It has been my pleasure to be a book reviewer for this year’s Multicultural Children’s Book Day (MCCBD). This opportunity to review a book was made possible by co-creators Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom and Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book/Audrey Press. The book I got to read was Leza Lowitz’s latest book, ‘Up from the Sea.” It is a fictional story about a Japanese teen named Kai and how his life changed in a matter of minutes after the March 2011 tsunami hits his town.
Lowitz’s book, written in verse, has been honored this month by BuzzFeed Books as one of the “Top 5 YA Books You Need to be Reading in January.” The critic’s endorsement is on-point and well deserved. Like the waves of the tsunami, we are moved through Kai’s struggles, pain, and desperation eventually to hope. Life and death is a heavy topic to deal with but Lowitz finds a way to remind us of the Japanese saying that “perseverance becomes its own kind of strength.”
This strength is shown to the reader through Lowitz’s ability to weave examples of daily Japanese life and traditions. As a parent and educator, reading this book has fostered in me a curiosity to know more about Japanese culture and Buddhist spirituality. They have a respect for life and the environment that makes me want to know more about them.
Based on this review, I would like to suggest the following activities to highlight the themes in the book:
1. Visit a local Buddhist Temple in your community, especially during the festivals mentioned throughout the book that celebrate life and death.
2. Create Wishing Strips for things that you and your family members are hoping for in the future as a visible way to support family members with their dreams and goals.
3. Write ‘thank you” notes to five people that have helped or influenced you over the past year to foster a sense of mindfulness about appreciating the people in your life.
4. Plant a vegetable or flower garden; the food and flowers gathered from the garden are a simple way to show appreciation by giving them away to family and friends.
5. Make a family tree to learn about past and present family members that will provide opportunities to reflect on family genealogy.
Even without the BuzzFeed endorsement, I would recommend this book to both teens and their parents. Lowitz gives her readers the courage to develop ways to create memories of the heart. It is these memories that will sustain us in times that may seem unbearable and at other times that help us celebrate life.
The MCCBD team’s mission 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.
Our amazing sponsors for Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2016 are listed below:
Platinum: Wisdom Tales Press * StoryQuest Books*Lil Libros
Gold: Author Tori Nighthawk*Candlewick Press
Silver: Lee and Low Books*Chronicle Books*Capstone Young Readers TTuttle Publishing ,NY Media Works, LLC/KidLit TV
Bronze: Pomelo Books* Author Jacqueline Woodson*Papa Lemon Books* Goosebottom Books*Author Gleeson Rebello*ShoutMouse Press*Author Mahvash Shahegh* China Institute.org*Live Oak Media
Multicultural Children’s Book Day has 12 amazing Co-Host and you can view them here.
All Done Monkey, Crafty Moms Share, Educators Spin on it, Growing Book by Book, Imagination Soup, I’m Not the Nanny, InCultural Parent, Kid World Citizen, Mama Smiles, Multicultural Kid Blogs, Spanish Playground
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.
What we could really use some help with is spreading the word to your teacher/librarian/classroom connections so we can get them involved in this program. There is no cost to teachers and classrooms and we’ve made the whole process as simple as possible. You can help by tweeting the below info:
Teachers! Earn a FREE #Multicultural Kids Book for Your Classroom! #teachers, #books #teacherlife http://ow.ly/UUy96
The Classroom Reading Challenge has begun! Teachers can earn a free diversity book! #teachers, #books http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/?p=1796