On the ClubX Blog, we love inclusion, diversity, reading, and celebrations. All of these come together in Multicultural Children’s Book Day! To help you bring it to your youth, I’m serving bulleted list realness.
First observed in 2012, the mission of Multicultural Children’s Book Day is to raise awareness for Children’s Literature that celebrate diversity, so that children can “find themselves” within the pages of the books they read. Co-creators Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen define multicultural children’s books as:
- Books that contain characters of color as well as main characters that represent a minority point of view.
- Books written by an author of diversity or color from their perspective.
- Books that share ideas, stories, and information about cultures, race, religion, language, and traditions. These books can be non-fiction, but still written in a way that kids will find entertaining and informative.
- Books that embrace special needs or even “hidden disabilities” like ADHD, ADD, and anxiety.
Why are multicultural children’s books important? Studies say that:
- They foster positive self-esteem and prevent youth from feeling isolated.
- They nurture respect, empathy, and acceptance among all youth.
- They promote the interaction of children across differing ethnic backgrounds, fostering the belief that racial differences contribute to the beauty of our multicultural world.
- They can help youth develop global awareness by introducing them to current cultural issues, teaching them to look critically at the world.
- They can help assist young people with their identity formation, giving them a sense of belonging and acceptance in society.
So how can you find multicultural children’s literature for your Club? Here are some of my favorite resources:
- Download resources from the Multicultural Children’s Book Day Website.
Your best resource to get started is the Multicultural Children’s Book Day website. They’ve got a free classroom kit download for 2020’s theme, Physical and Developmental Challenges: Understand and Celebrate Our Differences. In the kit you’ll find suggested books for each of a long list of physical and developmental challenges that young people may face, including ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Cancer, Diabetes, Wearing Glasses, Mental Illness, Speech and Language Difficulties, and so many more. There are also links to other educational and activity resources. You can also download the official poster here.
- Find list upon list upon list at We Need Diverse Books.
This nonprofit focuses on making changes in the publishing industry to promote diverse literature. They have a massive list to lots of other lists grouped by subject, and they’ve also created an app called OurStory with a searchable database of books for kids and teens. You can get more functionality by becoming a paid subscriber, but the free level is awesome.
- Get super specific at ClubX Blog favorite, A Mighty Girl.
A Mighty Girl’s book section has over 3,000 girl-empowering books filterable by age, awards won, categories, and more. I love how wide-ranging their categories are – a sampling includes Abuse/Violence, Homelessness, Illness/Disease, Poverty/Hardship, Mental Health, and Weight. Links to Amazon make it super easy to compile a wish list that you could distribute to community partners or donors.
- Read books from around the world at the International Children’s Digital Library.
This digital library is amazing, especially if you have young people who read languages other than English. They’ve got books uploaded to the site from all over the world geared to ages 3-13 in tons of languages, including Afrikaans, Tagalog, Hindi, Arabic, Spanish, Urdu, and lots more. Some even have English alongside another language which is great for learners. Now to be fair, some of the books are very old, and the functionality of the site isn’t fancy, but it is such a treasure trove of world literature that it is worth it.
- Connect with your local public library.
I am a big ol’ fan of public libraries and librarians. When I was working both as a classroom teacher and an Education Director at the Club, I immediately made friends with my local children’s librarians. They are a great resource for every day of the year, but for Multicultural Children’s Book Day they could curate a list of books for you to borrow, or may even be willing to come to your Club to lead programming. With a library card you can also access ebooks and audiobooks which you could use on tablets.
However you choose to celebrate, it’s clear that having books in the Club that reflect the glorious diversity of the world is important, not just on one day, but all year long. Find more of our favorite books by checking the read-alouds tag here on the ClubX Blog.
What are you planning to do for Multicultural Children’s Book Day? How do you celebrate diversity of all kinds at your Club? Comment below, on the BGCA Youth Development Facebook page, or email us at ClubXBlog@bgca.org to share.