“Daddy, daddy, look- I finally found one!” My daughter Savannah yelled to me in the middle of the Barnes and Noble bookstore. You see, a few months earlier my lovely wife and I decided that we were going to infuse Kwanzaa into our family holiday celebrations. The only problem was that we both grew up in homes where Kwanzaa was not celebrated, so we took it upon ourselves to research and discover all the elements of celebrating the historic holiday.
During our time studying common Kwanzaa customs and rituals, we discovered that unwrapped “zawadi” (which is Swahili for gifts) should be given to our children. The gifts must also be beneficial to improving children’s cultural development and growth. My idea for providing zawadi to our children was to buy them books with African-American characters. Which brings us back to my daughter yelling at the top of her lungs in Barnes and Noble. She was screaming out of excitement and pure joy because we had been searching for multicultural children’s books for the past two hours at a various book stores in our community. Unfortunately, the book we found was the only one that had a character of color in the entire store. The joyful expression my daughter had on her face when she discovered that book transformed into pure frustration for me.
I unknowingly assumed that buying multicultural children’s books at a mainstream bookstore would be an easy process. I was wrong. Not only did we have to search harder for multicultural children’s books at every store we visited, we also had to check with store associates for independently published books which, in most cases, were not available. I drove home with my family in utter disbelief. Instead of giving up altogether, I switched gears to my last resort of purchasing multicultural children’s books on the internet.
A couple weeks after Kwanzaa, I spoke to my wife about my frustrations of not being able to find more books with characters our children could identify with at our local bookstores. My wife listened to me, shrugged then gave me the best advice I ever received. She said “Why don’t you just write a book for the kids?” She spoke those words with such nonchalance but she was 100% correct!
I had never wrote a children’s book in my life so I had no idea where to start. One thing I did have was over 12 years of experience writing rhymes and poetry but that decreased drastically after our children were born. I did additional research on how to write a book and get published, and after two years, I was finally able to publish my first children’s book (Which is ironically available at Barnes & Noble)
So my suggestion to you if you can’t find multicultural children’s books at your local book store would be to do the following things:
- Search the internet- There are many dedicated sites that have expansive selections of Multicultural books.
- Search local used book stores- There are so many hidden treasures waiting to be discovered!
- Exchange books with fellow parents, coworkers, and family members– Because that’s what friends are for!
- Review and purchase books recommended by the MCCBD – For obvious reasons!
Following these tips should help you out if you are experiencing challenges finding multicultural books for your kids or students at local book stores. If that doesn’t work, you may want to do what I did and write a book for your kids. Good luck conquistadors!
Ruben is an educator by day and an author by night. His love for writing was sparked by his passion for reading. As a young child, Ruben was captivated by the knowledge and adventures he experienced every time that he opened a book. Ruben possesses a Master’s Degree in K-12 Education Administration and his motto that he shares with young children is “Readers are Leaders”.You can connect with Ruben on Facebook & Twitter at:
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