Why We Need More Multicultural Children’s Books

Language Lizard is a Platinum Sponsor of Multicultural Children’s Book Day (MCBD) on January 31, 2020. We are big supporters of their mission to raise awareness about the need for more children’s books that celebrate diversity. To date, MCBD has donated over 7,000 diverse children’s books to schools, libraries and families.

Books as “Mirrors & Windows”

We have written before about multicultural games, crafts and activities that can make learning about cultures and languages fun. Let’s not forget the magic that can be found in a great children’s book featuring characters as diverse as the world we live in.

Books are like windows because they allow kids to immerse themselves in places or lives very different than their own. They help them to understand another person’s life, thoughts, and experiences.

By simply turning a page, children can expand their appreciation of diverse backgrounds and cultures. Perhaps most importantly, it lessens the sense of “otherness,” and increases compassion and empathy. These are all building blocks to a world that embraces diversity.

Books are like mirrors because they give us an opportunity to understand ourselves better. By reading about characters we relate to who are going through similar experiences, we are also exploring our own feelings and behavior. What does this person’s story teach me about my own life?

The beauty of reading more multicultural children’s stories is that the “mirror” and “window” become one and the same. By becoming familiar with the life of the “other,” kids eventually come to realize that there is no such thing. Instead, they see that we are all much more alike than different.

Progress Made, But Still a Long Way to Go

According to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, there has been a substantial increase in the number of children’s books that feature non-white main characters. While in 2013 that number was just 10%, it went up to 31% in 2017. The call for more multicultural children’s books is being heard. 

However, that rising number masks the fact that only 7% of children’s books in the US were written by people of color in 2017, a phenomenon known as the “publishing diversity gap.” 
The relatively low number of multicultural children’s books being published each year is even more pronounced when you consider that more than half of students in the US identify as a race other than white. There is an urgent need to better support students of color by ensuring they have access to a wealth of books that feature characters and stories that explore and celebrate their identities.

Ways to Support Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Celebrate Multicultural Children’s Book Day on January 31, 2020, and raise awareness of the need for more multicultural books in our schools and libraries.

There are many ways you can show your support of MCBD. Use #ReadYourWorld on social media, and tell us why multicultural children’s books are important to you, and encourage others to spread the word. 

You can also participate in MCBD’s eBook fundraiser, where 100% of the proceeds are used to gift multicultural books to classroom libraries. 

Also available for download are a free Classroom Physical and Developmental Challenges Kit to help children understand and celebrate our differences, and a Classroom Poverty Kit that helps young readers understand poverty in America. 

Comment below and tell us about your favorite multicultural children’s books!

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