Since last year’s #WeNeedDiverseBooks grassroots campaign, the publishing world has been forced to take a hard look at some key statistics. With children being the most impressionable and books making such a strong impact in their lives, parents and educators are making an effort to ensure the books their children read represent people and stories from all around the world.
Although immigrant populations in the West have been rising over the last few decades, the books our children are reading have remained the same. While some parents are desperately looking for resources that they can share with their children, publishers still seemed to be convinced that diverse books “don’t sell.” As a result, newer publishers, such as Lee and Low books, Gnaana, and Bharat Babies, have emerged that are focussing specifically on bridging the gaps on bookshelves.
At Masalamommas, we strongly support the We Need Diverse Books movement. We know the value of having our children — all children, regardless of ethnicity or background — to experience the world through the eyes of characters that have diverse perspectives and experiences. That’s why we began the Masalamommas’ Children’s Book List, an annual list that takes a close look at South Asian children’s books reviewed by parents, Masalamommas board members and educators.
Educational Impact: The Importance of Mirrors and Windows
In education, teachers are always striving to include resources that are diverse. The reason for this is to provide mirrors and windows for children. First, it is important children see themselves in the books they read. Every child wants to imagine themselves as the protagonist — an adventurer, explorer, or superhero. Seeing people of color on the covers of books helps children see that they, too, can be the hero and not just a sidekick.
Similarly, it’s important for all children to understand and see the world from a variety of different perspectives. Reading diverse books provides a window into different worlds, seeing from the eyes of characters who come from different backgrounds, cultures, and family structures. Unfortunately, diverse books have been identified as for kids of color. This is not true at all. In a recent panel discussion at BookCon, many speakers voiced that diverse books are for white kids too — to broaden their world views, become empathetic, mindful, and understanding people.
Sharing Eid Traditions Through Children’s Literature: Amal’s Eid
In light of the beginning of Ramadan this week, we had the pleasure of reviewing Amal’s Eid, a children’s book about Ramadan and Eid traditions.
Amal’s Eid is about a muslim family preparing for Eid. The main character, Amal, learns the significance of the holiday — both the family traditions as well as the religous significance. It addresses the topic in a developmentally appropriate way. The illustrations are vivid and bright, appealing to young readers. The vocabulary is simple and age-appropriate for children 3 -10.
Amal’s Eid is one of a kind in that it is a valuable learning tool for parents, teachers, and childrens. Parents can use the book to help their children to understand their own cultural traditions or the traditions of family members or friends. Teachers can use the text in the classroom as a read aloud to share the traditions of muslim children in the class, encourage and empower them to do the same. Children can use it as a tool to share their culture and family traditions within a classroom setting, or outside the classroom.
We’ve included a few Ramadan and Eid resources to help parents, teachers, and children use this wonderful resource effectively. Click here for the downloadable PDFs.
In addition, we’ve partnered with Bharat Babies to giveaway a copy of Amal’s Eid to one lucky Masalamommas reader!
To enter, comment below with your favorite family tradition.
Contest closes June 30, 2015 at 11:59PM EST. A winner will be chosen using Random.org. Good luck! **only one entry per household. Contest is open to readers worldwide.
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Love this book idea! Reminds me
Of how my parents would let us skip school on Eid – but would never tell us beforehand so it was always a surprise – and we would have a huge family meal with all our extended family.
My favorite Ramadhan Tradition is reading Surah Waqiah after Maghrib daily before sitting for our meal, as a family 🙂
loved getting up early and getting all dressed up and getting our special present from our parents! a $100 bill we could spend any way we wanted! We always went to a friends house for a giant buffet and bonus …no school!
Love the ‘mirrors and windows’ analogy. Thank you for putting the spotlight on diverse books – I never know where to look for these books for my little one. Your list is very helpful.