If you’re interested in children’s literature and diversity, and are on social media, you might have seen the hashtags #ReadYourWorld and #MCCBD2016. It turns out that today is Multicultural Children’s Book Day – a campaign of awareness and celebration that is near to my heart. I only wish I had known about it sooner so I could do more to get the word out and participate in conversations, but that is the nature of these things, and as the movement grows, there will surely be more opportunities for everyone to engage. We simply can’t have too many kinds of stories or too many people involved!
The beautiful truth highlighted by this collaborative effort is that ever more parents, educators, and ordinary people are coming together to demand stories that capture a wider slice of our humanity, not only in the characters that are portrayed but in the ways that stories are told. From my perspective, this is essential for all children, not only because stories provide one of the best ways to experience perspective-shifting and curiosity about other people’s experiences, but also because kids of all backgrounds need to see themselves and their communities validated in the media. Multicultural stories are for everyone, because they are fun, because they help us understand our world, and because collectively they illuminate the magnificent complexity of our shared humanity.
I’m very proud to be part of this movement with my own story, Luminarias Light the Way, a story about newcomers, contemporary identities in the U.S., and making friends across cultural differences. When I wrote the story for my Master’s in Intercultural Relations capstone project back in 2013-2014, I admit I felt rather alone; on the one hand not many people in my field were doing this kind of work, and on the other hand the greater society and mainstream publishers did not seem too terribly interested. Now, I suddenly realize that there are many people like me, and that I have many peers and even people to look up to for advice, inspiration, guidance, support, and above all, community.
Thank you to the founders of Multicultural Children’s Book Day for launching this mission. For now, I’m a fellow traveler – but in the future, I hope to get better acquainted with you all! Happy writing – and reading – our world.