On any given day, you may hear as many as six different languages spoken in my home.
I am Valarie Budayr, a children’s book author & publisher, reading & play advocate and reading activist who is committed to diversity in children’s books.
My life and household has been diverse and multicultural for as long as I can remember. As the daughter of parents who emigrated from Sweden, I have been immersed in Nordic culture since childhood. As a child I attended German/English schools and as an adult I continued learning even more languages for a grand total of six (English, Swedish, French, Arabic, German, Japanese, plus working knowledge in a few others.)
I am also a wife to a Lebanese/Muslim man and am raising Lebanese-American children post 9/11. I may look like an All-American girl, but my multicultural roots run deep and I have been committed to raising my children as global citizens since the day they were born. As a family we speak Arabic, French, and English in our home and travel often to give our children exposure to people and various cultures on the globe.
Literacy has played a huge roll in my family. We are a family of avid book readers, however it has been very difficult to find books that have characters who are like my children, global citizens with a diverse and varied background.
I am passionate about making kid’s books come alive on my website Jump into a Book, where we creating moments for adults and children to share together while bringing the books they’re reading to life. I am the author of The Fox Diaries: The Year the Foxes Came to our Garden, The Ultimate Guide To Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, A Year in The Secret Garden and my own book with multicultural characters; Dragons are Real!
Because my children are 1/4 Japanese-American, 1/4 Chinese-American and 1/2 Korean American, I personally sought out books for my kids where they could see themselves; something that I didn’t have growing up despite being a bookworm who read every single biography and fiction chapter book in my Southern California elementary school library.
I’m Mia Wenjen and I blog at PragmaticMom. I love children’s books. Blogging on KidLit for the past five years made me realize that there simply isn’t enough representation of kids of color in children’s literature. And, of the books that do exist, they don’t get the exposure they need and deserve.
I made it my mission two years ago to dedicate my blogging efforts to promote children’s authors of color, and, in proclaiming my personal goal, found may other people who agree. Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book was one of those people. She proposed creating a day to celebrate multicultural books for kids one day over Skype and thus Multicultural Children’s Book Day was born.
With each year, Valarie and I want to find ways to get multicultural books into the hands of under-served kids who most need them. We are delighted that you are here to help us celebrate! Thank you!