Filling Your Child’s World With Color


Father reading book to daughter

There is a new level of understanding of the role of race in adoption. We now understand that color blindness is both a myth and a folly. Instead, adoptive families must remove the blinders and have the courage to talk about race in myriad ways. Books offer an easy way of opening and exploring these conversations.

It is a truism that books serves as both mirrors and windows–mirrors of our child’s particular experience and windows onto the wider world. We must include books that perform both tasks. Share books that reflect our child’s life and books that also reveal alternate communities, cultures and, experiences. The first type of book connects children to their own world, helps them to understand and function in it. The second type showcase people, places and activities that are different. Reading such books expand  children’s horizons, nurture empathy and allay fears of difference.

global babies.2Humans beings tend to fear that which is different and unfamiliar. Technology and the internet have exploded the old confines of living in a small world. It is important to help our children develop the ability to live in the global world that is their reality.

Commit to choosing books that include a range of characters. Explore stories about other cultures. As reported in this CNN article, the American Academy of Pediatricians advises parents to read daily to their children from birth! We can begin fulfilling this intentional commitment to diversity even when reading with our babies!

Global Babies by the Global Fund for Children is a sweet board book that features close-up photographs of babies’ faces, each from a different country around the world. Global Babies is my five-month-old grandson’s favorite book. He squeals with delight with each page turn.

Whose toes.51nLIrSf+3L._AA160_Whose knees.3.51+A-sReFuL._AA160_Charmingly illustrated by LeUyen Pham, two books written by Jabari Asim: Whose Toes Are Those? and Whose Knees Are These? connect with my grandson in two ways: they mirror his world because like most babies, he has toes and knees and has experienced the activities depicted in the book. Since the illustrations feature African-American characters, the books also serve as a window onto another culture, thus blending both the familiar and the different. (Since both author and illustrator are not Caucasian, these two books offer an added diversity bonus!)

Peekaboo Morning.51UIgUdfHpL._AA160_Peekaboo is a universal game so it is not surprising that my grandson also enjoy Peekaboo Morning by author-illustrator, Rachel Isadora. The illustrations primarily feature an African-American family but also include the toddler’s friend who is Caucasian.

These four board books have universal appeal and make a fabulous and important addition to the family library and help lay the foundation for multiculturalism early in a child’s life.


“Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas”– A Twisted Fairy Tale

In Natasha Yim’s picture book, Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas, a familiar fairy tale is retold through a Chinese cultural lens and presents readers with a delightful riff on the traditional Goldilocks yarn. All the basic memes appear: the bowls of porridge, the chairs and the beds but with an Asian twist. Several elements of Chinese culture appear scattered throughout the story: Chinese New Year,  turnip cakes fried to perfection, red envelops, almond cookies, dumplings and so much more. Illustrator Grace Yong uses bright acrylics to bring the story to life. Subtle details reinforce the Chinese flavor of the story.

The ending delivers a delightful surprise: Goldy Luck returns to the “scene of the crime” to make things right. Her effort is warmly received and she becomes friends with Little Chan.

The Author’s Note at the end of the story includes additional information about the Chinese Zodiac and the traditions surrounding Chinese New Year holiday observances which follow the lunar calendar. I rate Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas five stars


magnifying lens AQ.2AQ Lens: Young readers will immediately recognize the Goldilocks similarity in  Goldy Luck and the Three Pandasand will enjoy this ethnic spin on the familiar tale. This book highlights the fun and richness of experiencing the ordinary and familiar through a new lens. The difference transforms and enlivens the tale.

It is an easy segue into discussions about what other parts of an adoptive family are fundamentally the same yet different.  Talking points can highlight that different does not mean less than or better than but simply different. Difference can be seen as an added facet, like the way sugar enlivens the taste of food.

Zong’s detailed illustrations invite exploration as readers search for the cultural spin on the ordinary backdrop of daily life. Challenge them to find something in every illustration. Ask them to imagine Goldilocks meeting Goldy Luck and have them tell you what the two might say and do.

A Full Moon Is Rising focuses on other moon festivals around the world and introduces children to a broader, world-wide sense of how people celebrate feasts and festivals. Commonalities and differences abound–we all celebrate events and cycles, we simply accomplish the observances in different ways. Once again, difference is served up as something to be appreciated instead of scorned.

