Multicultural Children’s Book Day {Book Review}

I am delighted to be a participant in an online celebration, of sorts… a unique online event created by Mia Wenjen (Pragmatic Mom) and Valarie Budayr (Jump Into a Book/Audrey Press).


Imagine this book-worm’s delight to find a shiny, new, colorful copy of a book about Chinese-American culture in my mailbox, recently, free of charge. Say what?! Though I confess I’m prone to gush upon receipt of such gifts, I assure you that all of the opinions expressed here are, indeed, my own. I received a complimentary copy of Mei-Ling in China City to review for Multicultural Children’s Book Day.

Valarie and Mia‘s vision for Multicultural Children’s Book Day (tomorrow, January 27th)  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.

Mission: 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.

“MCCBD team hopes to spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of diversity in children’s literature. Our young readers need to see themselves within the pages of a book and experience other cultures, languages, traditions and religions within the pages of a book. We encourage readers, parents, teachers, caregivers and librarians to follow along the fun book reviews, author visits, event details, a multicultural children’s book linky and via our hashtag (#ReadYourWorld) on Twitter and other social media.”

So about Mei-Ling in China City


This is a wonderful addition to any home-library. As I’ve shared previously, I’m always on the hunt for Chinese themed literature with which to enrich my children’s world view. And while this might not exactly mirror my son’s heritage and history, it still has great relevance to him as a Chinese-American via adoption. Consider the implications, were he to never encounter a literary character who had similar physical features as his own… might he harbor resentment? Shame? Confusion? Anger? I sadly recognize this was a reality for many of my own peers, growing up.

Taking those sentiments a step further, I would decidedly declare that this historical account is valuable to children of ALL backgrounds and ancestry, as we seek to foster a global perspective and appreciation for all of God’s creation. As we were all crafted in His image, those from different cultures offer a unique vantage that reveals more of His character.

This true story (my favorite kind) provides a glimpse into the unique childhood of Mei Ling, an American girl born to Chinese immigrant parents. Set in California during the 30’s and 40’s, in an overwhelming immigrant enclave, Mei Ling is a loyal pen-pal who nourishes a dear friendship despite unfortunate circumstances.

With the onset of the second World War, she watches in confusion as her Japanese-American friend is sent to a stateside internment camp. Mei Ling’s faithful correspondence is recorded within the vibrant pages that also boast a complete Mandarin translation. While following along, readers are witness to snipets of traditional Chinese culture, including the annual observation of the Moon Festival (you’ll recall our family celebrated this holiday last fall), and the custom of female foot binding.

My girls found the information on foot binding especially fascinating and had to check a ruler to truly appreciate what a grown woman’s three inch foot would have looked like. Ouch!

The detailed author’s note, including historical photographs and facts, is a delightful addition that compliments her original prose.

This book is ideal for third to sixth grade students, and, as a home-educater to a second and fourth grader, I am especially grateful for this rich addition to our personal library. I highly recommend it.

I also appreciate the opportunity to participate in such a worthwhile, edifying event, by sharing the vision of Multicultural Children’s Book Day.

Co-hosts for Multicultural Children’s Book Day include: Africa to America, All Done Monkey, The Educators’ Spin on It, Growing Book by Book, InCultural Parent, Kid World Citizen, Mama Smiles, Multicultural Kid Blogs, and Sprout’s Bookshelf.

Sponsors are: Platinum Sponsors: Wisdom Tales Press, Daybreak Press Global Bookshop, Gold SponsorsSatya House,, Author Stephen Hodges and the Magic Poof, Silver Sponsors: Junior Library GuildCapstone Publishing, Lee and Low Books,  The Omnibus Publishing. Bronze Sponsors:Double Dutch Dolls, Bliss Group Books, Snuggle with Picture Books Publishing, Rainbow BooksAuthor FeliciaCapersChronicle Books, Muslim Writers Publishing, East West Discovery Press.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day is also partnering with First Book to offer a Virtual Book Drive that will help donate multicultural children’s books through their channels during the week of the event. We want to help get diversity books into the hands of kids who most need it and now we have a way to do it! The Virtual Book Drive is LIVE and can be found HERE.

They are also collaborating with Children’s Book Council to highlight wonderful diversity books and authors on an ongoing basis all year.

Be sure to check out all of the other great books featured, consider adding one or two to your collection, and remember to #readyourworld.



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