It’s no secret that most of 2020 and a good chunk of 2021 can be summed up with the words “epically challenging” when it comes to navigating life with school-aged kids.
The effects of the global pandemic and novel virus known as COVID-19 are still being felt and we predict these ripples of change will continue to dictate life moving forward. We also know that many families will continue to face tough decisions surrounding the upcoming school year.
For homeschoolers, it’s been pretty much business as usual and as with traditional classrooms, reading is always an essential part of learner’s lives no matter what the time of year. We understand that reading, in general, is important. However, we also are keenly aware that young readers need to learn about other cultures, religions, and traditions through the pages of the books they read.
With that in mind, we’ve decided to share our knowledge of fun multicultural books and activities to create a unique resource for homeschooling parents looking for creative ways to keep their kids busy and learning during summer break and the next school year. Here are some great book lists and resources that MCBD has pulled together that will give homeschooling parents and readers great ideas on diverse kids’ books, but also fun activities related to books that will bring stories to life!
Tips and resources for keeping kids reading with Diverse Books for Your Homeschool Classroom
The world has grown a lot smaller. Cultures are colliding, family dynamics are changing rapidly, and the world your children inherit is a delightful melting pot of different cultures, races, and traditions that are just waiting to be explored. Books provide families with an invaluable opportunity to discover our world through vibrant stories, education resources, and colorful illustrations and imagery without ever leaving home comfort.
As the demand for diverse kids’ books increases, so does the publishers’ awareness that this once overlooked genre of books is a much sought-after one. Lee & Low Books, the largest multicultural children’s book publisher in the country, and one of the few minority-owned publishing companies have been committed to producing children’s literature that reflects other races, religions, cultures, and traditions since 1991. In the years following, other notable multicultural children’s book publishers have also made their presence known, including Barefoot Books, Capstone, Candlewick, Language Lizard, MakeAWayMedia, PackNGoGirls, and Wisdom Tales Press to name a few. Shout Mouse Press is a nonprofit writing program and publishing house that empowers young people from marginalized backgrounds to tell their own stories in their voices and act as leaders and agents of change.
But it’s also not just up to educators and libraries to get books of a multicultural nature into the hands of young readers. Parents and homeschoolers can begin preparing their Littles for diversity in children’s literature as soon as they can hold a board book. Online sites like 1000 Black Girl Books, Scholastic, Here Wee Read, and Multicultural Children’s Book Day are also excellent sources to discover new diverse book titles and authors to take note of.
“Two of the best ways to help kids learn, and enjoying learning, about new cultures and traditions is with food and books,” Co-founder of Multicultural Children’s Book Day, Valarie Budayr, added. “Books are especially powerful because they are the seeds of curiosity that inspire us to look further and discover what’s out there, whether real or imaginative. Having books as an integral part of your children’s learning, play, and imagination also helps them understand and be curious about other lives, countries, and cultures.”
Not sure how to identify a diverse or multicultural book? Here are a few key factors to help parents, caregivers, educators, and librarians define books to add to their home or classroom bookshelf:
- Look for books (picture books, chapter book, or YA books) that contain main characters of color as well as supporting characters that represent a minority point of view. Children need to “find themselves” within the pages of the books they read.
- Books that share ideas, stories, and information about cultures, races, religions, languages, disabilities, and traditions.
- Non-fiction books embrace our world and offer children new ways to connect to a diverse and more vibrant world.
- Research #OwnVoices for books written by people of color about their own diverse experiences and journeys.
Books play a massive part in all children’s lives, and studies have shown that reading to a child as little as twenty minutes per week will result in stronger readers and an interest in books that will last a lifetime. Hopefully, these ideas and resources will add a whole new layer of awesome to your homeschool bookshelf!
Keep Calm and Read On!
Rebecca “Becky” Flansburg is an author, freelance writer, and project manager for the non-profit online children’s literacy initiative, Multicultural Children’s Book Day/ #ReadYourWorld. Join the celebration! Our 9th annual celebration will take place on January 28, 2022. For more information, visit Multicultural Children’s Book Day on the web.