When children see themselves and their experiences reflected in popular culture, particularly in literature, it matters. It promotes a stronger connection to the content and fosters love and appreciation where there might not otherwise be.
Dr. Lee Buddy, associate professor at Grand Canyon University, explains, “We often underestimate the profound impact these images can have on a child’s world view. A child cannot achieve what (he or she) does not see.”
However, children’s literature still lacks a diversity that could benefit kids and their parents.
According to an analysis from the Cooperative Children’s Center at the University of Wisconsin, 8.4 percent of the 3,400 children’s books published in 2016 had an African American main character; 5 percent had a Latino protagonist; and 1.6 percent had a Native American main character.
Just Like Me Books, a local publishing company that specializes in stories that promote characters of color, along with several area independent authors and the Cleveland Public Library, are working together to close the divide with “Multicultural Children’s Book Day” on Saturday, Jan. 27.
The online event raises awareness for kids’ books that celebrate diversity and works to get more of these books in the hands of children. Classrooms and libraries plan activities for children that celebrate these books and then post pictures of the event on social media with the hashtag #ReadYourWorld.
Children can meet area authors, share books with characters that look like them, and become authors for a day as they pen their own stories. Here are a few of the many books that will be shared and that parents can pick up early to celebrate.
“Freddie Ramos Takes Off”
by Jacqueline Jules
One day, Freddie Ramos comes home from school and finds a strange box just for him. What’s inside? ZAPATO POWER — shoes that change Freddie’s life by giving him super speed. But what will Freddie do with his fast new skills?
“The Gift of the Sacred Dog”
by Paul Goble
A brave boy goes into the hills and prays for help for his people. A rider on a magnificent animal comes to him and rewards his courage with the Sacred Dog, an animal that can do many things a dog can do, but also more.
by Lane Fredrickson
Nothing frightens Winifred Schnitzel, but she does need her sleep, and the neighborhood monsters won’t let her be! Every night they sneak in, growling and belching and making a ruckus. Winifred constructs clever traps but nothing stops these crafty creatures.
by Alma Flor Ada
Ten-year-old Margie has spent her entire life trying to fit in — to pass as an American, despite the fact that her parents were born in Mexico. Then, her Mexican cousin Lupe comes to live with them, and her plan goes awry.
“Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things”
by Lenore Look and LeUyen Pham
Second grader Alvin Ho is scared of everything — especially school, which frightens him so much that he can’t say a word.
“American Born Chinese”
by Gene Luen Yang
The story of three seemingly unrelated characters who come together with an unexpected twist in this action-packed modern fable.
by Kevin Taylor
A young boy decides to raise lions in his home, but when they begin to overcrowd the family. He then discovers the lions have no place in their home at all.
“Meet My Hindu Gods”
by Reena Puri and Mital Telhan
This wonderful board book is a perfect introduction to Hindu gods for your baby, toddler, or preschooler. It features fun illustrations and simple descriptions to which any child can easily relate and understand.
“I Am Me & You Are You”
by Stacie Sullivan-Simon
This children’s book about racism and bullying addresses a difficult subject in a positive manner for both young and old alike.