Multicultural Children’s Book Day Review: Child’s Play books

I am very excited to serve as a reviewer for Multicultural Children’s Book Day (MCBD), 2017!

Baby Toddler Book Club received six amazing multicultural books from ChildsPlayUsa®, which publishes many well known children’s books. I was thrilled when we received their books and was introduced to new diverse titles to review.

All About Clive Series (Age Range: 1-3 years):

     -Clive and his Art

     -Clive and his Babies

     -Clive and his Bags

     -Clive and his Hats

Books about Roma and Traveler communities and cultures (Age Range: 4-9 years): 

      – Ossiri and the Bala Mengro

      – Yokki and the Parno Gry

For each, I have provided a review and a related activity and snack that we (and you) could use for a Baby Toddler Book Club meeting.

All About Clive Series

I have been looking for books (specifically board books) for years that challenge the gender-stereotypes of boys, so when I received the All About Clive (Spanyol, 2016) series, I did a little happy dance! This amazing series features a boy, named Clive, participating in play activities that are common for boys, but rarely portrayed in books. Clive creates art, plays with baby dolls, carries around bags, and dresses up in hats. My boys have always loved playing in these ways, but I rarely find books illustrating boys doing these activities.

The books I found prior to the Clive series were either geared toward older children OR were about a boy dealing with being teased for participating in gender non-conforming play. As toddlers, I didn’t want my children to hear that they might get teased for playing with a doll or carrying a bag on one shoulder. When they get older, a book with a theme related to teasing may be more appropriate, especially if they face bullying, but for very young children, gender non-conforming behavior just needs to be represented as everyday play, like in the All About Clive series.

I also loved that Clive’s friends, Mina, Asif, and Jeffery are illustrated as racially diverse characters. What’s more? Asif wears glasses, the boys sometimes wear pink, and Clive plays with both a Black baby doll and a White baby doll. All of these demonstrate important racial, ability, and gender diversity. For all of these reasons, these books get an “A” grade from me!

Here’s how to use the books for a book club meeting:

Pick one. We rarely use more than one book per book club meeting. These are nice and short, great for read a-loud, but realistically, toddler attention span at a meeting is usually about one board book in length!

Use one of these activities (based on the book you choose):

Clive and his Art:

Activity: Set up an art table for the meeting (you might want to cover the table in newspaper) and put out paper, crayons, markers, glue, googly eyes, and glitter (like in the book). Let the kids create! Help the toddlers if needed, but let the activity be directed by the child.

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Snack: Make edible art! Give each child a piece of whole wheat bread. Fill an ice cube tray with milk. Pour a drop of food coloring in each cube to make different colors of “paint”. Using a clean (never-used) paint brush, allow your child to “paint” the bread with the milk-paint. When complete, toast the bread to brighten the colors. Adult, remove the bread from the toaster (it will be hot). For extra fun, spread a very thin layer of melted coconut oil on top and give your child unsweetened shredded coconut “glitter” to sprinkle (Clive likes glitter)! Clive also likes googly-eyes, so for even more book connections, purchase edible googly-eyes like THESE and give your child a few eyes to apply themselves (use cream cheese, a nut butter, or similar as an adhesive). The children can admire their creation and enjoy!

Clive and his Babies:

Activity: Ask each child to bring a doll or stuffed animal. At the meeting, make a baby bed. Have each member bring an empty shoe box (or larger box for a larger doll). Cover it with construction paper if desired (adults cut the construction paper, toddlers can help tape or glue to the box). Use scraps of fabric to for a baby blanket.  Ask the children to put their children to bed, just like Clive! Talk about their bedtime routine (sing songs, read books, give hugs, etc.) and help them pretend play the routine with their babies.

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Snack: Have a doll tea party! One of the most used toys in our house, by my boys, is a play tea set. It’s actually my go to “gift” (besides books of course)! For the meeting, ask each member to bring a tea cup, saucer, and teapot if they have one (if not, ask one person who has a set to bring for everyone). Lay a plastic table cloth on the floor or a low table to protect the surface. Set up the tea settings for the children and their dolls. Put a small amount of cool, mild herbal tea in the pot(s) or use water and set out small snacks (like cereal, puffs, berries, fruit or vegetable slices, etc.) that the children can eat and pretend to feed to their babies. Allow the children to pour their own tea and serve their own snacks. Have extra towels available!

Clive and his Bags:

Activity: Ask each family to bring a child-sized bag that they have at home OR purchase a small reusable bag for each child from a dollar store. Ahead of time, set up several “stations” with multiple of the same snack. For example, set up a station with little bags of crackers, set up another station that has multiple apples, set up another that has multiple cheese sticks etc. Each station should have enough of the snack for each child participant. Tell the children that they will go shopping for ONE of each item and put it in their bag. The children can take turns filling their shopping bags with the snack items. For older toddlers and pre-schoolers, create a list with pictures of the items and the words next to the items and ask them to get what is on the list. 

Snack: Allow the children to take the items out of the bags and enjoy their snack!

Clive and his Hats:

Activity: Ask families to bring a hat for their child to wear during the meeting. Make paper hats using the tutorial at East Coast Mommy Blog. Provide a variety of paper color options, glue sticks, tissue paper squares, and feathers for the children to use to decorate their hats. Set out a mirror so the children can see themselves wearing their hats!

