WETA.org

Start with a Book

Ricky Rocket

Books and activities for summer reading and learning from Reading Rockets

Start With a Book: Books and activities for summer reading and summer learning

Read. Talk. Explore!

At our house, we’ve always tried to keep summer reading social and low-key. With long, warm sunny days, there’s a little more time for TV, video games, bike rides, swimming and reading what you like.

Though telling my kids to read what they liked meant that I had to drop my preconceptions of what reading is and accept that they were more thoroughly engaged by online news articles, magazines, comic books, recipes, and even game trading cards. What made it work is that they had someone to talk with about what they were reading — no matter what it was — which helped them feel validated as readers even when their reading material of choice was not a book.

Having a time and place to talk with others about something you’ve read is a great way to invite readers to come together to build new knowledge and new understanding. That’s why I was very excited to talk recently with Mia Wenjen about her Multicultural Children's Book Club.

Mia blogs on parenting, children’s books, and education at PragmaticMom.com and is the co-creator of Multicultural Children’s Book Day, a nonprofit celebrating diversity in children’s books. She’s also the author of several books, including the sweet and funny picture book Sumo Jo. She’s passionate about representation in children's picture books and I’m excited she’s visiting Book Life to share that passion and share more about her book club! 

Rachael Walker

June 14, 2022

Why I Started a Free and Virtual Multicultural Children’s Picture Book Club by Mia Wenjen

Educator and children's book advocate Mia Wenjen

When my oldest child was in first grade, she was behind in reading. She was in a combined Kindergarten/first-grade class and the teacher had a chronic illness. There were substitute teachers for substitute teachers. By May, when I compared her class to the other first grade classes at her school, she was really behind.

One of my friends who used to teach elementary school suggested starting a book club for her. We invited four of her friends to join and made it a drop-off activity that rotated once a month so each kid could host it. The book club meeting included a snack and an activity related to the book.

My daughter is now in college, but she tells me that the book club was her favorite activity as a child. Now that my kids have graduated from their book clubs (yes, I did three of them!), I missed sharing my favorite books so I decided to start a Multicultural Children's Book Club. It is a free and virtual picture book club that meets on the first Thursday of the month at 7:00 pm EST and runs for an hour. I also host a giveaway that includes the picture book and assorted goodies that can include multicultural snacks, candy, or toys.

Our July book club will be held on July 7th to celebrate both National Clean Beaches Week (July 1-7)  and World Nature Conservation Day (July 28). We will be sharing We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom, illustrated by Michaela Goade. 

Promo for Multicultural Children's Books bookclub

Our book club will begin at 7:00 pm EST with introductions, followed by a short book talk that I host. At 7:20 pm EST, we will have a Native American speaker from Water Protector Legal Collective talk about ways that children can help protect our environment, especially our water (something I know Book Life readers are familiar with especially if you’ve taken advantage of the River Rangers or Bird Buddies toolkits)! 

Water bottle with illustration by Native American artist

Author Carole Lindstrom will join us our special guest starting at 7:40 pm EST! There will be opportunity for Q&A in this intimate child-friendly setting. At the end of our book club, we will announce the winner for our giveaway.

For my July giveaway, I found a water bottle by S'well decorated by a Native American artist! I am giving away the water bottle and picture book, We Are Water Protectors.

Multicultural Children's Book Day logo

If you don't win the giveaway, you can still get free diverse children's books through Multicultural Children’s Book Day, now in its 10th year. We are a nonprofit that puts diverse children's and young adult books into the hands of readers. We give away FREE books for our event held this coming year on Thursday, January 26, 2023. Registration to get free children’s and young adult multicultural books will begin in September. Sign up for our newsletter to get notified!

I hope you can join me on July 7th for We Are Water Protectors free and virtual picture book club. Happy reading this summer and all year long!

Join us!

July 7th at 7:00 pm EST
Free and Virtual
We Are Water Protectors Picture Book Club

Sign up here!

Past events

You can view our past events here.

More resources