Valarie Budayr

She loves to read and she loves to write and she encourages others, especially children, to do the same.

Maryville’s Valerie Budayr, a children’s book author and blogger, started Multicultural Children’s Book Day last year to raise awareness for the children’s books that celebrate diversity. In its first year, there were 70 bloggers who participated and offered reviews of multicultural books that are out there for children ages preschool through high school. It all takes place next Tuesday, Jan. 27 on the website Parents and teachers will find a diversity book list and resource guide there as well.

The online virtual event is definitely catching on, Budayr said. She has partnered with Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom to create this national event. It was something that was definitely needed, this mom and author said.

Twenty years ago, there really weren’t any books that featured multicultural families. Today, the population of this country is changing and many diverse backgrounds are represented.

“In the United States, 37 percent of the population is of a multicultural nature,” Budayr said. “But only 10 percent of all children’s books published are written from that perspective.”

If children do not relate to the characters in the book, many times they don’t have an interest in reading it, she said. “They are inspired to read about people like them.”

This year, Budayr and Wenjen have 17 sponsors where there were just four last year. Both of these women also blog about children’ books. Wenjen lives in Chicago. Budayr moved to Maryville 18 years ago. Her husband is Dr. Mahdi Budayr.

The goal besides raising awareness about the books that are available is to also get more of these books into classrooms and libraries.

To do that, Multicultural Children’s Book Day as partnered with First Book to offer a virtual book drive that will help donate children’s books through their channels next week.

MCCBD has teamed up with the Children’s Book Council as well to highlight multicultural/diverse authors and illustrators.

On Jan. 27 along with the blog tour, there will be a Twitter Party hosting big book package giveaways from sponsors and authors as well as other book donations given by several publishers. The Twitter Party will be open from 9 to 10 p.m. using hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

Budayr is a best-selling children’s author of “The Fox Diaries.” She is passionate about making children’s books come alive and has her own website, Jump into a Book.

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