Marilyn Singer’s poems which vary in style and length capture the flavor of the culture being highlighted. Julia Cairns’ watercolor illustrations create a dreamy mood and complement the poetry well.  As with any good picture book, the illustrations invite exploration for details that are not specifically stated in the text. I rate A Full Moon Is Rising four stars


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AQ Lens: Young readers respond to poetry and can find connection in this lovely book  as they recall celebrating various holidays, festivals and family traditions in their own families. Adoptive families can further their discussions by talking about the many ways adoptive families observe adoption-connected events.

(Parents should keep in mind that some adoptees find celebrations of their birthdays, arrival days, etc., to be emotional landmines. Some kids like to celebrate; others find themselves very stressed by them. And sometimes, they don’t even recognize the adoption connection as the trigger. Parents will need to be sensitive to this possibility. Please read another blog I wrote on Homecoming/Gotcha Day for additional discussion. )


Cinderella Around the World

family readingFairy tales are a perennial favorite with children. They appear in all cultures. Infused with regional/national flavor and history, they hold common elements. They offer an easy and effective way of broadening your child’s involvement in the greater world. (This is important as technology shrinks our modern world and increasingly reinforces our connection as citizens of the world.)


The Cinderella tale, for example has been shared through the generations around the world. While young readers will recognize the fundamental similarities, they will also be fascinated–perhaps even surprised–to see the myriad ways in which the tale can be tweaked. In addition to cultural nuances,  some Cinderella tales spin a yarn with a male hero. This provides a fun and unexpected twist and demonstrates another way in which difference can be embraced instead of feared.

Cendrillon.Caribbean Cinderella.61BFZ1ecydL._SX463_BO1,204,203,200_

Reading several versions of a tale like Cinderella, can also jump start a child’s imagination and help him to understand there isn’t necessarily only one “right” way for things to be. Why not explore the world through Cinderella’s tale? You’ll find many chances to talk about your child’s beliefs about magical solutions, persistence, kindness, bullying etc. These are important topics that you will want to be intentional about nurturing and shaping.


Some versions of Cinderella infuse the tale with Cindy Ellen. American West Cinderella.61nQJOTv9IL._SY417_BO1,204,203,200_

regional flavor like, The Salmon Princess: An Alaskan Cinderella, or Cindy-Ellen: A Wild West Cinderella, or Smokey Mountain Rose: An Appalachian Cinderella



Appalachian Cinderella.518tfdZW0XL._SX367_BO1,204,203,200_Others recast the story the tale in a contemporary light, like Cinder-Elly which is a rap-type retelling with an urban setting. Check out the book cover array for additional suggestions. Invite your child to create his/her own version of the tale. Will the hero be male or female? Contemporary or from times past? Set locally or in a more exotic land? Have fun!

Perhaps your child will rewrite the story so that Cinderella creates her own solution instead of being rescued. Start the project and see where it leads you.


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AQ Lens. As I’ve consistently written, adoptive families live with the duality of being seen as both the same and different from biologically formed families. Reading versions on a Cinderella theme can easily segue into conversations about how one’s adoptive family is also a variation of a family–not better or less than–yet none-the-less different. Children may share some of their complex feelings about this “different-ness.” Such big feelings are a lot for a child to shoulder alone. A book that helps kids bring their thoughts into the open and get the support they need is well worth reading.

As you read stories that differ culturally, read with a sharp eye for any bias in the texts and/or illustrations. This too,is an important lesson: look at things with a judicious eye and do not accept something simply because it is in print, on-line, etc. Start early to teach your children to be savvy, critical thinkers.

