KidLit TV loves Multicultural Children’s Book Day and everything they do to celebrate diversity and multiculturalism in children’s books. This month our KidLit TV Featured Expert is Becky Flansburg, a proud mom of two who spends her time freelance writing, blogging and working as the project manager for Multicultural Children’s Book Day, a national children’s literacy event. When she’s not happily writing and creating content, Becky enjoys being outside, reading and spending time with her kiddos. You can connect with her on Twitter as @RebeccFlansburg or via her blog Franticmommy.
We’re so glad that you’re our Featured Expert this month! Can you tell our audience a little more about what you do?
I am so excited to be included in this wonderful opportunity! I am a freelancer writer and blogger, but many people know me best as the project manager for the nonprofit organization Multicultural Children’s Book Day.
An organization and an online event, Multicultural Children’s Book Day celebrates diversity in children’s literature and strives to get those books into the hands of parents, teachers, and librarians. I have been the project manager for this event for the last three years and have been incredibly blessed to work with the co-founders, Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen, along with hundreds of book reviewers and multicultural children’s book authors. MCCBD is a labor of love and I am proud to be a part of it.
What is the best advice you can offer parents when raising reluctant readers?
As the mom of two reluctant readers, I speak from experience. Our son Jake and daughter Sara fall squarely into this category, much to the chagrin of their mother. Can you imagine how frustrating it is to have access to amazing multicultural books and have both of your kids turn up their noses to reading at least 90% of the time? The best advice I can give to parents faced with a similar challenge is to just keep trying. Just as parents keep offering a child a new food, I continually show books to my kids that I think might interest them. I also encourage them to read works by new authors with whom I’ve connected.
I’ve also found that they take more of an interest in reading when I involve them in the work I do. During MCCBD 2016, Sara helped me open the packages containing books authors had donated. This resulted in her happily trotting off to her room with a “new find” on more than one occasion. Jake was a little tougher. At 13 he had more interest in video games than books, but there were certain series that did interest him. Several of these, like Percy Jackson, caught his fancy because we read them together, sometimes even out loud. Again, I just keep showing him cool books I have come across with the hope he will express interest in reading them.
What are some tips parents and teachers can follow to include more multicultural books in the classroom and at home?
I think the first step is to identify what a “multicultural book” is. At MCCBD we identify them as:
- Books that contain characters of color and characters representing minority points of view in which children can “find themselves”
- Books that share ideas, stories, and information about culture, race, religion, language, and traditions
- Books that offer children new ways to embrace and connect with a richly diverse world
To begin, I would advise them simply to be open-minded about including these books on their classroom shelves. There are many great multicultural children’s books available today, and MCCBD has made finding them easy with our robust lists and resources. Thanks to these booklists, parents, and educators can locate book titles by country, culture, and nationality. We also have 250+ multicultural book reviews available from our event. You can find links to those reviews here.
To help teachers get a jump-start on adding diverse books to their classrooms, MCCBD has a Classroom Reading Challenge sign-up available that allows teachers to sign their classroom up for a free, hardcover, library-quality children’s book generously donated by the Junior Library Guild. We highly encourage them to sign up to get a free book! Even after the MCCBD event officially ends, we continue to work diligently to get books into the hands of readers.
Many parents are concerned about how technology will affect their child’s literacy abilities. How can kids use technology to help with reading/literacy?
I think it is all about balance. If your child seems to love reading books on Kindle, go with it. If your child likes to hold a physical book their hands, but are open to apps or websites that may encourage them to read even more, consider that, too. I especially love it when I see book reviews with companion book extensions and activities. This allows kids and parents the opportunity to put down the Kindle or the book and do something fun and educational together that brings the book they are reading to life.
What are your favorite Valentine’s Day books for kids and teens?
Wow, that’s a toughie. Back when my kiddos were little, they were full-blown into the Little Critter books by Mercer Mayer. He wrote a sweet Valentine’s Day Little Critter book that we read over and over.
What are some of your favorite Pinterest activities for parents, teachers and kids?
I have several favorite Pinterest boards that I hunt for ideas and inspiration! Jump Into a Book has a Pinterest board filled with great book extension activities, PragmaticMom has a wonderful Multicultural Books for Kids board, and I also find lots of goodies on Educator’s Spin on It’s boards.
In your opinion how will parents and educators benefit from visiting KidLit TV?
I know for a fact that KidLit TV has some very special offerings that parents and educators won’t be able to find elsewhere! One of those special offerings is your new Read Out Loud series where author/illustrators read their books on camera. What a superb way to share books with kids! This is a great, free resource for parents and educators. KidLit TV is just so creative and innovative. Keep being awesome, you guys!