Since I decided to make this a year of multicultural reading, it was thrilling to find out about Multicultural Children’s Book Day: Celebrating Diversity in Children’s Literature coming up on January 27, 2014.
The co-creators of this event are Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom and Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book/Audrey Press. They have done a wonderful job generating excitement and promoting the event. The two women have gained the support of several groups interested in creating diversity in children’s literature, including the sponsors Wisdom Tales Press, Lee & Low Books Chronicle Books, and Susan Daniel Fayad: Author of My Grandfather’s Masbaha.
After agreeing to participate, I found out I would be receiving a picture book from Barefoot Books’ World Cultures collection to review (they have been publishing multicultural children’s books for over 20 years!) I couldn’t wait to find out which one. Imagine my pleasure when I found out it was about a Chinese boy getting ready for a festival. What a perfect accompaniment to the books about the Chinese New Year already featured this week! The book:
Lin Yi’s Lantern by Brenda Williams and illustrated by Benjamin Lacombe is a fictional picture book about a young Chinese boy who is helping his family get ready for the autumn Moon Festival.
The first thing you notice when you open the book is the delicate gouache illustrations by Benjamin Lacombe. If you have never seen his work, try his website which is currently featuring a book trailer for his mind-blowing Madame Butterfly (also available at YouTube.)
Although the art catches you eye, what draws you in is Brenda Williams’ soft, yet compelling text. The story starts with Lin Yi’s mother reciting a list of items Lin Yi needs to buy at the market for the Moon Festival. Lin Yi repeats the list several times as he tries to navigate the perils of the market. He has to chose between his duties and his desire to have a red rabbit lantern for the Moon Festival. Should he buy the lantern, even though it would mean not buying one of the items on his mother’s list? If he doesn’t, will the lantern be gone?
The back matter includes “The Legend of the Moon Fairy,” which ties in with the story, instructions for making a Chinese lantern out of paper (see below) and a discussion of “Market Life in China.” All are excellent ways to extend and add depth to the story.
Lin Yi’s Lantern is a beautiful book with an important message. It is one to relish again and again, and would be a lovely addition to any library.
Barefoot Books has a free downloadable instructions for the activity to make a paper lantern on its Arts and Crafts Activity page for kids (scroll down)
Reading is Fundamental has several free downloadable educator and activity guides to accompany this book, as well.
Red Ted Art has more instructions for making paper lanterns and for attaching small ones to fairy lights.
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Barefoot Books (September 1, 2012)
Why should we read and promote multicultural books? The mission statement for the event explains:
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, Mia and Valarie are on a mission to change all of that. Their mission is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these types of books into classrooms and libraries. Another goal of this exciting event is create a compilation of books and favorite reads that will provide not only a new reading list for the winter, but also a way to expose brilliant books to families, teachers, and libraries.
And even more:
Bloggers participating in Multicultural Children’s Book Day: Celebrating Diversity in Children’s Literature are shown below. Most will be posting this week and all the posts will be linked up to the book day site on Monday.
2GirlsLostInaBook · 365 Days of Motherhood · A Bilingual Baby · A Simple Life, Really? · Africa to America · After School Smarty Pants · All Done Monkey · Andi’s Kids Books · Anita Brown Bag · Austin Gilkeson · Barbara Ann Mojica · Books My Kids Read · Bottom Shelf Books · Cats Eat Dogs · Chasing The Donkey · Children’s Book-a-Day Almanac · Children’s Books Heal · Church o Books · CitizenBeta · Crafty Moms Share · Discovering The World Through My Son’s Eyes · Early Words · Flowering Minds · Franticmommy · Gathering Books · GEO Librarian · Gladys Barbieri · Going in Circles · Growing Book by Book · iGame Mom · I’m Not The Nanny · InCulture Parent · Itsy Bitsy Mom ·Just Children’s Books– Kid World Citizen · Kristi’s Book Nook · Mama Lady Books · Mama Smiles · Mission Read · Mother Daughter Book Reviews · Mrs AOk · MrsTeeLoveLifeLaughter · Ms. Yingling Reads · Multicultural Kids Blog · One Sweet World · Open Wide The World · P is for Preschooler · Rapenzel Dreams · School4Boys · Sharon the Librarian · Spanish Playground · Sprout’s Bookshelf · Squishable Baby · Stanley and Katrina · Teach Mama · The Art of Home Education · The Brain Lair · The Educators’ Spin On It · The Family-Ship Experience · The Yellow Door Paperie · This Kid Reviews Books · Trishap’s Books · Unconventional Librarian · Vicki Arnold · We3Three · World for Learning