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We Need Diverse Books is more than just an organization; it’s a movement. People of colour and people who have been historically underrepresented in books are taking a stand. And thankfully, some publishers have listened. They understand the many reasons to create—and to read—multicultural books for children.

Here are just a few of those reasons.

1. Society Is Diverse
We live in a global society. People emigrate from all over the world to live in Canada. Cultures, races, and religions are all mixed together. We are all living as one. Only creating white characters in books simply isn’t representative of the diversity that exists in society today, especially in Canada where diversity plays an important role. Multicultural books for children with characters of different ethnicities present a realistic picture of society.

2. Understanding Those Around Us
Diverse books also enhance our understanding of different cultures, ethnicities, and experiences. This can help us relate to those we interact with. Because we live in a multicultural society, reading diverse books to children can help them develop empathy and acceptance towards their peers and nurture meaningful relationships in classrooms, on playgrounds, and beyond.

3. Taking Us Back to Our Roots
Ethnic-centric children’s books are valuable. They can help open up conversations with children about their roots—their ancestors, their heritages, and their family traditions. It can help children better understand why they dress a certain way or eat certain foods when others in their classes do not, for example.

4. Linguistic Diversity
Diverse books also allow for linguistic diversity. Multicultural books for children that are set in a cultural backdrop, like Missing Nimâmâ, often have words scattered in the text or have a glossary in the back in the affiliated language. Bilingual books are not only fun for children, but they also offer a great way to introduce children to new languages.

 5. Global Awareness
Although we’re certainly advocates of Canadian literature, we also understand the importance of reading books from around the world. Multicultural books for children that are set in other areas of the world offer informative historical and geographical details. They also improve global awareness for kids. Plus, these types of books can also take children to faraway places that they may never be able to visit, expanding their horizons while they read in the comfort of their own homes.

6. Abolishing Stereotypes
Stereotypes, skewed images, and clichés of different cultures abound in the media. High-quality multicultural books for children can abolish stereotypes and dispel common myths and misconceptions, helping children learn facts and see real portrayals of marginalized groups.

7. Identifying with Characters
All kids deserve to read stories with characters, cultures, and communities that they can relate to. It’s only natural that we would want to relate to the characters in a book. But mainstream books make it very difficult for marginalized groups to be able to do so. Diverse books can help more children, from varying backgrounds, find stories that they can relate to and characters that they can identify with. This can foster a love of reading and put children on a path of self-discovery.

Children’s reading diets should be well balanced. Multicultural children’s books can open up the world, help kids identify and relate, and help them become more prepared for anything that life brings them.


 


Comments

01/04/2017 3:19pm

Nice post. I read a scathing review of THAT SQUEAK on Amazon recently, wherein the reviewer said she was sick and tired of blonde white women trying to write about the black experience, and accusing the publisher of trying to take advantage of the diversity movement by making the characters in the book diverse in appearance, although the book doesn't have anything to do with race. That idea of cultural appropriation is a tough one. I heard Jacqueline Woodson speak so eloquently last year, and she emphasized that books must be both mirrors and windows reflecting and providing opportunity to see into other lives.

02/18/2017 2:58am

It is important that we expose each one of us, especially the youth in a diversified culture as soon as their consciousness and their awareness of the things around Eris. The youth has too many questions in mind that we should entertain. Open up the issue of having a diversified society and break stereotyping. Open sensitive issues that would widen their understanding. It is important that we teach them the proper way of dealing with such issues. With these, I could only expect a more conducive and peaceful environment.

Culture plays an important role in the development of an individual and having books about different culture can give children the knowledge they need about different culture. The children's book should not only have white characters, but also Asians, Black people, and any other race. Having multicultural characters in a children's book will teach them that they should respect others races and as well as to interact with them. The diversity in books can be the start of awareness as to why mainstream books should be less of it is promoting that other races should not be dealt with. Thanks for pointing out the reasons of reading multicultural children's book.

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