Positively Penelope – Reading Diverse Books

When our kids read books from other perspectives, they gain empathy, understanding, and resilience when they face difficulties.

Our family has been intentional in seeking out diverse literature, both from a multicultural perspective as well as simply finding stories of characters, both biographical and fictional, who have lived various life experiences. Because of that, when I had the opportunity to review a book for Multicultural Children’s Book Day, I jumped at the chance.

Last year, we reviewed a book about a young Chinese American boy visiting his family in mainland China, and this year, we were matched with a delightful author and book about a girl named Penelope who uses a wheelchair to get around. We received the book for free in exchange for a review. No further compensation was provided.

Positively Penelope: A Day at the Races by Brianna Carter

My kids, who are 8 and 11, really got into the story. It centers around a girl named Penelope who wishes she could race like her classmates, her friends, and how they rally the neighborhood to come together and find a way for her to experience the thrill of competition. It’s a heartwarming tale that causes the reader to connect with the characters, to feel their joy and frustration, and celebrate the happy ending.

From a diversity perspective, we see Penelope grappling with what she can and can’t participate in, but instead of guilt-inducing poor-me attitudes, we see a main character with reslience, complex emotions, and a neighborhood that rallies around her once they see the opportunity. My kids were able to put themselves in her shoes and think from her perspective – this book humanized a wheelchair-bound individual for them in a healthy and important way.

I love that Penelope was the center of her own story. She was portrayed as a multidimensional character who had a goal, experienced setbacks, but with the help of family and friends was able to see it through.

Questions to Help Develop Empathy

  • What would it be like to go to school in a wheelchair?
  • How is Jimmy a good friend?
  • If Penelope were my friend, how could I help her feel included?
  • Is there a time I felt excluded? What was that like? How did I feel?
  • What made Penelope feel proud during the race? What else did she feel?

It’s very important that we see ourselves in these characters, that instead of feeling bad or simply having sympathy, that we see ourselves in them, and them in us.

Check out below for more links to other authors and giveaways!!!

Multicultral Childrens' Book Day 2022 Book Reviewer

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2022 (1/28/22) is in its 9th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those books into the hands of young readers and educators.

MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves. Read about our Mission & History HERE.

MCBD 2022 is honored to be Supported by these Medallion Sponsors!


PLATINUM: Language Lizard

GOLD: Barefoot Books, KidLitTV, Candlewick, Capstone, Abrams Books

SILVER: Pack-n-Go Girls, Charlotte Riggle, Kimberly Gordon Biddle  

BRONZE: Carole P. Roman, Patrice McLaurin, Dyesha and Triesha McCants/McCants Squared, Redfin.com, Redfin Canada, Redfin Mortgage, Redfin/Title Forward, Create & Educate, Star Bright Books, Vivian Kirkfield, Dr. Eleanor Wint, Kind World Publishing, Snowflake Stories, Lisa Wee, SONGJU MA, Melissa Stoller, J.C. Kato and J.C.², Crystel Patterson, Audrey Press, Pragmaticmom, TimTimTom, Wisdom Tales 

MCBD 2022 is honored to be Supported by these Author Sponsors!

Charlene Mosley (official MCBD2022 Poster Creator)
Illustrator Isabelle Roxas (Class Kit Poster Creator)

Alva Sachs, Brianna Carter, Ebony Zay Zay, Rita Bhandari, Gwen Jackson, Lois Petren/The 5 Enchanted Mermaids, Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, Josh Funk, Afsaneh Moradian, Eugenia Chu, Maritza Martínez Mejía, Diana Huang, Kathleen Burkinshaw, CultureGroove, Sandra Elaine Scott, Dorena Williamson, Veronica Appleton, Alejandra Domenzain, Lauren Muskovitz and Sandfish Publishing, Tonya Duncan Ellis, Kimberly Lee, Susan Schaefer Bernardo & Illustrator Courtenay Fletcher, Nancy Tupper Ling, Winsome Hudson-Bingham, Amanda Hsiung-Blodgett, Sivan Hong, Michael Genhart, Debbie Dadey, Elizabeth Cureton, Stephanie Wildman, Maryann Jacob, Sherri Maret, Rochelle Melander, Dia Mixon, Kiyanda and Benjamin Young, Shereen Rahming, Linda Thornburg and Katherine Archer,  Rebecca Flansburg and BA Norrgard , Maxine Schur  Natalie McDonald-Perkins

MCBD 2022 is Honored to be Supported by our CoHosts and Global CoHosts!

MCBD 2022 is Honored to be Supported by these Media Partners!

Check out MCBD’s Multicultural Books for Kids Pinterest Board!

FREE RESOURCES from Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Diversity Book Lists & Activities for Teachers and Parents

Homeschool Diverse Kidlit Booklist & Activity Kit

FREE Teacher Classroom Activism and Activists Kit

FREE Teacher Classroom Empathy Kit

FREE Teacher Classroom Kindness Kit

FREE Teacher Classroom Physical and Developmental Challenges Kit

FREE Teacher Classroom Poverty Kit

FREE Homeschool Diverse Kidlit Booklist & Activity Kit

FREE Teacher Classroom Raising Awareness on Systemic Racism in America Classroom Kit

Gallery of Our Free Posters

FREE Diversity Book for Classrooms Program

Join us on Friday, Jan 28, 2022, at 9 pm EST for the 8th annual Multicultural Children’s Book Day Twitter Party! Be sure and follow MCBD and Make A Way Media on Twitter!

This epically fun and fast-paced hour includes multicultural book discussions, addressing timely issues, diverse book recommendations, & reading ideas.

We will be giving away an 8-Book Bundle every 5 minutes plus Bonus Prizes as well! *** US and Global participants welcome. **

Follow the hashtag #ReadYourWorld to join the conversation, connect with like-minded parts, authors, publishers, educators, organizations, and librarians. See you all very soon on Twitter!

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

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