#Multiculturalbooksmatter

Friends,

I want to ask you to join me on this campaign #multiculturalbooksmatter in an effort to bring attention to books that celebrate multicultural characters, especially in children’s literature.
Recently, I’ve become aware of the need for multicultural children’s books. This infographic by Lee and Low shows the state of diversity in children’s literature as of right now:

Click on the link to go lee and Low site.
Click on the link to go Lee and Low Books site.

Even though demographics have shifted considerably in the past years, the number of multicultural/diverse books — or by diverse authors–published since 1994 has stayed pretty much the same.

Who is it to blame? Publishing houses with a preconceived idea of what sells and what doesn’t? Agents who don’t give a voice to authors with an accent or from a different background? Authors who do not reflect the world we live in? Book lovers who do not buy books that have multicultural themes or characters? We could go on and own trying to blame one another, but I’d rather focus on one thing: change.
I’ve joined the #weneeddiversebooks campaign on social media. This 2015-02-24 14.28.33campaign was started by authors Ellen Oh and Malinda Lo in early 2014. The campaign has gained a lot of support by the publishing industry, authors,  and bloggers, and has brought the issue of diversity to the forefront. But there’s always more to do!

Why is this important to me? Because, as an immigrant in the United States, I want my children to grow in a world where they can be proud of their culture and heritage. I don’t want my children to be defined by their race. I want them to be defined by their values and actions.

Books are more than mirrors. Books are also windows that let us take a peek into each other worlds to realize that we aren’t that different.
When I first came to this country, I worked at a restaurant. I clearly remember a customer asking if I had left my country because I was tired of picking up cotton. My answer was a blank stare. While on a family vacation, a lady took me for the breakfast buffet attendant, even though I wasn’t wearing anything that resembled a hotel uniform.

I don’t want my children living in a culture that stereotypes and patronizes them.
IMG_20150414_122144That’s the reason behind the #multiculturalbooksmatter campaign. I want to highlight books that portray multicultural characters in a positive, inclusive way, and authors ‘of color’ who are more than just the color of their skin.

If you want to join, tweet a picture to tell us why multicultural books matter… or write a blog post, share it on social media, start a conversation with your children, buy a book that mirrors you or opens a window. Do something to be part of the change.

Let’s celebrate our world through literature, and let’s prepare our children to be citizens of a more tolerant world.

Mariana Llanos

Photo by Steffanie Halley
Photo by Steffanie Halley

Mariana Llanos is not only a children’s books writer. She’s also mom to three, lover of chocolate, hoarder of books, night owl, coffee drinker, Beatles fan. Whatever you do, do not ask her to sing Karaoke with you. You might never see the mic again.

 

Her books are available in English and Spanish on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1J03OpB

http://www.marianallanos.com

 

 

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24 thoughts on “#Multiculturalbooksmatter

  1. When I realized you are in Oklahoma, it all makes more sense. Different regions are at different levels of awareness about multiculturalism. It’s really diverse here – and has been for quite some time.
    This is a noble cause. One we’ve been involved with (as an educator, publisher book rep, importer) along with school districts and major library systems/state library associations since the 90’s. Never enough books.
    One way readers/bloggers can assist besides writing posts and buying books themselves is to email, drop a note, talk with local librarians suggesting new titles and authors. Most library systems have a spot on their websites for suggestions. Research, read and then suggest titles you like and want your library to offer. Don’t just say “we need mutlicultural books” , offer them titles and specifics – and you’ll find they are often excited and happy to help. Library systems have meetings and they love to share book titles they’ve discovered. Help them! Take real action that makes things change.

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    1. Hi there! Thanks for your comment. Oklahoma is changing, thankfully, and becoming much more open and culturally aware. It’s a great place to live, tornadoes and all. Thank you for your wonderful suggestion about talking and suggesting books to our librarians. My independent bookstore does a wonderful job stocking up on books of different subjects and they’re great at taking book suggestions. The #multiculturalbooksmatter campaign pretends to be a call for action. Just like I stated at the end of the post: tweet, share, start a conversation, buy, change. In my case, I’m writing children’s books that depict Latino characters in different situations. I’d love to hear more suggestions on how to achieve our goals. In the meantime I appreciate comments like yours. Have a great day!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Libraries and state library associations (for public and school librarians) are a real vanguard in this area. Their conferences are a great place to promote multiculturalism. Have you considered being a speaker? (you get to sign and sell books, too) They aren’t hard to find or contact with google and email.
        In many places libraries have become cultural centers for immigrants offering more than just books and storytime.
        School district’s also often have a library dept. or manager – another place to check in and offer titles Schools do have very specific guidelines – you have to know the books well.( Illustrations from outside the US publishers may not meet US school standards as some allow more nudity than allowed in schools.) Always good to offer loan a copy so they can check it out and get approval if necessary. It is bothersome, but so many parents are so picky these days.
        Good luck and thanks for being part of the reading solution.

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      2. As a matter of fact, I visit schools almost every day… that’s what I do! I do virtual visits in the US and the world. I love being able to reach so many children and plant a seed of knowledge and the love for reading. This Saturday, I’m going to be a speaker at the University of Central Oklahoma, and my theme is Books for Diversity. Actually, researching for my presentation is how I came across with this big campaign to promote diversity in literature. I know this is the beginning. I look forward to be a speaker in many more events and to keep on offering solutions. Thank you for brainstorming with me.

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      3. It’s the big library conferences you need to hit as a speaker to make impact. Like Texas Library Association. (As big as the FIL in MX – been to both). Huge attendance from across the country: librarians, teachers, book stores, sales reps., importing companies. One big party – and really an opportunity to get books known.
        The bilingual/ Dual language/ESOL conferences are good for school classroom contact, but need to be selective which to attend – and who has money to buy.

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  2. This is a great post and a strong argument. Perhaps we could get the minority children in our area who have low reading scores more interested in reading, if they could read about children like themselves.

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    1. That’s right! I feel so sad every year when I translate for Spanish-speaking parents at Parent-Teachers conference, and see that most kids do so poorly in reading. Like you said, maybe this is a way to spike their interest.

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  3. Reblogged this on dorothy de kok and commented:
    Living together in a harmonious society is not just a pie in the sky goal. It can be done, and it begins with our children and grandchildren. What better way to influence this than by offering books that pose the ideal.

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