These books are great choices for middle-grade and older kids for Multicultural Children’s Book Day. Affiliate links included for your convenience.
Did you know there is such a thing as Multicultural Children’s Book Day?
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2019 (1/25/19) is in its 6th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. The 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.
As part of MCBD as it is known for short, I was sent a couple of books to review, either of which would be a fun addition to your library (home or otherwise) to help kids gain a bit of understanding about a different culture.
Every Sparrow Was Made to Fly
The first book is Every Sparrow Was Made to Fly by Lin Thomas. The book tells the story of Sammy, an Indian girl whose family moves to America. Sammy is shy and worried she won’t make friends at her new school, and at the same time worried because her family is facing the sale of their ancestral home back in India.
A mysterious painting she brought from India offers clues she hopes will allow the family to save their home, and a bit of magic that helps her make friends and become more comfortable in her new life.
This is a sweet story aimed at kids ages 7-13, and it has a nice message about being yourself and understanding that no one else is really confident, either, which all kids (and adults!) need to learn.
I didn’t love the element of “magic” in the story (an invisible bird gives Sammy pep talks as a stand-in for good parenting) but kids probably won’t mind as much.
Every Sparrow Was Made to Fly explores a little bit what life in India is like and how it feels to be the new person at school, in a completely new country and culture, but still manages to be relatable for kids who have never had that experience.
About the book: 178 pages, paperback, published 2018. Retail price $9.99
Out of the Pocket
I also received Out of the Pocket by B.E. Stanfel. This one is for older kids, as the main character is a senior in high school and the Iraq War plays a big part in the plot.
Mercer is a typical self-absorbed American teenager, addicted to mochas from Starbucks and trying to get the guts to talk to the girl of his dreams. He’s also the son of the football coach for his team in Iowa, and he’s sure his chances at getting noticed by recruiting scouts have been diminished by the fact that his dad is serving in Iraq (and the fact that the team’s quarterback is terrible).
The book is presented in the form of a journal he’s been made to keep for his creative writing class at his Catholic high school, as well as through emails he exchanges with his dad and, later, his father’s young Iraqi interpreter, who teaches Mercer there are a lot more important things in the world than complaining about homework (Ahmed is just happy it’s safe enough to go to school) and having to help his family while his dad is away.
Through the emails Mercer learns a little bit about the history of Iraq, the difference between Sunnis and Shiites and gets to see different points of view about why the war he opposes might still have good results. These lessons read a little bit like they were cribbed from Wikipedia from time to time, but they provide a good overview for readers as well.
The end of this book is a little too fairy tale for my liking (and there are events that happen where I feel like, on evidence of my own high school journals, Mercer should have gotten a lot more emotional), but it does offer a glimpse into Iraqi life and reminds readers that the more complicated an issue is, the more sides there are.
About the book: 214 pages, paperback, published 2013. Retail price $6.94
More about Multicultural Children’s Book Day
MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board!
Medallion Level Sponsors
Super Platinum: Make A Way Media
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
TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Make A Way Media: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual @McChildsBookDay Twitter Party will be held 1/25/19 at 9:00pm.E.S.T. TONS of prizes and book bundles will be given away during the party ( a prize every 5 minutes!). GO HERE for more details.
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.
Have a favorite book for kids with diverse characters? I’d love to hear about it!