Celebrating Multicultural Children’s Literature

celebrating multicultural childrens literature

Today is Multicultural Children’s Book Day! Mia Wenjen of Pragmatic Mom and Valarie Budayr of Jump Into a Book got together to raise awareness about this day, and I am so glad they did! Look at the pictures in the books on your local library shelves, and you will likely find that there is very little diversity! One of my favorite things about being an American is that people move here from all over the world – and most US citizens can trace their heritage back to at least one country outside of the United States. Just as growing up around the world enriched my life, my children’s lives are enriched by going to a school here in California where their classmates come from all over the world and speak all sorts of different languages. Multicultural children’s books can help my kids understand cultures and traditions that are different from our own; they are also a lot of fun to read! In honor of Multicultural Children’s Book Day, I’m sharing a few of our favorite multicultural books here today:

Princess Grace by Mary Hoffman is a favorite of Emma’s – and I love that there are many ways to be a princess. This book is part of a series, and we have enjoyed all of the ones we have read, Amazing Grace being another favorite.

Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters is an African Tale told by John Steptoe that my mother picked up at a book sale when I was a child. I loved this tale of outward and inward beauty as a child, and was thrilled to find a copy for our library.

Allen Say’s Tree of Cranes captures perfectly the caught between worlds aspect of growing up in a multicultural family – and that that between-worlds space can be a beautiful place. I found this story through Erica’s delightful What Do We Do All Day? blog – one of my favorite sources of picture book recommendations along with Mia’s blog. The book takes place at Christmas time, but I think it’s a great read any time of year.

Whoever You Are, written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Leslie Staub (also available in Spanish), is the best diversity-themed book I’ve seen. Emma loved this book so much when she was two that she learned to recite it from memory. I love the book’s message that, while we may be different from one another in many ways, we are all the same where it really matters: in joy, love, pain, tears, smiles, and hearts.

Here are some great recommendations from other sites, if you are looking to build your library:

What are your favorite multicultural books for kids?

MaryAnne lives in Silicon Valley with her Stanford professor husband Mike and their four children. She writes about parenting through education, creativity, and play. Mama Smiles - Joyful Parenting is a space to share crafts, hands on learning activities, and family outings that enrich lives and bring families together.

23 thoughts on “Celebrating Multicultural Children’s Literature”

  1. I’m so behind on my blog reading these days that I didn’t even know this was happening or I would have totally linked up. OH well :) Excited to check these out!

  2. Elisa | blissfulE

    I haven’t read any of these, but from your descriptions of their themes, they sound absolutely wonderful!

  3. Thank you so much MaryAnne for joining us for Multicultural Children’s Book Day. I added this post to our linky and tweeted and pinned it! We really appreciate your support and your list of great book recommendations! The one message we have heard over and over again is where to find books! I do think these books with diversity themes need to be highlighted over and over again so that kids who need them can find them! Thank you again!!!

    1. Thank you, Mia! I agree that this is a theme that needs to be highlighted, and I love the way you and Valarie brought bloggers together to do just that this year!

  4. I really like all your recommendations but specifically the last 2. And I totally agree with- **I love the book’s message that, while we may be different from one another in many ways, we are all the same where it really matters: in joy, love, pain, tears, smiles, and hearts.**

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