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Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2015: Indian Stories Book Review

Multiculturalism is essential to our children’s education.

In today’s global economy, I believe it is imperative that children learn about cultures around the world. And the books that our children read need to reflect those global cultures.

As a primary school teacher, I always looked for ways to integrate multiculturalism into the curriculum. I am a first-generation Canadian born to British-born parents. My brother and I traveled from infancy to visit family in England. Because we didn’t have family nearby, we also traveled to various countries overseas during holiday breaks.

Thanks to my parents, I gained appreciation for different cultures and developed a strong passion for incorporating global education into my classroom. This is why the yoga kid characters in our yoga stories are from six different continents. Now as a mom to a tri-cultural child, I continue to fulfill my passion by teaching my daughter about the world.

So, I’m thrilled to be a part of this year’s Multicultural Children’s Book Day celebration. The Multicultural Children’s Book Day’s mission is to promote children’s books that celebrate diversity and to get more of these of books into classrooms and libraries. Bloggers from around the world are matched up with book publishers to review their multicultural books.

Because yoga originated in India, I thought it would be fun to share an Indian book with you. I reviewed Indian Children’s Favorite Stories (Amazon affiliate link) by Rosemarie Somaiah and Ranjan Somaiah, published by Tuttle Publishing, aimed at 5- to 14-year-olds.

Indian Children’s Favorite Stories Book Review

The book contains eight Indian folktales, but today, I would love to share my favorite story, “Munna and the Grain of Rice”.

The illustrations in this story are authentic and engaging. The story is set in a small, impoverished Indian village, where the mean king makes the villagers give him control of all the rice in their fields. One day, a little girl named Munna brings the king rice that has fallen out of the rice sacks. To reward her honesty, the king offers her gold, silver, or jewels. Munna refuses the riches and asks for rice: one grain of rice on the first day then each following day, twice what she’d received the day before for a month. By the twenty-eighth day, Munna had 128 bags of rice and requested that the king distribute the rice fairly among the villagers. With her “clever head and truly generous heart,” Munna finds a way to trick the king and feed the villagers.

Indian Children's Favorite Stories by Tuttle Publishing

Why I loved this Indian folktale:

  • The girl is skilled at mathematical concepts.
  • A generous child can outsmart a greedy adult.
  • The little girl took it upon herself to solve the village’s problem.
  • Munna was rewarded for being honest.

Some extension ideas:

  • Talk to your child about the difference between their community and this impoverished village. The little girl has “never been to school and couldn’t afford any toys.” I talked to my daughter about what that would be like if she didn’t go to preschool and didn’t have any toys. It was an inspiring conversation, and the book is a great springboard to talk about how fortunate we are as a family.
  • Learn about India. Get out your maps and globes to show where India is in relation to where you live. You could do a mini research project to learn more about the history and culture of India. My husband and I got engaged while in India, and I showed my daughter pictures from our trip. She was entranced by the bright colors and different animals.
  • Incorporate character education into your studies. Talk about what it means to have a “clever head and a generous heart.” List and sort behaviors that embody thoughtful and kind qualities. Recently, we have been talking to my daughter about being helpful and friendly, so this book is a great extension of that focus. As a contrast, talk about what behaviors made the king a mean person.
  • Model the mathematical concepts detailed in the book. Use counters, Lego pieces, rice, or other manipulatives to show the numbers doubling (ex. 1, 2, 4, 8, 16). For the larger numbers, you may need to use paper and pencil to show the calculations with older children. And then you could follow the story and figure out how the rice was broken down into baskets when the amount of rice increased throughout the month.
  • Study the artistic illustrations. Look through the book with your children and point out the art drawn by an illustrator from India. Ask them what they notice about the images, in terms of color, design, and facial features. My daughter was especially curious about the monster-looking characters, which led to a discussion about real vs pretend.
  • Study folktales from various countries. After reading these Indian folktales, find folktales from other countries to compare and contrast. Tuttle Publishing also offers Children’s Favorite Stories books from China, Korea, Japan, and the Philippines.


Munna and the Grain of Rice (Indian Folktale) Munna and the Grain of Rice (Indian Folktale)

 Images from Indian Children’s Favorite Stories book

About Multicultural Children’s Book Day

The Multicultural Children’s Book Day’s mission is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these of books into classrooms and libraries.

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, Mia and Valarie are on a mission to change all of that. Their mission is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these types of books into classrooms and libraries. Another goal of this exciting event is create a compilation of books and favorite reads that will provide not only a new reading list for the winter, but also a way to expose brilliant books to families, teachers, and libraries.


Ways to Celebrate Multichildren Children's Book Day


Multicultural Children’s Book Day Sponsors:

MCCBD’s  2015 Sponsors include Platinum Sponsors: Wisdom Tales Press, Daybreak Press Global Bookshop, Gold SponsorsSatya House,  MulticulturalKids.com,   Author Stephen Hodges and the Magic Poof, Silver Sponsors: Junior Library Guild,  Capstone Publishing, Lee and Low Books,  The Omnibus Publishing. Bronze Sponsors:Double Dutch Dolls, Bliss Group Books, Snuggle with Picture Books Publishing,  Rainbow Books,   Author FeliciaCapers,   Chronicle Books   Muslim Writers Publishing ,East West Discovery Press.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day Non-Profit Collaborators:

First Book:  We’re also partnering with First Book to offer a Virtual Book Drive that will help donate multicultural children’s books through their channels during the week of the event. We want to help get diversity books into the hands of kids who most need it and now we have a way to do it! The Virtual Book Drive is LIVE and can be found HERE.

Children’s Book Council:  MCCBD is collaborating with Children’s Book Council to highlight wonderful diversity books and authors on an ongoing basis all year.

Multicultural Children’s  Book Day Social Media:

Follow Multicultural Children’s Book Day on Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day Resources:

Check out the Diversity Book Lists for Kids.  Browse through Multicultural Children’s Book Day’s new website.


About Kids Yoga Stories

My mission for Kids Yoga Stories is to bring education, health and happiness to young children everywhere.  My creative outlet for fulfilling my mission is to write and publish yoga stories for kids.

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