I'm so excited to be part of Multicultural Children's Book Day, taking place on January 27th. Anyone who follows this blog knows the importance I place on books and reading multicultural books with our kids - diverse stories are one of the best gateways to explore the world. I've been given the opportunity to review a lovely story set in Lebanon, which has been a great introduction to our family's year long virtual travel to Lebanon beginning in late February.
Multicultural Children's Book Day was created by children's reading and play advocates Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book & Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom. Their mission 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." What a wonderful mission and goal to support!
Did you know?
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. 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.
You can find an amazing compilation of diversity book lists & resources for parents and educator here.
They've also partnered 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.
Read more about Multicultural Children's Book Day, their co-hosts & sponsors below after our review and activity.
The Olive Tree
The Olive Tree by Elsa Marston is a wonderful story of sharing and forgiveness. Sameer and his family have lived next to an empty house for many years since the war because the family that once lived there had to flee. During those years, Sameer and his family have been enjoying the olive tree, and its olives, that overlooks both gardens. When a young girl, Muna, and her family returns, Sameer is excited to befriend someone his age. However Muna, whose family is different from most in their village, keeps to herself and her parents. She doesn't want to play with Sameer, and she doesn't want to share the olives from the tree that has grown on her side of the fence.
During a storm, lightning strikes and destroys the tree along with part of the wall between the neighbor's homes. This event becomes a catalyst in Sameer's and Muna's relationship - Sameer helps Muna and her family clear the debris, for which Muna is deeply grateful, and a friendship begins to grow.
This is a wonderful story with lovely watercolor illustrations that shares the message of the good that comes from overcoming prejudices, and showing generosity and compassion to each other.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Wisdom Tales as part of Multicultural Children's Book Day. All opinions are my own. In the spirit of MCCBD, I will be donating my copy to Halifax Public Libraries.
Create an olive "sharing" tree that grows with every act of generosity, cooperation and forgiveness.
This "tree" is a way to show our kids we recognize and honor their acts of generosity, cooperation and forgiveness - or generally, kindness - as well as a good exercise in helping them recognize these acts from others. The idea is to add an "olive" to the tree when you witness an act of kindness from others. It's sometimes easy for kids (and us adults) to take for granted seemingly small moments of generosity and cooperation. This tree will bring more awareness, and in turn gratitude and kindness to everyone.
After reading "The Olive Tree" take a moment to talk to your kids about how Muna and Sameer chose to share and work together, how much happier they were for it and how this fostered friendship and compassion. Then bring up making a family "olive tree", and think of examples within your family that would help the "olive tree grow", even just over the past day or two.
To make the tree, gather branches from outside and place them in a vase. Using scissors or a 1" circular punch, cut out green circles for the olives. To hang them, use a hole punch to make a hole in each circle. Then place them, with a pen, next to the tree. And watch it grow!
Would you like to read about more great multicultural books with activities to go along with them?
Check out the linky on January 27th for Multicultural Children's Book Day where bloggers will link up their reviews and activities to promote the reading of multicultural books on their site here.
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. The Multicultural Children's Book Day team hopes to spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of diversity in children’s literature. They 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 the hashtag (#ReadYourWorld) on Twitter and other social media.
MCCBD is Co-Hosted by the following excellent blogs. You can view them here.
Of course, much of this is possible thanks to their generous sponsors:
MCCBD’s 2015 Sponsors include: