Today is International Children’s Book Day with celebrations being held at libraries around the world, as well as a “mini-festival” in Aukland, New Zealand (this year’s sponsoring country). Margaret Mahy, one of New Zealand’s most popular authors, has written an inspirational message to the children of the world about reading. You can link here to read her message which has been translated into four languages, including Maori!
In honor of International Children’s Book Day, this seems like the perfect time for the post I had planned about resources for finding multicultural children’s books.
Here are some websites that promote multicultural children’s books:
1) Papertigers.org: For those interested in children’s books from and about the Pacific Rim and South Asia. They have featured books, author interviews, and my favorite: links to suggested reading lists by country and topic.
2) A list of 50 Multicultural Books That Every Child Should Know can be found at the National Education Association (NEA) Website. This list is arranged by age and is merely a list of titles and authors, with no photos, descriptions or reviews. But, it could be a good starting place for a search for age-appropriate multicultural books.
3) One World, Many Children – A Children’s Booklist of Cultural Diversity was compiled by the Baltimore County Public Library. This list is sorted into two categories: books about Children Living In The United States, and Children Living In Other Countries. These lists give author, title, appropriate age, and a brief synopsis.
4) Another interesting link is Growing Up Around The World – Books as Passports to Global Understanding For Children in the United States. This bibliography complied by the Association for Library Service to Children is arranged in downloadable PDF format by continent of interest. I downloaded the “Africa” list and found 8 pages of book suggestions broken down by country. Each book reference contains title, author, grade level, and a brief description. In order to promote cultural accuracy, all the books on this list were written by authors who have lived a minimum of two years in each culture. If you want children’s stories specifically about Cameroon or Tanzania for example, start here!
5) Shen’s Blog (“Thoughts and News From the World of Multicultural Books”): A blog for Shen’s Books (see below). Has great links to “Multicultural Resources,” “Author and Illustrator Blogs,” “Author and Illustrator Websites,” and “Other Kidlit Blogs” (which I will be thoroughly checking out when I have time – I’ll link to any good ones!).
Some stores that specialize in multicultural books are:
Culture For Kids – Bilingual and multicultural books and videos.
Asia For Kids – Asian language and cultural materials.
Multicultural Kids – Books, videos, music, crafts, puzzles, dolls, gifts and educational materials. Also includes resources on related subjects such as self-esteem, adoption, differently-abled kids.
Brown Sugar & Spice – Primarily African-American, but some other multicultural books too, including biracial and adoption.
Skipping Stones – I have not read this one and only just found it via Shen’s Blog, but it looks interesting! It is an award-winning, nonprofit children’s magazine which is published bimonthly during the school year. It sounds so neat that I will simply quote the publisher’s description:
In Skipping Stones, you will find stories, articles and photos from all over the world: Native American folktales, photos by kids in India and the Ukraine, letters and drawings from South Africa and Lithuania, cartoons from China… Non-English writings are accompanied by English translations to encourage the learning of other languages. Each issue also contains international pen pals, book reviews, news, and a guide for parents and teachers. The guide offers creative activities and resources for making best use of Skipping Stones in your home or classroom.”
Plus, they accept original photos, artwork, and writing from all ages and in any language. If you have a creative child who is just dying to be published, this could be the magazine for you!
Our favorites: I can’t complete this very lengthy post without including a list of some of our favorite multicultural/international books. The last one is a real eye-opener: Material World: A Global Family Portrait, is geared more toward adults, but children will find it fascinating too, when read with an adult.