Happy Multicultural Children’s Book Day! I am thrilled to be involved in this event—now in its fifth year and, very happily for this world, growing each year. It’s so important for children to be able to see themselves in books. And it’s also important for us all to see the diversity in the world—to be knowledgeable about the truth of both our rich variety and history as well as our commonalities.
I volunteered to review a book for the event and was pleased to be selected to review Love Family written by Norah Barrett Cooper and illustrated by Joelle Nelson. Thank you to Loving Lion Books (www.LovingLionBooks.com) for not only sending me a copy of the book, but letting me personalize it.
Customizable books hold a dear place in my heart. When I was a child I had a personalized book with a giraffe protagonist whose name was my name spelled backwards. Knowing that book was made just for me made it extra special. This customization is different and even more personal in some ways, which I think will make it a cherished book by many families.
People who order a copy of Love Family can select the look of the girl protagonist, father, mother, and grandmother. The intent is to give families an opportunity to have a book with a family that racially resembles their own—something not easy to come by for families of color and particularly for multiracial families.
The web site is cleanly designed, and I found the personalizing process easy to do technically. Issues of identity bring up a lot of thoughts and emotions for many of us, me included, so that part of the choice-making was not as easy.
The kinds of questions that came up for me are really the very kinds of issues that point to why we need diverse books. I found myself bothered that the white girl has super light skin and blonde hair. This brought me right back to memories of the cultural messages that I, once a darker-haired more olive-skinned white girl, picked up on as a child: that golden hair and lily-white skin was some kind of ideal. This notion has particular poignancy for me today, as Multicultural Children’s Book Day falls on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. I bring this up to illustrate how these seemingly simple choices can bring up a lot of feelings and thoughts, especially when they relate to our personal experiences and history.
My son noticed that we couldn’t choose a boy and that almost all the girls and moms had long hair. And then I realized that there were no girls or women wearing headscarves like some of the girls and women who live in our neighborhood. The questions went on, but I’ll stop there. I am very sympathetic to the notion that Loving Lion Books can’t offer every possibility, especially with the quality watercolor illustrations that serve the book well. Of course four choices or even ten or twenty can’t cover everyone, but so many of these options for family combinations don’t exist at all in books. In that way, Love Family is greatly expanding the possibilities for kids to have a book where the family racially resembles their own.
[Edited to add that after posting this review, I learned that Loving Lion Books just added a two-father family today and plans to expand the options more.]
So I made the choices that I felt best about. (I found that I identified most with the brown-skinned girl with long, dark hair.) The actual selecting and ordering were easy and in a few weeks a beautiful book arrived.
The book describes a family gathering with elements that are typical of many family gatherings—the anticipation as food is being prepared, the excitement of people arriving, the joy of playing with a group of cousins. The text is lyrically written with many fun sensory details, such as “Even with the music turned up, I can hear laughter from the kitchen.” The watercolor illustrations are beautiful with bright colors and lots of details for kids to enjoy gazing at.
The daughter, father, mother, and grandmother were as I selected. The cousins are even more racially diverse and include boys as well.
This book will make an especially great gift for a multiracial family with a daughter, but anyone can choose among the sweetly rendered family members and receive a beautifully written and illustrated book about a family occasion that shows the diversity of our world. It’s easy to picture family members cuddled together reading it, and Love Family is the perfect name.
Below is information about Multicultural Children’s Book Day. May you discover wonderful diverse books today and every day!
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Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2018 (1/27/18) is in its 5th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents, and educators.
Current Sponsors: MCBD 2018 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board.
2018 MCBD Medallion Sponsors
PLATINUM:Scholastic Book Clubs
BRONZE: Barefoot Books, Carole P. Roman, Charlesbridge Publishing, Dr. Crystal Bowe, Gokul! World, Green Kids Club, Gwen Jackson, Jacqueline Woodson, Juan J. Guerra, Language Lizard, Lee & Low Books, RhymeTime Storybooks, Sanya Whittaker Gragg, TimTimTom Books, WaterBrook & Multnomah, Wisdom Tales Press
2018 Author Sponsors
Author Janet Balletta, Author Susan Bernardo, Author Carmen Bernier-Grand, Author Tasheba Berry-McLaren and Space2Launch, Bollywood Groove Books, Author Anne Broyles, Author Kathleen Burkinshaw, Author Eugenia Chu, Author Lesa Cline-Ransome, Author Medeia Cohan and Shade 7 Publishing, Desi Babies, Author Dani Dixon and Tumble Creek Press, Author Judy Dodge Cummings, Author D.G. Driver, Author Nicole Fenner and Sister Girl Publishing, Debbi Michiko Florence, Author Josh Funk, Author Maria Gianferrari, Author Daphnie Glenn, Globe Smart Kids, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, Author Quentin Holmes, Author Esther Iverem, Jennifer Joseph: Alphabet Oddities, Author Kizzie Jones, Author Faith L Justice , Author P.J. LaRue and MysticPrincesses.com, Author Karen Leggett Abouraya, Author Sylvia Liu, Author Sherri Maret, Author Melissa Martin Ph.D., Author Lesli Mitchell, Pinky Mukhi and We Are One, Author Miranda Paul, Author Carlotta Penn, Real Dads Read, Greg Ransom, Author Sandra L. Richards, RealMVPKids Author Andrea Scott, Alva Sachs and Three Wishes Publishing, Shelly Bean the Sports Queen, Author Sarah Stevenson, Author Gayle H. Swift Author Elsa Takaoka, Author Christine Taylor-Butler, Nicholette Thomas and MFL Publishing Author Andrea Y. Wang, Author Jane Whittingham Author Natasha Yim
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.
TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Scholastic Book Clubs: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/27/18 at 9:00pm.
Join the conversation and win one of 12-5 book bundles and one Grand Prize Book Bundle (12 books) that will be given away at the party! http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/twitter-party-great-conversations-fun-prizes-chance-readyourworld-1-27-18/
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.