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Multicultural Children's Book Day

Celebrating the Importance of Diversity in Kids\’ Books | Multicultural Children\’s Book Day

Our mission is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these of books into classrooms and libraries.

That was the vow Multicultural Children’s Book Day (MCBD) co-founders Valarie Budayr, and Mia Wenjen, made in early 2012. Five years later this grassroots initiative to raise awareness on the lack of diversity in the kids’ books has exploded into a well-known national (and even global) event.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day | The Humble Beginnings

So what was it that pulled two multicultural moms together and inspired them to take the steps needed  to create a national movement? It was the discovery that, despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published contained diverse content. It’s no secret that books play a huge part in all children’s lives but just as important as having books available to kids is the ability for them to “see themselves” in the pages of the books they read.

Budayr, the daughter of parents who emigrated from Sweden and wife to an American/Lebanese man, along with Wenjen, a Korean/Japanese American, were both keenly aware that there simply weren’t enough representation of kids of color in children’s literature. And the books that did exist did not get the exposure they needed and deserved. Both Budayr and Wenjen put their collective heads together to find a creative (and effective) way to not only get multicultural books into the hands of readers, parents, teachers and librarians, but to also shine the spotlight on the exceptional authors that created these diverse YA and children’s books. The result was the ambitious (and much needed) online event known as Multicultural Children’s Book Day that occurs every January 27th.

“Our young readers need to see themselves within the pages of a book,” Wenjen shared. “They need to experience other cultures, languages, traditions and religions and they can do that within the pages of diverse picture books and chapter books. As our fourth Multicultural Children’s Book Day holiday approaches on January 27, 2017, we are thrilled to have a very well-established community of supporters. During our 2016 event, our initiative garnered over 96 million social media impressions during the days leading up to, and including, the actual celebration day on the 27th . The support and excitement surrounding this event is so special and continues to grow every year.”

During the months and weeks leading up to the online celebration, diverse YA and children\’s books pour into MCBD headquarter; donation from publishers and authors who\’s books and companies embrace the celebration of these multicultural books and support the mission of getting those books into the hands of young readers.

“Now more than ever, a message of hope, compassion, empathy and understanding is needed,” Budayr noted. “Now more than ever, children need to see themselves reflected in the pages of the books they read. Readers of all ages need to be able to “read their world” to both see themselves, and those are who different, whether by culture, religion, sexual orientation, special needs or ethnicity. Now more than ever, we need to come together as a nation of beautifully diverse people.”

With support of hundreds of book reviewers, dozens of sponsors, classrooms and other non-profit agencies like the Junior Library Guild and the Children’s Book Council, the MCBD team hopes to be able to continue to spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of diversity in children’s literature.

Multicultural Children\’s Book Day | Ways to Get Involved

Here are a few ways you can participate in Multicultural Children\’s Book Day:

1. {Teachers} Multicultural Children’s Book Day FREE Book for Your Classroom Campaign-If you know of a classroom or library that would like a free hardcover, library-approved, diversity children’s book. Teachers and librarians also have access to a very powerful Classroom Empathy Kit that includes a custom poster from award-winning author Juana Medina. This kit’s emphasis is on understanding and empathizing with immigrants and refugees and includes a robust booklist along with some excellent activity ideas. Get the free kit HERE.

  1. {Parents/Librarians/Teachers/KidLit Lovers} Free Book. MCBD offers a free diverse children’s book to parents, grandparents and educators that are willing to write a review and this year we are not limiting reviewers to just bloggers. Just share on your review on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or your blog. Details here.
  2. {Everyone} Be a MCBD 2018 Sponsor:Sponsorship is not only a great way to support this event; it is an excellent way to get an author’s name and books in front of thousands of readers. Sponsorship levels range from Platinum to Author Level and a Friends of MCCBD option is also available for those who would like to support the initiative with a monetary donation.
  3. {Everyone} Multicultural Children’s Book Day Free Resources, Booklists, and Extension Activities for Teachers and Parents. Enjoy this vast resource list of diverse children’s books categorized by culture, religion, sexual orientation, special needs or ethnicity.
  4. Connect with MCBD on social media and share, share, share! Their official hashtag is #ReadYourWorld

As our next MCBD event  approaches on January 27, 2018, I encourage everyone to follow along via the website and social media to win even more books, hear from authors and learn the importance of “windows and mirrors” in today’s children’s literature. Participants and supporters can also stay in the loop with the festivities via the event’s hashtag #ReadYourWorld on Twitter, Instagram and other social media.