Multicultural Children’s Book Day
If you are like me, you may not have even known that there was a Multicultural Children’s Book Day! I can’t tell you how excited I was- as a mom, Teacher, and person of color- to learn of this beautiful movement. How wonderful to have a group of like-minded people work together to help ensure that children of different cultures, backgrounds, religions, beliefs, and family traditions are represented and seen worldwide!
Even more to my delight, was being accepted as a Book Reviewer for this momentous literary occasion. “I would absolutely love to review a book for Multicultural Children’s Book Day (MCBD)”! When I was given the opportunity to review a second book, I jumped at the opportunity. You all know how much I love children’s literature. If you have been interacting with me for a while, you also know how important multiculturalism, diversity, and culturally responsiveness are to me, as well. What a wonderful way to get the conversation started and to motivate and inspire parents, educators, librarians- everyone- to begin actively, and purposefully, thinking about the literature that they put in front of children- of all ages!
Listen As I Share the Stories With You
The Reviews Are In!
Gokul Village and the Magic Fountain, written by Jeni Chapman and Bal Das, illustrated by Charlene Chua
I am honored to share my review of the book Gokul Village and the Magic Fountain. The cover illustration was colorful and eye-catching. I did not have to wait until I opened the pages of the book to see a diverse set of characters. Right away, I was able to see that children of different cultures were represented in this story.
Will the fountain be repaired in time to host the annual New Years celebration? The children in this story, have a common goal of cleaning up the fountain in their village. They all work together to help make the space presentable and desirable so that they will be able to have a New Years day celebration.
What I really loved about the children’s determination to fix the fountain, was that all of the children worked together. In the midst of this, one student takes the lead- a female character. She then delegates roles to the other children based on their strengths and interests. Working together by using their gifts and talents pays off, and their teamwork and perseverance lead them on an unexpected adventure. How amazing for girls to have opportunities to take the lead in an activity or event, and to have male characters gladly and willingly participate and follow their lead! I loved that!!
Truly, what stood out to me the most about this book was the cultural, traditional, and religious representation via each character and all of the illustrations. The children have names that would be reflective of their ethnicity. In addition, there is a character of Jewish faith in the story. Jacob wears a Yarmulke throughout the book. Personally, I have never encountered a Jewish character in children’s literature in a story that wasn’t explicitly about the Jewish faith (like in a book about Hanukkah). I took delight in having a moment to experience this! Gokul Village and the Magic Fountain does a phenomenal job of being diverse and culturally responsive.
I would give this book 3 out of 5 stars.
The characters and the illustrations- LOVED! The heart behind the story- diversity, religious and cultural representation, breaking gender stereotypes- is worth 10 stars! The story, however, was not one that truly drew me in and gave me the “I must get this book for my students” feel. The book begins with a lovely start, but the “reason” for needing to clean up the fountain seems a bit far-fetched. If the celebration is typically held around the fountain, then the fountain didn’t just suddenly become run down. That would have been happening over time, and it is likely that it was already too deteriorated to have been the center of the previous year’s celebration, as well.
That was really the one piece that made me scratch my head and re-read that portion of the story a few times to see if I had missed something. Additionally, it only takes the children 2 days to restore the fountain?! If the job was that simple, couldn’t the Mayor have gotten paid employees to do this task? After all, the fountain was central to the annual village celebration. Hmmm. Maybe the village could not afford the repairs? For me, the book was… frazzled? There was just something missing with this book.
The “story” did not capture me, personally, but it is definitely a book that your students should see and experience. One of the most beautiful gifts that we can give to our students is the opportunity to see themselves represented in the activities that we expose them to and engage them in! However, we do still need to expose our students to quality literature. The writing may not have been very strong, but the level of inclusion and diversity of this book is a leap in the direction that we should all be moving towards in literature (and life). This book will definitely be added to my class library!
Alicia’s Happy Day, written by Meg Starr, art by Ying-hwa Hu and Cornelius Van Wright
“May you hear salsa and start to dance” was the sentence that had me at HELLO! Isn’t that a great sensory description? My face lit up and my feet wanted to Cha Cha! This sentence from Alicia’s Happy Day shares the light and joyful story about a little girl’s birthday. It provides wishes for all good things to happen to, and for, Alicia for her birthday. The writing is very simple for children to follow- with one sentence on each page. Initially, this was a negative aspect (the sentences are very succinct), but I began to think that it might have been simplistic to illicit a feeling of freedom and lightness. It also makes the concept and sentiment of the story easy to follow. The illustrations are softly painted with watercolor, but are joyful and full of life.
Latin American culture is proudly and vibrantly displayed in this picture book. The sentences are infused with the Spanish language and on one of the pages there is a painting that features flags of different Latin American countries. Short and easy to read, this story will leave a little light glowing in your heart.
I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars.
This is a very nice, positive, and happy story. It is a wonderful way to bring Latin culture and characters into your classroom or home. I will definitely add it to my class library! The simplicity of the story may be too… well, simple for me. However, overall, it is a sweet story with beautifully painted illustrations that bring the Latin culture to life in a modern and present-day manner.
I sincerely hope that you enjoyed listening to these two stories! Even more so, it is my hope that you will fully engage yourself and your students/children, not only in Multicultural Children’s Book Day, but in making multicultural, diverse, and culturally responsive books accessible to all children. Read below to see how you can get free books and resources, and for other ways that you can participate in this fabulous and extremely important movement.
#ReadYourWorld You can search this hashtag to find other book reviews.
Click on the image to purchase your copy of Gokul Village and the Magic Fountain. Use the gray scroll bar to see more.
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Click on the picture to purchase a copy of a Alicia’s Happy Day, in English and Spanish. Use the gray scroll bar to see more.
This is an Affiliate link.
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (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.
Get Involved in Multicultural Children’s Book Day
- TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Scholastic Book Clubs: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/27/18 at 9:00 p.m.
- 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/
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 Co-Host Team who not only host the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also work tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our Co-Hosts HERE.