January 27th, 2016 is the third annual Children's Multicultural Book Day. I'm a school librarian, and finding diverse books has always been a challenge for me.
When I became a librarian twelve years ago, I was in Houston ISD. The school had a huge Spanish-speaking population. The principal showed me the library when I was first hired. "This will be one of your challenges," he told me, as he showed me a tiny shelf of books in Spanish. I searched and searched for books for our children at the school, but there just wasn't much available in Spanish. Disappointing.
Ten years ago, I was at an elementary school just south of the Texas Medical Center in Houston. A language survey was done at the school while I was librarian there, and we learned that over fifty different languages were spoken in the homes of students. I decided to try to find stories for our school from as many of the different home languages and cultures as I could. I searched and searched and managed to find books in only ten of the fifty languages. Disappointing.
Now I'm a librarian at a school in my hometown and I still struggle to find good books for children that reflect the many cultures of our world. Disappointing.
Happily, this year I served as a judge for the Cybils Fiction Picture Book Award. I am proud to say that three of our finalists reflect diverse cultures:
I was delighted to receive two new multicultural books to read for this event: Dev and Ollie: Kite Crazy and La Familia Cool: El tesoro mas valioso/The Most Valuable Treasure. I urge you to seek out diverse books like these and share them with your children, your students, and your friends.
Do you have a hard time finding diverse children's books? I'd love to hear your thoughts!
The Multicultural Children's Book Day team’s mission is to spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of diversity in children’s literature. Our young readers need to see themselves within the pages of a book and experience other cultures, languages, traditions and religions within the pages of a book. We encourage readers, parents, teachers, caregivers and librarians to follow along the fun book reviews, author visits, event details, a multicultural children’s book linky and via our hashtag (#ReadYourWorld) on Twitter and other social media.