Why are multicultural children’s books so important?

with 4 Comments

Why are multicultural children's books so important

As an adoptive mom of two little black girls, I am always on the search for multicultural children’s books that reflect the diversity of our world in an empowering and non-stereotypical way.

It’s good to see an increasing number of multicultural children’s books about transracial adoption and about different skin colours out there. Sadly though, there still seems to be a lack of multicultural children’s books with just “normal” everyday-type-of-stories, books in which the skin colour isn’t the main point of the story.

According to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) the number of multicultural children’s books published in the United States increased by only 4% over the last 20 years – still a long way to go!

Multicultural Children's Books Infographic 2015

Sometimes people ask me if multicultural children’s books really are that important; if it really matters to children which skin colours they see in the books they read. These questions always leave me baffled (needless to say they always come from white people…).

To me the answer is as simple as it is obvious: We live in a multicultural world, so yes, of course it matters! I usually respond with a counter question though: How would you have felt if there hadn’t been any white characters in your childhood books?

All children deserve and need to see themselves reflected in the books they read. To say it with famous multicultural children’s book author Ezra Jack Keats: “My book would have him [a little black boy] there simply because he should have been there all along.”

Having worked as a Social Worker for a Fostering Agency in the UK for many years, I have witnessed and first-hand dealt with the self-esteem issues children of colour experience growing up in white-dominated communities.

No doubt, reading is an important factor in any child’s development (and I strongly believe that all children should be exposed to multicultural children’s books in order to learn to respect people of all races and cultures).

For children of colour, however, having access to books that positively reflect their own ethnicity can play an essential role in building a positive sense of identity and good self-esteem. Through books children learn about themselves and the world, and every child should be able to see their ethnicity and their culture reflected in children’s literature.

I spend a lot of my spare time searching the internet for good quality multicultural children’s books, i.e. books that have a strong and positive message about children of colour, and that do not support stereotypes.

When I talk to other adoptive parents, they often tell me that they also struggle to find good quality multicultural children’s books. So I thought it would be a nice idea to create a resource website where I can share my book findings – Colours of Us was born!

I’m only just starting and will constantly be adding new books, so please do come back often!

If you would like to know more about me, go to About.

Multicultural Disney Toys Multicultural Games & Puzzles Multicultural Barbie Dolls
Multicultural Dolls & Puppets Multicultural Play Figures Multicultural Arts & Crafts

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4 Responses

  1. Becky Villareal
    | Reply

    I am a child from a multicultural background who has struggled with this my whole life. I have written two books that deal with this Gianna the Great and Halito Gianna: The Journey Continues. I wrote these for the children I have worked with as a teacher for the past twenty-three years and for the older children who need a hight interest low vocabulary book to read. That way they can all realize how very special and important they are especially in the times we live in.

    I would very much like to send you copies of my books so you could consider including them in your quest to help our multicultural angels who pass our way each and every day. Take care and be blessed.

    Becky Villareal

    • Colours of Us

      Lovely! Will contact you via email.

  2. Amal (AMB)
    | Reply

    Agreed. It’s important for children to identify with the characters in the books they read and to know that the mainstream culture respected the experiences of their communities enough to highlight them in books.

    I also think it’s important for children who grow up in racially/ethnically homogeneous communities–as so many do, unfortunately–to see experiences that are different from their own inside the books they read.

    • Colours of Us

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Yes, all children should read multicultural books.

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