Today is the Nonfiction Picture Book linkup hosted by KidLitFrenzy. It is also a week of celebrating Multicultural Children’s Book Day. So I wanted to put together a list of some of my favorite nonfiction picture books that touch on multicultural topics. Be sure to check back on Saturday, January 27th when the link-up for all of the reviews for MCBD goes live on this site as well as all of the co-hosts.
You should also be sure to check out Alyson’s post this week on KidLitFrenzy as she has written about a bunch of brand new nonfiction titles that I haven’t manage to see yet which, many that happen to also be multicultural.
I started blogging as part of Multicultural Children’s Book Day when it started 5 years ago. For the purpose of MCBD, a multicultural book is:
- Books that contain characters of color, as well as characters that represent a minority point of view.
- Books that share ideas, stories, and information about cultures, race, religion, language, and traditions.
- Books that embrace our world, and offer children new ways to connect to a diverse and richer world.
These books are vitally important to everyone so that we can see ourselves represented and so that we can gain empathy about what others might be experiencing. It is rather hard to walk in someone else’s shoes, but reading stories that touch on experiences outside of our own helps us grow. Now more than ever, we need to understand the people around us and love people for the things that we have in common as well as what makes us all special and unique.
Every year children learn about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and all of the work that people did to end segregation. Many picture books explain the history beautifully. But in The Youngest Marcher, by Cynthia Levinson, those issues are seen from the eyes of a child. This is the true story of Audrey Faye Hendricks who knew first hand that certain things “were for white folks,” but she also knew that she “intended to go places and do things like anybody else.” She even went to jail as a child for participating in a Children’s March for rights in 1963. This is a great book that shows that children have lots of power to make a difference in this world.
* For another great looking book on this subject, Let the Children March was published on January 2nd that also covers the Children’s March for Rights.
The first lines in this book say this better than I could: “If you’ve ever felt different,/if you’ve ever been low,/if you don’t quite fit in,/there’s a name you should know.” Julia Finley Mosca captured the world of Temple Grandin in The Girl Who Thought in Pictures. Temple Grandin was diagnosed with Autism in 1950, a time when a diagnosis like that often meant being institutionalized. Fortunately, her parents had other ideas and instead shipped her off to live with an aunt on a farm where she blossomed. She had intense bonds with animals and realized that they shared many similarities and that animals have emotions that we need to consider. Temple Grandin has made it her life’s work to treat animals with compassion and to educate people about autism. This book is amazing because it let’s young readers know that it is okay to be different, it is okay for your brain to work in a different way, because your differences could one day help others.
One story I come back to over and over again when thinking about multicultural stories is the wonderful book Separate is Never Equal. I reviewed this book back in 2015, but in short, it deals with the issue in California schools where they segregated the Hispanic community. The Mendez trial covered in this book actually paved the way for the historic Brown v. Board of Education trial that so many of us think of when considering school segregation. This book should not be missed.
Many families these days are inter-racial or interfaith, but we forget that it wasn’t that long ago that inter-racial families were illegal. That’s why Selina Alko’s The Case for Loving is such an important book. I received a copy of this book for the 2017 Multicultural Children’s Book Day and my complete review is here. The book beautifully covers the story Mildred and Richard Loving who wound up bringing their battle to be legally married to the Supreme Court. A powerful testament to the power of love and the value in standing up for things you believe in.
For little girls, like my younger daughter, who love the world of fashion, an important book is Fancy Party Gowns, by Deborah Blumenthal. This book is the amazing story of Ann Cole Lowe who, through fierce determination, became more than just a seamstress, but a true fashion designer. She even designed Jacqueline Bouvier’s wedding dress for the day she married John F. Kennedy.
Another favorite of mine, probably because it is so incredibly eye opening, is Ruth and the Green Book. This book tells us of a young girl and her family’s drive from Chicago to Alabama. Along the way, they struggled to find places that were welcoming to African-Americans. When they get as far as Tennessee, someone tells them about the Negro Motorist Green Book, which listed places that black people would be welcome. It is still shocking to me that there was a time in our history where this was necessary, but it is very important for us to remember.
One favorite of both of my girls is the marvelous biography of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I Dissent, by Debbie Levy. The book explains how a young Jewish girl helped change our country for the better by arguing for the things that she believed in, one disagreement at a time. It is eye-opening from a multicultural perspective because it not only looks at her role as a woman at a time where girls were taught to only be housewives, but it shows how the prejudices she faced due to her religion made her more aware of prejudices towards others for different reasons.
In a similar vein, Jonah Winter wrote the marvelous Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx. First off, this book is amazing because it is written in both Spanish and English. Second, Sonia Sotomayor made history as the first Latino, male or female, to be named to the Supreme Court, so her story definitely needs to be shouted from the rooftops. Finally, Winter shows how Sotomayor overcame poverty, juvenile diabetes, and the death of her father when she was a child to rise up and succeed. Her determination and drive made an incredibly difference and work as an inspiration to children.
So this is just a small sampling of great nonfiction titles with a multicultural theme. Simply a few personal favorites to highlight for Multicultural Children’s Book Day. You can see all of my nonfiction picture book reviews with this tag and my multicultural reviews with this tag.
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (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.