Hands Around The Library Author's Blog

Blog posts from Karen Leggett Abouraya and Susan L. Roth, the authors of The Hands Around The Library - Protecting Egypt's Treasured Books.

"Diversity is Not a Trend"

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“Diversity is not a trend,” says acclaimed editor and publisher Neal Porter. “It is a fact of life.”

Also a fact of life are the increasing ways to find, read and promote books by diverse authors with diverse stories and protagonists.

Multicultural Children's book DayThis Saturday, January 27, will be Multicultural Children’s Book Day (MCBD), initiated in 2014 by children’s author Valarie Budayr and blogger Mia Wenjen with a mission to “not only raise awareness for kids’ books that celebrate diversity but to get more of these books into classrooms and libraries.”  They define multicultural books as

  • Books that contain characters of color, as well as characters that represent a minority point of view.
  • Books that share ideas, stories, and information about cultures, race, religion, language, and traditions.
  • Books that embrace our world, and offer children new ways to connect to a diverse and richer world.


These are precisely the books that author Gene Luen Yang encouraged with his “Reading Without Walls” Challenge to read a book about a character who doesn’t look or live like you, a book about a topic you don’t know much about, or a book in a format you don’t normally read for fun. 

How many of those have you read in the past year?  And where do you find the best of these books to read? 

The MCBD website  features a wealth of book and award lists as well as activities for teachers and parents. There are book giveaways and a Twitter party Saturday night, July 27, at 9:00 pm Eastern Time. Just sign into your Twitter account, search for the hashtag #ReadYourWorld and join the conversation – maybe even win some books. In addition, Read Your World: A Guide to Multicultural Children’s Books for Parents and Educators ebook created by the MCBD team will be FREE from January 23rd-29th.

Read Africa WeekOnce you are all pumped up after Multicultural Children’s Book Day, prepare to celebrate Read Africa Week during the first week of February. The founders of the Children’s Africana Book Awards invite teachers, librarians, parents and concerned adults to kick off Black History Month with great books about Africa – and then continue reading about Africa all year long. Here are the 2017 CABA winners as well as a Pencil Tips Writing Workshop with writing prompts based on one of the winners, Evan Turk’s The Storyteller about Morocco. On Monday, January 29, I’ll be posting another Writing Workshop about Nnedi Okorafor’s Nigerian tale Chicken in the Kitchen (Illustrated by Nekrdokht Amini).

 A brand new list of books for young readers highlights girls and women of many ethnic backgrounds who are “bold, adventurous and daring. They stand out, and their stories offer much-needed inspiration to young people navigating difficult and confusing times,” writes Takoma Park, MD, librarian Karen MacPherson in The Washington Post.

Finally – and including all types of books – is World Read Aloud Day on February 1: Read aloud. Change the world.  I and many authors will be Skyping with classrooms all around the United States on this day. I’m looking forward to speaking with Susan Walterich’s students at A.J. Schmidt Elementary School in Angola, New York; Lisa Straubinger’s fourth graders at T. Baldwin Demarest School in Old Tappan, New Jersey, and Crystal Brunelle’s third graders at Northern Hills Elementary School in Onalaska, Wisconsin. Skype offers a page to find authors available for video chats with students and author Kate Messner also maintains a list of authors available for World Read Aloud Day conversations.

Now it’s your turn.  Do you have favorite diverse books or authors you’d like to recommend? Please add them as a comment to this blog – with links to reviews, awards or other information.

 Thank you for sharing a new book today with a child!

MCBD Poster



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