Thursday, January 30, 2020

Multicultural Children's Book Day 2020 is Here!

Each year for Multicultural Children's Book Day (MCBD), I sign-up to be a book reviewer, reading and providing my feedback about a new title, chosen for me by the event organizers. It is an activity I enjoy and one to which I look forward as it allows me to remain deeply connected to the genre and to build my personal knowledge of children’s books and reading trends. So much so, that my reviewer activities now extend beyond this one-day reading holiday. I now also write reviews for small, independent publishers of children's books and am an Author Sponsor for MCBD.
     This year, Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020 (1/31/20) is in its 7th 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. Seven 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.
     Since 2015 when I wrote my first review, I have been keenly conscious of the shifts and stagnation in the type of content available for our youngest readers. The effects of which I first wrote about in The Cocoa Kids Collection© Thesis: “Revaluing Children of Color’s Lives Through Children’s Literature.” That’s why I felt moved to vocalize an observation I have made about the cross-section of books I have been asked to review this season. There have been three: Katie Comma, by B.B. Swann, illustrated by Maja Anderson; Swashbarklers of the Sea by author, illustrator Cynthia Kremsner; and the single title for MCBD, The Escape of Robert Smalls: A Daring Voyage Out of Slavery, by Jehan Jones-Radgowski, and illustrated by Poppy Kang.
     Each of these books was an enjoyable read that I feel will contribute to wide reading options available to emergent readers. They are each an achievement of which their author should be proud. Also, the composite of titles and themes is worth note inasmuch as they reflect the unrelenting reality of kids’ books, their content, and characters. That is: fantasy characters dominate, as in Katie; animals too often replace humans, as in Swashbarklers, and in diversity narratives, stories about Black Americans are disproportionately grounded and framed in slavery. Granted, I could as easily have received a composite of books that reflected a different reality. However, in the random sample that chose me, the titles and content I receive reflect an unchanging truth that statistics uphold. It’s also why I continue to do my part to raise awareness and effect change through my study of literacy and writing of books and prose. 
     It is my hope that soon we will begin to see equal levels of representation in our society, and that new avenues for original expression will continue to grow and transform what Nancy Larrick (1965) once called "the all-white world" of children's books. Fresh narratives will feature stories by and about blacks and people of color living full, rich lives without being substituted by fantasy characters or human-like animals. Stories will be grounded in contemporary pop-culture as well as in an imagined future. This, I feel, is how we as a reading community and national culture will grow. That's why it is my great pleasure to feature and support new voices. A look at the authors in the two books Valerie's Vignettes features in this post shows that their lives are far from ordinary. 
     Jones-Radgowski’s life in foreign service echos a love of adventure that her book about legendary Robert Smalls describes. And the story and characters in Moore-Fields' Pit Fighters are based on the events and people in his life. It’s also why I have decided to include in this edition and those to come, Question & Answer (Q&A) author interviews of the people behind the books. These up-and-coming authors- of-color work touch the pulse of trends in the writing community. So, I invite you to check out these two, new works. Moreover, be sure to come back next month to meet another author and to read another insightful Q&A.


MCBD 2020 is honored to have Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, and the following sponsors on board.


Author Sponsors: Jerry CraftA.R. Bey and Adventures in BoogielandEugina Chu & Brandon goes to BeijingKenneth Braswell & Fathers IncorporatedMaritza M. Mejia & Luz del mes_MejiaKathleen Burkinshaw & The Last Cherry BlossomSISSY GOES TINY by Rebecca Flansburg and B.A. NorrgardJosh Funk and HOW TO CODE A ROLLERCOASTERMaya/Neel Adventures with Culture GrooveLauren RanalliThe Little Green Monster: Cancer Magic! By Dr. Sharon ChappellPhe Lang and Me On The PageAfsaneh Moradian and Jamie is Jamie,TUMBLE CREEK PRESSNancy Tupper LingAuthor Gwen JacksonAngeliki Pedersen & The Secrets Hidden Beneath the Palm TreeAuthor Kimberly Gordon BiddleBEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 by Mia WenjenSusan Schaefer Bernardo & Illustrator Courtenay Fletcher (Founders of Inner Flower Child Books)Ann Morris & Do It Again!/¡Otra Vez!, Janet Balletta and Mermaids on a Mission to Save the OceanEvelyn Sanchez-Toledo & Bruna Bailando por el Mundo\ Dancing Around the WorldShoumi Sen & From The Toddler DiariesSarah Jamila StevensonTonya Duncan and the Sophie Washington Book SeriesTeresa Robeson & The Queen of Physics, Nadishka Aloysius and Roo The Little Red TukTukGirlfriends Book Club Baltimore & Stories by the Girlfriends Book ClubFinding My Way Books, Diana Huang & IntrepidsFive Enchanted MermaidsElizabeth Godley and Ribbon’s Traveling CastleAnna Olswanger and GreenhornDanielle Wallace & My Big Brother Troy, Jocelyn Francisco and Little Yellow JeepneyMariana Llanos & Kutu, the Tiny Inca Princess/La Ă‘usta DiminutaSara Arnold & The Big Buna BashRoddie Simmons & Race 2 RioDuEwa Frazier & Alice’s Musical DebutVeronica Appleton & the Journey to Appleville book series Green Kids Club, IncSuper Platinum Make A Way Media/ Deirdre “DeeDee” Cummings, Platinum Language LizardPack-N-Go GirlsGold Audrey PressLerner Publishing GroupKidLit TVABDO BOOKS: A Family of Educational PublishersPragmaticMom & Sumo JoCandlewick PressSilver Author Charlotte RiggleCapstone PublishingGuba PublishingMelissa Munro Boyd & B is for BreatheBronze Author Carole P. RomanSnowflake Stories/Jill BarlettiVivian Kirkfield & Making Their Voices HeardBarnes Brothers BooksTimTimTomWisdom Tales PressLee & Low Books, Charlesbridge PublishingBarefoot Books Talegari Tales   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 HERECo-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts A Crafty ArabAfsaneh MoradianAgatha Rodi BooksAll Done MonkeyBarefoot Mommy, Bethany Edward & Biracial BookwormsMichelle Goetzl & Books My Kids ReadCrafty Moms ShareColours of UsDiscovering the World Through My Son’s EyesEducators Spin on itShauna Hibbitts-creator of eNannylinkGrowing Book by BookHere Wee ReadJoel Leonidas & Descendant of Poseidon Reads {Philippines}Imagination SoupKid World CitizenKristi’s Book NookThe LogonautsMama SmilesMiss Panda ChineseMulticultural Kid BlogsSerge Smagarinsky {Australia}Shoumi SenJennifer Brunk & Spanish PlaygroundKatie Meadows and Youth Lit Reviews

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