Why Do We Need Diverse Books?

Growing up in a small town of North-India, our only access to storybooks was our school library, a paradise filled with racks after racks, overflowing with books. Many blissful hours were spent there with my nose buried in a book. When I look back to that time, I realised I mostly read books written by Enid Blyton, especially until grade seven. I read my first proper book by an Indian author in grade eight which was, Jawaher Lal Nehru’s “Letters From A Father To His Daughter”. It might have been a colonial hangover and/or lack of books written by Indians but, most of the books in the library were written by western authors. I grew up dreaming of picnics in meadows, lacrosse in summers, ginger ale and ham sandwiches ( when poor vegetarian me had no clue what ham meant!). While I enjoyed reading the books, subconsciously I understood that the world described in these books was not my world.

When my children were young, one of my biggest worries was how to introduce India to them. I wanted them to know about Indian history, mythology and folktales. I wanted India to be as familiar to them as our adopted country. This was where books came in as saviours. With a boom in Indian publishing, books written by Indian authors about India were now available in bookstores for almost all ages. Books on India with familiar characters, names and places, became trustworthy allies in introducing India to my children. Their bookshelves had children’s classics like Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton, jostling for space with Sudha Murthy, Ruskin Bond and Subhadra Sen Gupta. Which is when I realised the power of diverse books

Multicultural Children’s Book Day is celebrated annually on the last Friday in January, this year it fell on 29th January. Founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen, the day is for celebrating and promoting diverse books. The objective was not only to raise awareness about diverse books but also to give more access to children to read diverse books through libraries and classrooms. Through MBCD, they provide access to classroom resources for teachers and schools as well. This was my second year as a book reviewer for the MBCD, and like last year I was struck by the importance of diverse books in today’s world. This year I reviewed three books for MBCD, all with different flavours. Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess ( age 4 to 6) was about dreams and working hard to achieve those dreams. The Mystery Of The Naga At Night (age 6 to 9) was about Thai culture and respect for ancient customs. The Greatest Superpower ( YA) was about gender and the need for honesty in our personal life.

Diverse books give representation to experiences which are usually not mainstream, these include books on culture, gender, race, nationality etc. This opens up a world of imagination and exploration for children. Having a good range of diverse books to read means children are exposed to things they are not aware of, broadening their minds. The more a child reads diverse books, the more the child understands the world. The children learn that the world is a melting pot of cultures, religions, languages, identities, genders. They realise we are all unique, and yet, we are all tied together by our humanity. They realise that we need to celebrate our cultures, our identities, and yet, to keep empathy for others in our heart.

This is why we need diverse books, to bring up our children as good humans.

Keep reading if you want to know more about Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2021 (1/29/21) is in its 8th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators.

Eight years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues. Read about our Mission & History HERE.

MCBD 2021 is honored to be Supported by these Medallion Sponsors!

FOUNDER’S CIRCLE: Mia Wenjen (Prgamaticmom) and Valarie Budayr’s (Audreypress.com)

Platinum SponsorsLanguage Lizard Bilingual Books in 50+ LanguagesAuthor Deedee Cummings and Make A Way Media

Gold Sponsors: Barefoot BooksCandlewick PressCapstone,  Hoopoe Books,  KidLitTVPeachtree Publishing Company Inc.

Silver Sponsors: Charlotte RiggleConnecticut Association of School LibrariansAuthor Kimberly Gordon BiddlePack-N-Go Girls

Bronze Sponsors: Agatha Rodi and AMELIE is IMPRESSED!Barnes Brothers BooksCreate and Educate Solutions, LLCDreambuilt BooksDyesha and Triesha McCants/McCants SquaredRedfin Real EstateSnowflake StoriesStar Bright BooksTimTimTom Bilingual Personalized BooksAuthor Vivian KirkfieldWisdom Tales PressMy Well Read Child 

MCBD 2021 is honored to be Supported by these Author Sponsors!

Poster Artist: Nat Iwata

Authors: Author Afsaneh MoradianAuthor Alva Sachs & Three Wishes Publishing CompanyAuthor Angeliki Stamatopoulou-PedersenAuthor Anna OlswangerAuthor Casey Bell Author Claudine NordenAuthor Debbie DadeyAuthor Diana Huang & Intrepids,  Author Eugenia Chu & Brandon goes to BeijingGreen Kids Club,  Author Gwen JacksonAuthor Janet Balletta, Author Josh FunkAuthor Julia InserroKarter Johnson & Popcorn and BooksAuthor Kathleen Burkinshaw & The Last Cherry BlossomAuthor Keila DawsonMaya/Neel Adventures with Culture GrooveAuthor Mia WenjenMichael GenhartNancy Tupper LingAuthor Natalie MurrayNatalie McDonald-PerkinsAuthor Natasha YimAuthor Phe Lang and Me On The Page Publishing,Sandra Elaine ScottAuthor Shoumi Sen & From The Toddler DiariesSISSY GOES TINY by Rebecca Flansburg and B.A. NorrgardSusan Schaefer Bernardo & Illustrator Courtenay Fletcher,  Tales of the Five Enchanted MermaidsAuthor Theresa MackiewiczTonya Duncan and the Sophie Washington Book SeriesAuthor Toshia StelivanValerie Williams-Sanchez & The Cocoa Kids Collection Books©Author Vanessa Womack, MBAAuthor Veronica Appleton & the Journey to Appleville book series

MCBD 2021 is Honored to be Supported by our CoHosts and Global CoHosts!

MCBD 2021 is Honored to be Supported by these Media Partners!

Check out MCBD’s Multicultural Books for Kids Pinterest Board!

FREE RESOURCES from Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Diversity Book Lists & Activities for Teachers and Parents

Homeschool Diverse Kidlit Booklist & Activity Kit

FREE Teacher Classroom Activism and Activists Kit

FREE Teacher Classroom Empathy Kit

FREE Teacher Classroom Kindness Kit

FREE Teacher Classroom Physical and Developmental Challenges Kit

FREE Teacher Classroom Poverty Kit

Gallery of Our Free Posters

FREE Diversity Book for Classrooms Program

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

6 thoughts on “Why Do We Need Diverse Books?

    1. That’s very thoughtful. When I was in school, I could read anything. It’s really a good idea to read books of varied genres and that talk about different cultures. Thank you for sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

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