Why Multicultural Children’s Books Are so Important, with Mia Wenjen (TGMS28)

Reading to your kids is a fantastic way to teach your kids about anything. It only follows then that multicultural children’s books would be an excellent way to teach your children about other cultures. But despite the number of mixed-race families and immigrants increasingly growing in the United States, the number of multicultural books being published is not growing. Four years ago, Mia Wenjen and Valarie Budayr (who I interviewed in Episode 17) decided that needed to change. So they founded a holiday, and made an effort to bring the need for diverse books to the forefront of the publishing industry. The mission of Multicultural Children’s Book Day (the holiday they started) is:

To not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these of books into classrooms and libraries.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day has grown to a massive event; last year’s day resulted in 96 million social media shares! Woah! (I guess some of us ARE interested in having diverse books!)

In this episode, I chat with Mia Wenjen, one of the founders about why it’s so important for people to see themselves in the pages of books and to see people different from themselves in the pages of books.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day is January 27th. Follow the event on social media at #ReadYourWorld.

Here are the show notes: 

Mia Wenjen is a mom of three, an entreprenuer, and the co-founder of Multicultural Children’s Book Day. She blogs at Pragmatic Mom. Her co-founder, Valarie Budayr, blogs at Jump into a Book.

Books mentioned:

Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club

Jacqueline Woodson, Brown Girl Dreaming

Debbi Michiko Florence, Jasmine Toguchi series

Uegaki, Suki’s Kimono

Adam Gidwitz, The Inquisitor’s Tale

Wisdom Tales Press

Laurie Halse Anderson

Kwame Alexander, Crossover

Great quotes from the show: 

“It is so important for EVERYONE to read about things that we are not familiar with.”

“Maybe the last barrier that I see that my kids face is understanding special needs.”

“Isn’t it even more powerful to read books about people and places that we don’t have access to?”

“If we are to overcome racism and other prejudices as a country, our best hope is to expose children…and let them see the whole vast world that they may not see in their communities.”

“What kind of training of education do these kids have about racism…? It’s as if racism doesn’t exist at all, if you look at our school curriculum from kindergarten through high school.”

Take a look at the multiple book lists Mia and Valarie have curated. Here’s one mentioned in the show: Diversity is in KidLit Presented as Everyday: This is a book list of books that show diverse characters, cultures, or celebrations, without making those things the theme of the book.

Snag the book for FREE on January 27th, and purchase it after that: Read Your World, A Guide to Multicultural Children’s Books for Parents and Educators, edited by Mia Wenjen

Find Mia online: 

Pragmatic Mom | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Multicultural Children’s Book Day | Facebook 

FEATURED RESOURCE:

This week’s featured resource is Barefoot Books. A multicultural book publishing company that’s dedicated to promoting diversity and understanding. The Barefoot Book of Children is a beautiful way to introduce your children to people around the globe and to what it means to accept everyone. Check out all their books at Barefoot Books.

SPONSOR:

This episode is sponsored by Around the World Stories.

 

The Global Mom Show is sponsored by Around the World Stories. These audio stories capture the adventures of kids from around the world and will introduce your kids to different countries and cultures, as they travel with the characters to new parts of the world. Each story is about 25-30 minutes long, and right now the authors are traveling around Europe with their children gathering information to write more stories. They take place in Denmark, Ireland, The Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Spain. You can get a story a week for $9.95 a month, or get a membership for a year’s worth of weekly stories for $99. Download the stories and take them in the car or play them at home or from your phone. This is a great and easy way to introduce your children to other cultures. Head to theglobalmom.com/stories to give them a try.

Have you joined my email list? If you do, I’ll send you my guide: 10 Ways To Make Your Home More Global–No Matter Where You Live.  Just text GLOBALMOM to 444999.

Thanks for listening today, Have a great week, and remember, you can live a global life wherever you are, and teach your kids to do the same.

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Mary Grace Otis
Mary Grace is a wife, a mom of three boys, a former expat and development worker, and a freelance writer for nonprofits and businesses. She's lived in Germany and India, and traveled lots of places besides that, but she currently makes her home in the U.S., where one of her goals is to stay connected with a global view of life. She's the host of The Global Mom Show Podcast and the founder of The Global Mom website.

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