williams, Veronica Appleton, Author Crystal Bowe, Dr. Claudia May, Author/Illustrator Aram Kim, Author Sandra L. Richards, Erin Dealey, Author Sanya Whittaker Gragg, Author Elsa Takaoka, Evelyn Sanchez-Toledo, Anita Badhwar, Author Sylvia Liu, Feyi Fay Adventures, Author Ann Morris, Author Jacqueline Jules, CeCe & Roxy Books, Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace, LEUYEN PHAM, Padma Venkatraman, Patricia Newman and Lightswitch Learning, Shoumi Sen, Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, Traci Sorell, Shereen Rahming, Blythe Stanfel, Christina Matula, Julie Rubini, Paula Chase, Erin Twamley, Afsaneh Moradian, Lori DeMonia, Claudia Schwam, Terri Birnbaum/ RealGirls Revolution, Soulful Sydney, Queen Girls Publications, LLC
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.
Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts
A Crafty Arab, Agatha Rodi Books, All Done Monkey, Barefoot Mommy, Biracial Bookworms, Books My Kids Read, Crafty Moms Share, Colours of Us, Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes, Descendant of Poseidon Reads, Educators Spin on it, Growing Book by Book, Here Wee Read, Joy Sun Bear/ Shearin Lee, Jump Into a Book, Imagination Soup,Jenny Ward’s Class, Kid World Citizen, Kristi’s Book Nook, The Logonauts, Mama Smiles, Miss Panda Chinese, Multicultural Kid Blogs, Raising Race Conscious Children, Shoumi Sen, Spanish Playground
3 thoughts on “Multicultural Children’s Book Day”
I somewhat object to an author passing judgement on another author because of their race. Why not recognize whether the message is one that resonates with you before you look at who the author is with respect to their ethnic background. You know, anyone can be an advocate and or educator if they are well informed.
I understand your feelings completely. Kristin actually wasn’t sure that she agreed with that perspective either, so we had a lengthy discussion about it and talked to a good friend who works in anti-racism in schools. I think that one of the points (which I didn’t make in the blog post) is that getting published is tough, and it’s important to make space for writers of color to be published if there’s a demand for “diverse” children’s books. It’s all too easy for white writers to take those spaces. Kind of like radio stations that will say, “but we’re already playing a female artist right now.” You may want to read the article that I linked to, she makes some good points about male and female writers too that create a good analogy.
That is a good perspective as well. Sometimes people come into the bookstore asking for the section on black authors. I still feel that it doesn’t matter who the artist is, which is the point of the content.
Interestingly, I read a book that Has become one of my favorites of all time, so decided to read another by the same author (a man). The author writes great literary quality but the second book I read was written from a woman’s point of view. I found that very interesting