Rough-face Girl.41PgXz2z3jL._SX380_BO1,204,203,200_

Golden sandal.61FQFW87XTL._SY473_BO1,204,203,200_

Egyptian Cinderella.61WHLPPrxWL._SX389_BO1,204,203,200_






Adelita. Mexican Cinderella.51A6Y827nOL._SX390_BO1,204,203,200_Anklet for a Princess. India Cinderella.510X4AQ7B8L._SY390_BO1,204,203,200_

Domitila.Mexican Cinderella.513558DVPKL._SX354_BO1,204,203,200_

Abedaha.Philipine Cinderella.61D-X4LuYZL._SX402_BO1,204,203,200_

The Legend of Robert Cofresi: A Puerto Rican Hero

Robert Cofresi

The Legend of Roberti Cofresí: A Puerto Rican Hero is the second book which award-winning author Janet Balletta has written. Artist Estella Mejia illustrated both books in a colorful primitive style reminiscent of children’s drawings. Kids will enjoy the tale of the swashbuckling anti-hero Roberto Cofresí from Puerto Rico. Like Robin Hood, he confiscated treasure from the wealthy and shared it with those in need. Legend says the people of Puerto Rico conspired to help him avoid capture from the authorities. Today, Cofresí is revered in Puerto Rica as a popular hero.

Young readers will enjoy learning about Cofresí’s adventuring on the seas, seizing treasure and burying it. Some might imagine themselves as treasure hunters seeking Cofresí’s still undiscovered hidden treasure. Such grand adventures might spark an interest in acquiring the science.

Hispanic families will enjoy sharing this piece of their cultural history with their children. Anyone interested in broadening their multicultural awareness will also find The Legend of Roberti Cofresí: A Puerto Rican Hero an entertaining title to include on their child’s bookshelf.




Janet BallettaJanet’s author profile from Amazon: Janet was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Colombian and Puerto Rican parents. She was raised Catholic, grew up in Queens, and moved to West Palm Beach, Florida in 1993. She graduated from Barry University with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and American College of Education with master’s degree in Educational Leadership. Janet worked as an Administrative Assistant and K-2 ESOL Teacher for Palm Beach County Schools from 1993 to 2006. She currently lives and works as a bilingual second-grade teacher in Port St. Lucie, FL. Janet was inspired to write her first children’s book, The Legend of the Colombian Mermaid by her two daughters who also love mermaids. She recently won the Mariposa Award from the International Latino Book Awards for The Legend of the Colombian Mermaid translated into Spanish as La Leyenda de la Sirena Colombiana. It was also nominated for the Christian Literary Awards in November 2015. She launched her second children’s book, The Legend of Roberto Of Cofresi – A Puerto Rican Hero, a pirate story in Fall 2015. Janet is passionate about literacy and hopes her books will inspire children to develop an appreciation for bilingual and multicultural literature.

The Legend of the Columbian MermaidColumbian mermaid


Multicultural Children’s Book Day has 12 amazing Co-Hosts. View them here.

MCBD Mission St.

The Mission of Multicultural Children’s Book Day is: to spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of diversity in children’s literature. Our young readers need to see themselves within the pages of a book and experience other cultures, languages, traditions and religions within the pages of a book. We encourage readers, parents, teachers, caregivers and librarians to follow along the fun book reviews, author visits, event details, a multicultural children’s book linky and via our hashtag (#ReadYourWorld) on Twitter and other social media.



Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2016 Medallion Level Sponsors!

Patinum: Wisdom Tales PressStory Quest Books, Lil Libros

Gold: Author Tori Nighthawk, Candlewick Press

Silver: Lee and Low Books, Chronicle Books, Capstone Young Readers

Bronze: Pomelo Books, Author Jacqueline Woodson, Papa Lemon BooksGoosebottom Books, Author Gleeson Rebello, Shout Mouse Press, Author Mahvash Shahegh, China

Multicultural Children’s Book Day has 12 amazing Co-hosts and you can view them here.

Teachers, we invite you to spread the word to your teacher/librarian/classroom connections so; get them involved in this program. There is no cost to teachers and classrooms. You can help by tweeting the below info:

Teachers! Earn a FREE #MULTICULTURAL Kids Book for Your Classroom! #teachers, #books #teacherlife

The Classroom Reading Challenge has begun! Teachers can earn a free #Diversity book! #teachers, #books

Classroom Reading Challenge:Help spread the word on our  Classroom Reading Challenge . This very special offering from MCCBD offers teachers and classrooms the chance to (very easily) earn a free hardcover multicultural children’s book for their classroom library. These books are not only donated by the Junior Library Guild, but they are pre-screened and approved by them as well.