The Trouble with Dilly… and the rest of us

I think very little about my kids being brown, except when the cashier at the grocery store checks through my husband, my sister-in-law, and my children, and then asks if she can help me, separately. Or when my kids say their friends couldn’t believe they would actually eat cold fried rice and dried fish for lunch. Or when my daughter’s new friend looks at me and says, “THAT’s your mom? Are you ‘dopted?”

Really, I’ve only been mistaken for the babysitter a handful of times and I have to admit, my children look nothing like me. I have all recessive genes.

But when my daughter reads The Trouble with Dilly, by Rachna Gilmore, and says it’s the best, best, best book she’s ever, ever read, and then I read the first few pages and learn about the samosa shop, I have to wonder… is it fair that 99% of the books my daughter reads feature milky-white protagonists? At most, there’s a token brown-skinned sidekick.

I’m as at-fault for this as anyone. I don’t have any Burmese girl main characters to my name. It’s a sad state of affairs. After scanning through the Paper Tigers website yesterday, I’ve resolved to start stocking the house with more multiculturalism.

As for The Trouble with Dilly, it’s well worth a read no matter what shade your kids are. It’s a lovely book, in any colour.

Rain School

I received a lovely prize package this week from Paper Tigers. I’m not sure how I became eligible for this prize, but I think it was through my immense talent for clicking “like” on Facebook pages. (I’m especially clever that way.)

Paper Tigers is an organization that fosters literacy and multi-cultural respect through books. They do many, many impressive things: run a website packed with reviews and recommendations for multicultural children’s titles; donate books to struggling schools and libraries all over the world; and work with small communities to ensure clean drinking water.

Needless to say, I’m feeling a little unworthy to receive this prize. I’ve donated the books to my children’s school, along with some Paper Tigers info. But we did read them first!

My personal favourite was Rain School, by James Rumford, about a little boy on his way to school for the first time, in Chad. He arrives to find that he will have to help build the school before he can attend, and then the year after… well, you’ll have to read the book for yourself to find out. Let’s just say my son was shocked, then amazed. You can scroll down here to find a student review, which might give some hints.

Thank you, Paper Tigers, and congratulations on your ten-year anniversary!