Monday, January 27, 2020

Multicultural Children's Book Day Review: Dictionary for a Better World

I'm thrilled to be participating in Multicultural Children's Book Day this year! The second book I was gifted to review for the event is DICTIONARY FOR A BETTER WORLD, written by Irene Latham Charles Waters, and illustrated by Penny Weber. It is published by Lerner Books.


How can we make the world a better place? This inspiring resource for middle-grade readers is organized as a dictionary; each entry presents a word related to creating a better world, such as ally, empathy, or respect. For each word, there is a poem, a quote from an inspiring person, a personal anecdote from the authors, and a "try it" prompt for an activity.

My Review:

Dictionary for a Better World is a series of poems with titles that begin with "A" (such as "Acceptance"), and continue through all the letters of the alphabet with one or two poems for each letter. Some of the poems are written by Irene Latham, and some are written by Charles Waters, and some are written by both.

I loved so much about this book. I loved that there was an explanation of the poem type for every poem in the book. It really help me (a poetry novice) understand the what the author of each poem was trying to accomplish. And not only are the poems beautifully written, but they are perfectly accessible for kids.

I loved that the author of the poem would share something from their life (and usually their childhood) that inspired them to work on the attribute discussed in the poem. It was really fascinating to learn more about both authors as you moved through the book.

I loved that there was an action for each attribute . . . a way for the reader to get involved and to improve themselves by trying something new. There are so many good ideas for ways to improve ourselves in this book!

Finally, I loved the illustrations. So many different types of art are on display throughout the pages, and it is beautiful. I love how the page formatting works with the words and theme of the poem. Just beautifully put together as a whole.

This book is not the type of book you devour in one sitting (although you could). This book is meant to be savored. To make you think. It encourages its readers to consider not just the ideas that are presented, but to move and to act. As a reader, I wanted time to think and reflect, and so I read a poem or two before going to bed each night. It was so inspiring, and so lovely to fall asleep thinking about how I could make myself and the world, a better place.


Irene Latham is the author of more than a dozen current and forthcoming works of poetry, fiction, and picture books, including Charlotte Huck Honor Book Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship (co-written with Charles Waters). Winner of the 2016 ILA Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award, she became obsessed with octopuses after reading The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery. Just like Agnes, she enjoys sending—and receiving—postcards. Visit her at

Charles Waters is a children’s poet, actor, and co-author of Charlotte Huck Honor Book Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship. His poems have appeared in various anthologies including One Minute Till Bedtime and The National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry. Charles performs his one-person show as well as conducts poetry performance and writing workshops for elementary and middle school audiences. He lives in New York City.

Mehrdokht Amini is an Iranian-British children’s book illustrator living in England. She graduated with a degree in Graphic Design from Tehran University and has worked as an illustrator for both educational and mainstream publishers ever since. She started her career in Iran while still studying at university, working on various projects for children’s magazines and books. After moving to England in 2004 she continued working with publishers all around the world. Mehrdokht loves working with publishers who are interested in cultural diversity because it gives her an excellent opportunity to undertake a close study of different cultures and communities, gain a better understanding of those cultures and appreciate people of different backgrounds to her own.
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020 (1/31/20) is in its 7th 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 book into the hands of young readers and educators. 

Seven years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues.

MCBD 2020  is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board

Super Platinum





Author Sponsor Link Cloud

Jerry CraftA.R. Bey and Adventures in BoogielandEugina Chu & Brandon goes to BeijingKenneth Braswell & Fathers IncorporatedMaritza M. Mejia & Luz del mes_MejiaKathleen Burkinshaw & The Last Cherry BlossomSISSY GOES TINY by Rebecca Flansburg and B.A. NorrgardJosh Funk and HOW TO CODE A ROLLERCOASTERMaya/Neel Adventures with Culture Groove,  Lauren RanalliThe Little Green Monster: Cancer Magic! By Dr. Sharon ChappellPhe Lang and Me On The PageAfsaneh Moradian and Jamie is JamieValerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena PublishingTUMBLE CREEK PRESSNancy Tupper Ling, Author Gwen JacksonAngeliki Pedersen & The Secrets Hidden Beneath the Palm TreeAuthor Kimberly Gordon BiddleBEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 by Mia WenjenSusan Schaefer Bernardo & Illustrator Courtenay Fletcher (Founders of Inner Flower Child Books)Ann Morris & Do It Again!/¡Otra Vez!, Janet Balletta and Mermaids on a Mission to Save the OceanEvelyn Sanchez-Toledo & Bruna Bailando por el Mundo\ Dancing Around the WorldShoumi Sen & From The Toddler DiariesSarah Jamila StevensonTonya Duncan and the Sophie Washington Book SeriesTeresa Robeson  & The Queen of Physics, Nadishka Aloysius and Roo The Little Red TukTukGirlfriends Book Club Baltimore & Stories by the Girlfriends Book ClubFinding My Way Books, Diana Huang & IntrepidsFive Enchanted MermaidsElizabeth Godley and Ribbon’s Traveling CastleAnna Olswanger and GreenhornDanielle Wallace & My Big Brother Troy, Jocelyn Francisco and Little Yellow JeepneyMariana Llanos & Kutu, the Tiny Inca Princess/La Ñusta DiminutaSara Arnold & The Big Buna BashRoddie Simmons & Race 2 RioDuEwa Frazier & Alice’s Musical DebutVeronica Appleton & the Journey to Appleville book series  Green Kids Club, Inc.

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts

A Crafty ArabAfsaneh MoradianAgatha Rodi BooksAll Done MonkeyBarefoot MommyBethany Edward & Biracial BookwormsMichelle Goetzl & Books My Kids ReadCrafty Moms ShareColours of UsDiscovering the World Through My Son’s EyesEducators Spin on itShauna Hibbitts-creator of eNannylinkGrowing Book by BookHere Wee ReadJoel Leonidas & Descendant of Poseidon Reads {Philippines}Imagination SoupKid World CitizenKristi’s Book NookThe LogonautsMama SmilesMiss Panda ChineseMulticultural Kid BlogsSerge Smagarinsky {Australia}Shoumi SenJennifer Brunk & Spanish PlaygroundKatie Meadows and Youth Lit Reviews

FREE RESOURCES from Multicultural Children’s Book Day

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


Mia Wenjen said...

This sounds like such a wonderful diverse poetry book. I am adding it to my TBR pile. Thank you so much for sharing with Multicultural Children's Book Day!

Janet Johnson said...

Hi Mia! Thanks so much for dropping in. It was such a lovely book! I hope you enjoy it. :)