Valarie and I are gearing up for Multicultural Children’s Book Day on January 27th, 2017, so I thought this might be a good time to explain what I perceive to be the differences between two different but similar groups: Multicultural Children’s Book Day and We Need Diverse Books.
In a business analogy, one is a scrappy start-up. The other is a well-funded corporate entity, though, both organizations, in fact, are non-profits.
Let’s start at the beginning (a very good place to start)…
When Did It All Begin?
Multicultural Children’s Book Day was conceived in August of 2013. Valarie saw that I was re-focusing my efforts on promoting diversity books in response to Lee and Low’s report that the number of children’s books of a diverse nature has not changed over the last fourteen years, and asked me if I wanted to join her in starting a holiday to promote. Our first event was Multicultural Children’s Book Day on January 27th, 2014 where we raised about $3k. We used this money for a part-time admin and to set up a non-profit and a website. Our revenues have doubled every year, allowing us to give away more books.
We Need Diverse Books started in April 2014 by young adult author Ellen Oh. They ran a successful Indigogo campaign that raised $333k in 2014. Their event is a forthcoming Diversity Children’s and YA Book Tradeshow Conference.
Who Are The Founders?
Multicultural Children’s Book Day Founders
There is probably a reason why Valarie and I gravitate toward the word “multicultural.” Valarie was born and raised in Sweden and speaks five languages including Arabic. Her husband is a Lebanese surgeon. Her children speak Arabic at home and live a multicultural life. For example, her son spent the summer fasting in celebration of Ramadan and then working on the island that Thor is purported to be buried in as a camp counselor for Viking Camp. That’s where Swedish kids learn to live like Vikings … blacksmithing, sword fighting and all! And, of course, her son worked the camp speaking fluent Swedish.
I’m half Chinese and half Japanese American. My father immigrated from mainland China before the Cultural Revolution to study at UCLA. My mother was born in San Francisco’s Japantown and was forced to relocate during WWII. My husband was born in Korea, so my kids are Chinese/Japanese/Korean American “mixed plates.” (My husband played golf for the University of Hawaii, hence the pidgin reference.) I grew up in Southern California and now live outside of Boston.
Both Valarie and I have entrepreneurial backgrounds. Valarie is the founder of Audrey Press, a publishing company founded from a passionate desire to inspire children, families, and communities to experience, discover, and create a world together through the power of books.
Valarie and I work on a volunteer basis for Multicultural Children’s Book Day. We have a part time paid project manager, Becky of FranticMommy who is our “chief elf.”
We Need Diverse Books Founder
Ellen Oh is a Korean American young adult and middle grade author who grew up in New York City. She attended law school at Georgetown and practiced law before changing careers as a writer.
How Is Their Focus Different?
Multicultural Children’s Book Day is a celebration of diversity in existing children’s books. We highlight multicultural books in order to get them more attention and help educators and parents find the exact, specific books they need. Much of the content that is created by our group of education bloggers focuses on literacy, book extension ideas, and combating racism by exposing young children to diversity books. Thus, our focus is getting books into the hands of children who need them most. We do this through programs in which we give thousands of books away to teachers and parents. In fact, after we pay for admin costs, the money we raise is mostly used for postage and handling to give away books.
We Need Diverse Books seeks to change children’s book publishing by getting more diversity books published and marketed to consumers. Their programs include author mentorships, diversity book awards, promoting diversity books in the classroom through their partnership with Scholastic Books. They have also given away hundreds of diversity children’s books.
Who is Their Core Constituency?
Multicultural Children’s Book Day
Education and children’s book bloggers make up the core constituency of Multicultural Children’s Book Day. Over a dozen support the organization as co-hosts, lending their vast social media networks and blog audiences to the cause. Last year, an additional 180 bloggers participated by reviewing and blogging on a diversity book in celebration of Multicultural Children’s Book Day.
In all, there were more than 3.6 BILLION social media share impressions last year during the week of the event in 2017 that reached parents interested in education, particularly moms. We use the hashtag #ReadYourWorld.
We Need Diverse Books
We Need Diverse Books management team is organized into an Executive Team, Team Members, Liaisons, Friends, and an Advisory Committee that is predominately young adult and children’s book authors. Their hashtage #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign garnered over 100k tweets during their three day fundraising period. Their hashtags include #WNDB and #DiverseBooks.
What Resources Do They Provide?
Multicultural Children’s Book Day has an extensive index of children’s book resources by our blogging community of diversity books and activities for kids.
Diversity Book Lists and Activities for Teachers and Parents
This is List of Lists so you can find the books you need. Every blue title is a link to more book lists on that topic. Let us know if you are having trouble finding anything (pragmaticmomblog gmail) and we will try to help.
Our Diverse World Book Lists for Kids (this is a general book list)
It’s also broken out by country/geographic area:
- Our Diverse World: Africa
- Our Diverse World: Asia
- Our Diverse World: Armenia
- Our Diverse World: Australia
- Our Diverse World: China
- Our Diverse World: India
- Our Diverse World: Japan
- Our Diverse World: Korea
- Our Diverse World: Latin America
- Our Diverse World: Mexico
- Our Diverse World: Middle East
- Our Diverse World: Scandinavia
Diversity in Children’s Books Presented as Every Day (this is a book list)
Books on World Religions for Kids (this is a book list)
It’s also broken out by holiday and/or religion.
- Diverse Thanksgiving Books for Kids
- Diverse Christmas Books for Kids
- Muslim Books for Kids
- Jewish Books for Kids
- Hindu Books for Kids
- Buddhist Books for Kids
- Confucianism & Taoism Books for Kids
- Baha’i Books for Kids
- Day of the Dead Books for Kids
- Las Posadas Books for Kids
Seeing Yourself in Children’s Books
- Special Needs Books for Kids
- LGBT Book Lists for Kids of All Ages
- African American Books for Kids of All Ages
- American Indian Books for Kids of All Ages
- Asian American Books for Kids of All Ages
- Hispanic American Books for Kids of All Ages
Diversity Books By Genre
- Diverse Board Books
- Diverse Picture Books
- Diverse Easy Readers & Early Chapter Books
- Diverse Chapter Books
- Diverse Biography Picture Books
- Diverse Graphic Novels
- Diverse Fantasy and Science Fiction for Kids
- If You Like This: Read This Diversity Book for Kids
- Bilingual Books for Kids
General Diversity Book Lists (this is a book list)
We Need Diverse Books has a flowchart of books that they recommend, many of which are written by their management team members.
Who Should I Support?
Each organization is fighting the same fight which is to say ultimately getting diversity books into the hands of children. Support us both!
p.s. Our Battle Scars in the Fight Against Racism
I think each of the founders of both groups has battled racism in a profound way. Valarie lives in Tennessee and when she encounters racism from the pulpit, she tackles it head-on. Not only does she confront the minister who preaches hate, but she also organizes service work for both groups (the attacked and the attackers) to do together to build a bridge of understanding. They refer to her as a Valkyrie where she lives.
When my local high school put on an anti-Asian racist musical, I used blogging and social media for a solid month to draw awareness to this issue, resulting in a front page article in The Boston Globe, with four subsequent follow-up articles, and a slew of blog posts including support from Angry Asian Man.
Ellen Oh battled the ugliest of bullies, the social media troll.
Yes, this is my new twitter handle. The old one
@elloecho was deleted due to online harassment. But I won’t let that happen again.
BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.