Diversity in Children’s Literature: Celebrating Multicultural Children’s Book Day!

a rectangular poster with 12 images of children from different ethnicities and religions.  It is the official poster for the 2021 Multicultural Children's Book Day.

You know that this is one of my absolute favorite celebrations of the year! Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2021 is upon us. I cannot wait to share the books that I reviewed this year!

This is the third year that I have been honored to receive books by authors that see the value of children seeing themselves in texts. I am deeply touched to have a community that values this as much as I value it; especially as a mom and as a teacher. Just look at this year’s poster. Do you see the beauty that representation offers us all?! I love it! The poster was created by illustrator, Nat Iwata.

Just a Few Formalities

For this process, I was gifted three diverse books by the authors of each to review. I will share feedback on two of the books with you. Both of the books that I reviewed were published by Barnes Brothers Books, LLC. I am able to share my feedback in any format that I choose. Leaving a review for the author on sites that sell books is another way that I am allowed to contribute. Yes, let’s get the word out about books that celebrate the many shades of us!

Writing is one of my loves and gifts, so I am sharing my thoughts with you on each book here. Thank you so much for stopping by my home away from home and for reading more about these diverse books. Keep reading to see my reviews!

An image of me, an African American woman holding a book.  I am wearing glasses that are round with a purple-is red trim, large silver hoop earrings, a purple cardigan, and a very bright smile.  In my left hand is the book, My Family's Great Smoky Mountains Adventure.
This is the amazing, family-fun-filled book that Jeremiah J. Barnes authored.

We Need More Non-Fiction Texts

Young author, Jeremiah J. Barnes, has created a delightful text that is kid-friendly, interesting, and inspiring! I think that almost every young student will realize that they have the ability to be an author just like Jeremiah. His book is called My Family’s Great Smoky Mountains Adventure. I have to say, this book is absolutely adorable. It’s family-friendly, too.

Jeremiah grabs us by the hand and leads the way through his family’s real-life adventure in the outdoors. Full of family photos that document each leg of the journey, this book shares the ins and outs and in-betweens of traveling with your family. Jeremiah, his dad, mom, and his twin brother, James embark on a trip that takes them cross-country from Indiana to Tennessee.

Doesn’t that sound like a special trip? Can you remember any family trips that you took when you were little? The only one that I can recall was when we drove in our family van from South Florida to Dallas, Texas. That was the only trip that we took together while my dad was still alive.

I was only five but I remember certain parts of that trip vividly. I hope that you take as many (even more) pictures as Jeremiah did in his book. Memories really are priceless, and photographs are beautiful to look back at to recall someone’s smile or to see their personality.

This is a Book That You Want to Own!

Buy this book! Get one for your class library, your school library, and buy a copy for each of your student’s for the holidays or as an end-of-the-year gift. Honestly, use this book to teach children about sharing their stories. Show them that their voices genuinely do matter. Let them know that they are not too young to be an author. Jeremiah J. Barnes is a great writer!! He captured the adventure, the action, and provided a sense of feelings that jump off of the pages at you. I felt like I was traveling with them.

The story is also a great demonstration of how much children can do with a little support and freedom of expression. I am so appreciative of Jeremiah’s parents giving him the opportunity to share his talents with each of us. Did I tell you that he took his own photographs and captioned them, too? The captions really give a good insight into how the family felt during different activities. Just in case you couldn’t tell, I really loved this book!

Using This Text for Instruction

Gracious! The list for how you could incorporate this book into your classroom instruction is endless.

Just to name a few:

  • Non-Fiction texts
  • Text features
  • voice
  • setting
  • photographs (helping to tell the story)
  • captions
  • dialogue
  • author’s purpose
  • It’s a very versatile text that your students will enjoy.

Are you ready for Book Review #2? I knew that you would be! The great stories for our children just keep rolling in.

Naturalistas Unite

You can see why I was so excited to read Dear Curly Hair written by Melodee Barnes and illustrated by Anais Balbas.

Dear Curly Hair is a book that so many of us can relate to. At times, our hair of birth is not always the hair that we really want. Other times, we love our hair. That is until… we see someone else’s really beautiful straight hair when our’s is curly. We see someone else’s gorgeously curly hair when our hair is straight. Or, until someone makes a comment that makes us question the love that we had felt for our locks.

Meet Maya. Maya has beautiful hair that her mother constantly styles in different ways. Her hairstyles are the envy of her friends, and Maya’s teacher notices and compliments her hairstyles with each change. Maya is a Naturalista, her hair is in its natural state and does not have any chemicals to change its texture in it.

All is well until Maya sees a commercial of little girls that have just been primped and propped with a relaxer that turns their curly hair into silky, straight strands. Once confident and proud, Maya, becomes sulky and unsure of herself and her naturally curly hair. I hope that you will read the story to find out if Maya recovers from her time of self-doubt.

Every Little Black Girl Should Read This Book

It is an enjoyable story that I could really relate to. Saturday mornings were “hair day” in my house when I was a little girl, too. My mom would have me wash my hair and plait it up on Friday nights- every Friday night. Then, first thing on Saturday morning, I would be sitting in a chair next to the stove. The straightening comb would be on the stove heating up and a jar of Vaseline would be sitting on the table next to me. Oh my goodness! Those memories are good memories.

Every little Black girl should have this book within their reach! The one thing that I would change about the book is the use of such dark colors in the illustrations. I felt that it was the one thing that detracted from the book. Deep, watercolor hues of purple, blue, green, and brown were used on almost every page. It gave the book a very heavy, almost depressing feel. I’m not sure whose idea or decision that was. But, I do think that it may hinder the potential that the book has. Other than the choice of color tones, the illustrations are really good. Anai’s Balba captured the hairstyles and hair textures well.

Using This Text for Instruction

This text would work great in your structured ELA lessons. Think of how fun a compare and contrast text between this book and another book on hair. One of my other favorite books about little African American girls and their relationship with their hair is Hair Love by Matthew Cherry! You can compare and contrast the illustrations, characters, mood, dialogue, and setting. Finding the author’s purpose would be an additional activity that would allow you to share great literature with your students while incorporating skills and standards that you also need to teach.

Just a Little Note

Remember:

a) Read-alouds just for the purpose of sharing a great story is always a fabulous choice for your students.

(b) If you are using the text to teach ELA standards, make sure that the first read-through is (teacher) question free so that students have the opportunity to become familiar with the story. This will help familiarize students with the story so that they are better equipped to manipulate the information and apply the skill(s) later during your mini-lessons.

I hope that you will share these diverse books with your students/children!

Many thanks to the authors, illustrators, and publishing companies that help to bring stories to light that provide windows and mirrors for children of every hue to look into or through.

Add These Amazing Books to Your Home or School Library

Dear Curly Hair by Melody Barnes, illustrated by Anais Balbas

My Family’s Great Smoky Mountains Adventure by Jeremiah J. Barnes, photographs by James, Jeremiah, Jermaine, and Shawnta Barnes

The links provided are my Amazon Affiliate links. I will receive compensation for purchases made via my links. The cost of purchase will not increase for you if you use these links.


Multicultural Children’s Book Day: Join the Celebration

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!

Join the Twitter Party. Register here!

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A Black female standing in front of three black boxes that are stacked on top of each other. I am wearing a blue, denim dress that is tied at the waist. My hair is in long braids.

Hi, I'm Tania!

I help creative and time-conscious teachers plan student-centered lessons that interest and motivate student learning so that lesson planning takes less time and is actually enjoyable! 

Learn more about me and how I can help you here.

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