Multicultural Children’s Book Day: Book Review

  • Published on January 18, 2019

A review of I am Farmer for Multicultural Book Day

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.

Multicultural Children's Book Day Poster

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.

Multicultural Children's Book Day reviewer button

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_the story of Cameroon environmentalist Tantoh Nforba

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:

  1. 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.

  1. Learning through experience

Tanto learns through his own experiences and experiments, keeping records and taking notes.

  1. 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.

  1. Asking others

Tanto asks others who may have the information he is seeking.

growing seeds, seeds sprouting

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.

Multicultural Children's Book Day logo

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!

*View our 2019 Medallion Sponsors here:
*View our 2019 MCBD Author Sponsors here:

Medallion Level Sponsors

Honorary: Children’s Book CouncilThe Junior Library

Super Platinum: Make A Way Media

GOLD: Bharat BabiesCandlewick PressChickasaw Press, Juan Guerra and The Little Doctor / El doctorcitoKidLitTV,  Lerner Publishing GroupPlum Street Press,

SILVER: Capstone PublishingCarole P. RomanAuthor Charlotte RiggleHuda EssaThe Pack-n-Go Girls,

BRONZE: Charlesbridge PublishingJudy Dodge CummingsAuthor Gwen JacksonKitaab WorldLanguage Lizard – Bilingual & Multicultural Resources in 50+ LanguagesLee & Low BooksMiranda Paul and Baptiste Paul, RedfinAuthor Gayle H. Swift,  T.A. Debonis-Monkey King’s DaughterTimTimTom BooksLin ThomasSleeping Bear Press/Dow PhumirukVivian Kirkfield,

MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Author Sponsors on board

Honorary: Julie FlettMehrdokht AminiAuthor Janet BallettaAuthor Kathleen BurkinshawAuthor Josh FunkChitra SoundarOne Globe Kids – Friendship StoriesSociosights Press and Almost a MinyanKaren LeggettAuthor Eugenia ChuCultureGroove BooksPhelicia Lang and Me On The PageL.L. WaltersAuthor Sarah StevensonAuthor Kimberly Gordon BiddleHayley BarrettSonia PanigrahAuthor Carolyn Wilhelm, Alva Sachs and Dancing DreidelsAuthor Susan BernardoMilind Makwana and A Day in the Life of a Hindu KidTara WilliamsVeronica AppletonAuthor Crystal BoweDr. Claudia MayAuthor/Illustrator Aram KimAuthor Sandra L. RichardsErin DealeyAuthor Sanya Whittaker GraggAuthor Elsa TakaokaEvelyn Sanchez-ToledoAnita BadhwarAuthor Sylvia LiuFeyi Fay AdventuresAuthor Ann MorrisAuthor Jacqueline JulesCeCe & Roxy BooksSandra Neil Wallace and Rich WallaceLEUYEN PHAMPadma VenkatramanPatricia Newman and Lightswitch LearningShoumi SenValerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, Traci SorellShereen RahmingBlythe StanfelChristina MatulaJulie RubiniPaula ChaseErin TwamleyAfsaneh MoradianLori DeMonia, Claudia Schwam, Terri Birnbaum/ RealGirls RevolutionSoulful SydneyQueen 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 ArabAgatha Rodi BooksAll Done MonkeyBarefoot MommyBiracial Bookworms, Books My Kids Read, Crafty Moms ShareColours of UsDiscovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes, Descendant of Poseidon ReadsEducators Spin on it Growing Book by BookHere Wee Read, Joy Sun Bear/ Shearin LeeJump Into a BookImagination Soup,Jenny Ward’s ClassKid World CitizenKristi’s Book NookThe LogonautsMama SmilesMiss Panda ChineseMulticultural Kid BlogsRaising Race Conscious ChildrenShoumi SenSpanish 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 Multicultural Books for Teachers:

Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators:

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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    Thank you, Robbie. I’m pleased you enjoyed the story. It is a wonderful initiative but, while there are stories like this around the world, we still need more to be published and shared.

    It’s good that Tantoh’s story can be told to inspire more of us. And to get education where it is needed — that’s the first layer of resources to getting more diverse voices published.

    That’s so true, Charli. We need to get the message out there. The more books that are read, the more that will be published, and the more will be read. A wonderful spiral of education and improvement.

    Wow, what a great post full of resources, lessons and a spotlight on an amazing book about an amazing man. Diversity in books is growing but I also wonder if marginalized groups have the resources they need to make it to publication.

    It’s an inspiring true story, Charli, one that gives me hope. Not just for the positive changes Tantoh is making in his own community, but for the changes that anyone of us can make if we put our minds (and hearts) to it, and not let the attitudes of others be unnecessary boulders in our way. Tantoh’s story has great lessons for all of us.
    I am unable to provide an answer to your wondering, but it’s an interesting point to raise. It’s a good thing that Baptiste and Miranda Paul were able to share Tantoh’s story with us.

Please share your thoughts. I love it when you do.

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