For years I’ve participated in Multicultural Children’s Book Day. Some years I’ve been an author sponsor, and other years I’ve also been a co-host. This event not only highlights important diverse books, but has also created a community of thousands of authors, educators, and caregivers.
We come together each year to celebrate our love of books and the children we share them with as well as our commitment to filling our local, classroom, and personal libraries with children’s books that represent children who don’t traditionally have their stories told.
The way MCBD works is that folks like you volunteer to review books and, in exchange, you receive books you get to keep for free. It’s a wonderful opportunity to get to know new authors and share stories with the children in your life.
I participate in MCBD each year to share the Jamie is Jamie series with reviewers. This year participants are reviewing Jamie’s Class Has Something to Say: A Book About Sharing with Grown Ups.
However, I also participate as a reviewer. I was given two books to review which highlight the importance of inclusion in very different ways.
The first book is Chocolate Milk, Por Favor! Celebrating Diversity with Empathy (by Maria Dismondy, illustrated by Donna Farrell). The story centers on Johnny who isn’t excited about the new child joining the class. Gabe doesn’t speak English and Johnny doesn’t want anything to do with him. Johnny learns that by separating himself from Gabe because of their differences, he is the one left out.
The story shows how much richer our lives are when we embrace new friends who are different from us and have a lot to share with us. The discussion questions at the beginning of the book help make the story a tool for important conversations to have with children.
The second book is Hide and Shh! A Not-So-Sneaky Sister Story About Inclusion (by Christina Dendy and Illustrated by Nathalia Takeyama). This is a sweet story about a younger sister with Downs Syndrome wanting to join in as her older sister is playing spies with some friends.
The story shows how the older sister navigates frustration when her sister interrupts the game because she doesn’t yet understand how to play. This is a fun story about play and all of the learning involved. It’s a wonderful way to introduce some words in sign language to young children and serves as a great example for how to be patient and inclusive when playing with friends who have DS.
The book includes suggestions for before reading, during reading, and after reading, making this a wonderful addition to a classroom library and a great choice to read to a group of children.
Afsaneh has been teaching for over 15 years from preschool to graduate school, and is often invited to give teacher training workshops and speak at educational conferences. Her vast experience in working with different ages, academic levels, and cultures has given her the ability to work with anyone and help them achieve their learning goals. She is also the author of Jamie is Jamie.