Multicultural Children’s Book Day: Book Review
Now in its sixth year and held on the last Friday in January, Multicultural Children’s Book Day (MCBD) celebrates books that celebrate diversity. As classrooms are increasingly filled with children from a diversity of backgrounds, it is important to provide them with books that reflect their lives, books in which they can find themselves.
The purpose of Multicultural Children’s Book Day is to create awareness of books that celebrate diversity and to get more of them into classrooms and libraries.
Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen, co-founders of MCBD, define multicultural books as:
- Books that contain characters of color as well as main characters that represent a minority point of view.
- Books written by an author of diversity or color from their perspective. Search #ownvoices to discover diverse books written by diverse authors.
- Books that share ideas, stories, and information about cultures, race, religion, language, and traditions. These books can be non-fiction, but still written in a way that kids will find entertaining and informative.
- Books that embrace special needs or even “hidden disabilities” like ADHD, ADD, and anxiety.
Multicultural Children’s Book Day provides us with an opportunity to examine the collections of books in our classrooms and libraries to determine if they reflect the lives our children.
This year, for the first time, I am participating in the MCBD celebrations with a review of I am Farmer, a picture book written by Miranda and Baptiste Paul and illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon. I am grateful to Miranda and Paul and publisher Millbrook Press for providing me with a link to access the book on NetGallery prior to its publication in early February.
I Am Farmer is the story of Tantoh Nforba, an environmental hero in the central African nation of Cameroon. Tantoh was bullied as a child and nicknamed ‘Farmer’ for his interest in plants, the earth and nature. He now bears the name ‘Farmer’ proudly as he improves the lives of people in his own community, and others, by improving access to clean water and establishing productive gardening practices.
The story of his life growing up in Cameroon, told through words, photographs and illustrations, will be different from that of many children reading the book. However, most will find something of themselves in the story as we learn how Tantoh remains true to himself, despite the attitudes of others, and achieves success in his own way by making a positive difference in the world.
Whether read at home or at school, this inspiring true story provides many opportunities for discussion; including about lifestyle, passion, interests and the ability of one person to make a difference.
As Farmer Tanto says,
“It doesn’t matter where you come from—you are never too small or insignificant to contribute to the long-term sustainability of our planet. By doing simple things to the best of your ability, you are improving our world.”
That’s an important message for all of us.
Farmer Tanto’s story
As a young boy, Tanto Nforba took a great interest and found great joy in the earth, plants and nature. His grandmother encouraged his interest and, although others jeered at him, his interest only grew.
When, as an adult, Tanto became seriously ill from drinking unclean water, he realised the importance of access to clean water and decided that no one should die from drinking something that is necessary for life.
With the assistance of other members of the community, Tantoh enacted changes that improved the quality of water, produce and their lives. But his vision is not limited to his own community. Through the establishment of a non-profit organisation Save Your Future Association (SYFA), to which people all over the world can donate money and supplies, Tantoh is saving the lives of people in other communities.
Why share Tanto’s story?
Through telling Tantoh’s story, it is the authors’ hope that the book may ‘inspire you to recognise that one person (even you!) can sow seeds of change and cultivate a brighter future’ and that ‘young readers everywhere will be encouraged to become stewards of the earth and leaders in their own communities.’ What a wonderful vision.
At the back of the book is a glossary and pronunciation guide. There is also a list of words used to mean water in different dialects and languages used in Cameroon. This addition makes the book a perfect fit for the celebration of this year as The International Year of Indigenous Languages.
There is also a collection of proverbs, both old and new, that would foster interesting discussions.
Lessons about learning from Tanto
Tanto’s story teaches us other important lessons about learning, including understanding that there are many ways to learn, that learning doesn’t just happen in school, and that we can all take responsibility for our learning.
Tanto shows us the importance of:
- Having a desire to learn
Tanto’s thirst for knowledge, his need to know everything, is something we wish every child to emulate, whatever their area of interest.
- Learning through experience
Tanto learns through his own experiences and experiments, keeping records and taking notes.
- Reading to learn
Tanto reads to find out what he doesn’t already know or is unable to learn from experience. He studies books on his own, in school and in college.
- Asking others
Tanto asks others who may have the information he is seeking.
An experiment to conduct
When he was young, Tanto’s grandmother told him that plants need sunlight, earth and water to grow. Perhaps children may like to conduct their own experiments to see what happens when seeds are planted in different conditions.
I am certain that all who read will be inspired by the story of Farmer Tanto Nforba, Cameroon’s hero of the environment.
About Multicultural Book Day
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2019 (1/25/19) is in its 6th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.
MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board!
Medallion Level Sponsors
Super Platinum: Make A Way Media
BRONZE: Charlesbridge Publishing, Judy Dodge Cummings, Author Gwen Jackson, Kitaab World, Language Lizard – Bilingual & Multicultural Resources in 50+ Languages, Lee & Low Books, Miranda Paul and Baptiste Paul, Redfin, Author Gayle H. Swift, T.A. Debonis-Monkey King’s Daughter, TimTimTom Books, Lin Thomas, Sleeping Bear Press/Dow Phumiruk, Vivian Kirkfield,
MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Author Sponsors on board
Honorary: Julie Flett, Mehrdokht Amini, Author Janet Balletta, Author Kathleen Burkinshaw, Author Josh Funk, Chitra Soundar, One Globe Kids – Friendship Stories, Sociosights Press and Almost a Minyan, Karen Leggett, Author Eugenia Chu, CultureGroove Books, Phelicia Lang and Me On The Page, L.L. Walters, Author Sarah Stevenson, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, Hayley Barrett, Sonia Panigrah, Author Carolyn Wilhelm, Alva Sachs and Dancing Dreidels, Author Susan Bernardo, Milind Makwana and A Day in the Life of a Hindu Kid, Tara Williams, Veronica Appleton, Author Crystal Bowe, Dr. Claudia May, Author/Illustrator Aram Kim, Author Sandra L. Richards, Erin Dealey, Author Sanya Whittaker Gragg, Author Elsa Takaoka, Evelyn Sanchez-Toledo, Anita Badhwar, Author Sylvia Liu, Feyi Fay Adventures, Author Ann Morris, Author Jacqueline Jules, CeCe & Roxy Books, Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace, LEUYEN PHAM, Padma Venkatraman, Patricia Newman and Lightswitch Learning, Shoumi Sen, Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, Traci Sorell, Shereen Rahming, Blythe Stanfel, Christina Matula, Julie Rubini, Paula Chase, Erin Twamley, Afsaneh Moradian, Lori DeMonia, Claudia Schwam, Terri Birnbaum/ RealGirls Revolution, Soulful Sydney, Queen Girls Publications, LLC
We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.
Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts
A Crafty Arab, Agatha Rodi Books, All Done Monkey, Barefoot Mommy, Biracial Bookworms, Books My Kids Read, Crafty Moms Share, Colours of Us, Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes, Descendant of Poseidon Reads, Educators Spin on it, Growing Book by Book, Here Wee Read, Joy Sun Bear/ Shearin Lee, Jump Into a Book, Imagination Soup,Jenny Ward’s Class, Kid World Citizen, Kristi’s Book Nook, The Logonauts, Mama Smiles, Miss Panda Chinese, Multicultural Kid Blogs, Raising Race Conscious Children, Shoumi Sen, Spanish Playground
TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Make A Way Media: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/25/19 at 9:00pm.E.S.T. TONS of prizes and book bundles will be given away during the party. GO HERE for more details.
FREE RESOURCES From MCBD
Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrta
Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teacher-classroom-empathy-kit/
Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.
Be sure to check out the lovely Multicultural Book Day video and song.
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