Snack: Make two kinds of edible hats! First, make strawberry stocking caps. Cut the top/stem off of a strawberry and turn it upside down to create a triangle. Stick a toothpick through the strawberry and place a blueberry on the top (narrow end) to serve as the “pom pom” on top of the “hat”. Add a banana slice rim to the bottom. Make cucumber top hats using the recipe at Creative Food Snacks. To simplify this recipe (and since you don’t need it to look like a leprechaun hat), you can skip the bell pepper “buckle”. We also peeled our mini-cucumber. Give each child one hat each, but provide a few extras (or at least some extra fruits and veggies) since these make a small snack!

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Books about Romani and Traveler communities and cultures

I work hard to create a diverse home library for my children, but when I received two picture books about the Romani and Traveling people, I realized my home library had a major short-falling. We had no books about these communities as part of our collection and perhaps even more eye-opening for me, I realized we hadn’t even read any books about this culture (at least not recently). Yikes! Privilege can get in the way, even when we have the best intentions!  Thankfully, ChildsPlayUsa® has two beautiful new releases about the Gypsy, Romani, and Traveler communities written by Richard O’Neill and Katharine Quarmby. Ossiri and the Bala Mangro  (illustrated by Hannah Tolson, 2017) and Yokki and the Parno Gry (illustrated by Marieke Nelissen, 2017). Both books are traveler family folk stories with engaging illustrations that capture the folk elements of each story. My 5-year old couldn’t keep his hands off of these books. Ossiri and the Bala Mangro is about a Traveler girl who makes an instrument from recycled parts but is warned by her family not to wake the Bala Mengro (ogre) while playing it. Yokki and the Parno Gry is about a boy who tells the story of a mythical white horse. 

I love the story-telling nature of these books and the introduction to the Traveler and Romani culture. If your family is not Romani or Traveler and this is your first introduction to the culture, I think it’s important to emphasize with your child that these are folklore, so that they realize Romani and Traveler communities are real people who resemble the families in the book, but don’t have mythical horses and ogres as part of their everyday life (only in the form of stories)!

Here’s how to use the books for a book club meeting:

Pick one and use it for a “Big Kid Book Club” meeting (pre-schoolers or older). Ideally, these books would be perfectly paired with a meeting around a campfire! Perhaps consider meeting at a park with a fire pit or if you are very adventurous, take your book club on an overnight camping trip! Sit around the fire to read the book(s).

Ossiri and the Bala Mengro:

Activity: Provide the children with some recycled materials like cans (especially with ridges on the side), bottles, and/or boxes. Send the kids off in search of natural materials they can use to make an instrument (sticks, rocks, pine cones) and let them explore ways to use the natural materials and the recycled materials to make “music”. Have a jam session!

Snack: In the book, the Bala Mengro gives Ossiri some gold coins. For a treat, give the kids gold-wrapped chocolate coins, like THESE. For those who want to camp or spend more time with a campfire, consider cooking a meal over the fire!

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Yokki and the Parno Gry

Activity: Make a kid friendly version of paper flowers like Serafina in the book. There are many tutorials for tissue paper flowers, which are easy for kids to make, but Fiber Flux provides a nice tutorial with photographs.

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Snack: Eat apples and homemade bread around the fire as illustrated in the book. If you want to make a meal, make stew over the fire as shown in the book.

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Being a Multicultural Children’s Book Day (MCBD) reviewer has been such a pleasure and introduced us to some fabulous books! Look for us to incorporate these books into upcoming meetings! I hope you will do the same and share your experiences with us! Be sure to check out the amazing resources MCBD has on their website for parents and educators as well as the wonderful ChildsPlayUsa® books!

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Multicultural Children’s Book Day (MCBD) is in its fourth year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Their mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators. 

Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day holiday, the MCBD Team is on a mission to change all of that.

 Current Sponsors:  MCBD 2017 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board. Platinum Sponsors include Scholastic, Barefoot Books and Broccoli. Other Medallion Level Sponsors include heavy-hitters like Author Carole P. Roman, Audrey PressCandlewick Press Fathers IncorporatedKidLitTV, Capstone Young Readers, ChildsPlayUsa, Author Gayle Swift, Wisdom Tales Press, Lee& Low Books, The Pack-n-Go Girls, Live Oak Media, Author Charlotte Riggle, Chronicle Books and Pomelo Books

 Author Sponsor include: Karen Leggett AbourayaVeronica AppletonSusan Bernardo, Kathleen BurkinshawDelores ConnorsMaria DismondyD.G. DriverGeoff Griffin Savannah HendricksStephen HodgesCarmen Bernier-Grand,Vahid ImaniGwen Jackson,  Hena, Kahn, David Kelly, Mariana LlanosNatasha Moulton-LevyTeddy O’MalleyStacy McAnulty,  Cerece MurphyMiranda PaulAnnette PimentelGreg RansomSandra Richards, Elsa TakaokaGraciela Tiscareño-Sato,  Sarah StevensonMonica Mathis-Stowe SmartChoiceNationAndrea Y. Wang

 We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

MCBD Links to remember:

MCBD site: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/

Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrta

Free Kindness Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teachers-classroom-kindness-kit/

Free Diversity Book Lists and Activities for Teachers and Parents: http://bit.ly/1sZ5s8i

#ReadYourWorld.

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6 thoughts on “Multicultural Children’s Book Day Review: Child’s Play books

  1. I definitely want to check out all these books, they look great. I love seeing your son do the activities, especially having the tea party with the baby doll, that is just too cute.

  2. These books are sound wonderful! You’re right – these are stereotypes and communities that are often not addressed in children’s literature! Thanks for participating in Multicultural Children’s Book Day!

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