Raising awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, and getting more of these of books into classrooms and libraries.
As an elementary school librarian, I am often asked by teachers and students for multicultural books; so I was pleased to have been offered the opportunity to review the following two books to celebrate Multicultural Children’s Book Day being held on January 27th.
Amina’ Voice by Hena Khan (to be released March 14, 2017)
Salaam Reads, Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
Ages 8-12 ISBN 978-1-4814-9206-5
Amina is a twelve-year old Pakistani-American girl trying to find her place in middle school. A talented singer, she lacks the courage to face the spotlight and show her real self to others. In addition to the typical middle school dramas of changing friendships and gossip, Amina also questions if she is a proper Muslim after her traditional uncle visits from Pakistan. After her local mosque is vandalized and the community rallies around to help, Amina finds her voice and overcomes her fear of sharing her gift with others.
Hena Khan seamlessly weaves the Pakistani and Muslim traditions into a heart-warming realistic story. Given the current situations this country faces, this is the perfect book to show just how much alike we all really are despite our different religions and cultures.
I put this book on my To Buy List immediately after reading it.
Cry of the Sea by DG Driver
Fire and Ice, an imprint of Melange Books
Ages 13-17 ISBN 978-1-61235-786-7
Mermaids. The mention on mermaids in the blurb and I immediately thought Fantasy. But this is no Fantasy. It is in fact a very realistic story of Juniper Sawfeather, a senior in high school whose parents are both well-known environmental activists. Their “tree hugger” status and her being half Chinook and ruins any chance of her winning the popularity contest. She plans to go to a college as far away from her parents as she can. When a tanker spills oil on a local beach, Juniper’s life dramatically changes when she finds three mermaids covered in oil. She, her parents, a good-looking college intern, and the popular clique from school become embroiled in a battle with the oil company to save the mermaids and the environment.
Regarding the multiculturalism in this book, I don’t think the Chinook heritage was fully developed within the story. While the characters had tribal origins, it seemed more of an added layer to the story, rather than an integral part.
DG Driver does offer an intriguing and fast-paced adventure in which the reader gets a realistic and timely portrayal of what could happen if a new species discovery impacted the oil industry. In particular, how the media can easily distort the truth for either side. I would recommend this book to any middle school or high school student interested in environmental thrillers.
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/17) is its fourth year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness on the ongoing need to include kid’s 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.
Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day holiday, the MCBD Team are on a mission to change all of that. This event has also proven to be an excellent way to compile a list of diverse children’s book titles and reviews for parents, grandparents, educators and librarians to use all year long.
Current Sponsors: MCBD 2017 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board. Platinum Sponsors include Scholastic, Barefoot Books and Broccoli. Other Medallion Level Sponsors include heavy-hitters like Author Carole P. Roman, Audrey Press, Candlewick Press, Fathers Incorporated, KidLitTV, Capstone Young Readers, Author Gayle Swift, Wisdom Tales Press, Lee& Low Books, The Pack-n-Go Girls, Live Oak Media, Author Charlotte Riggle, Chronicle Books and Pomello Books
Author Sponsor include: Karen Leggett Abouraya, Veronica Appleton, Susan Bernardo, Kathleen Burkinshaw, Maria Dismondy, D.G. Driver, Geoff Griffin, Savannah Hendricks, Stephen Hodges, Carmen Bernier-Grand,Vahid Imani, Gwen Jackson, Hena, Kahn, David Kelly, Mariana Llanos, Natasha Moulton-Levy, Teddy O’Malley, Stacy McAnulty, Cerece Murphy, Miranda Paul, Annette Pimentel, Greg Ransom, Sandra Richards, Elsa Takaoka, Graciela Tiscareño-Sato, Sarah Stevenson, Andrea Y. Wang