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Friday, August 29th, 2014

A Book that Celebrates Cross-Cultural Friendship

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“My Friend Mei Jing” is a celebration of a beautiful cross-cultural friendship. Mei Jing and Monifa are second graders and best friends. They bond over their common fondness for pets and arts and crafts. They visit each other’s homes often and discover how similar yet different their families’ cultural practices and customs are.

 

my friend mei jing

 

Narrated in the voice of Monifa, whose family is originally from Nigeria, we see how the girls embrace and delight in their differences. They are amused by what their grandmothers cook, and what their own names mean in their native languages–Cantonese and Yoruba. Monifa is fascinated by Mei Jing’s background and her big family; she even learns to eat with chopsticks and dance the dragon dance.  Likewise, Mei Jing gets cornrows on her hair and gives Monifa a Chinese coin for her birthday.

 

Children will easily relate to the everyday aspects that are highlighted to bring out the contrasts, with the theme of friendship at the center of it. Dotted with several cultural references, the narration is simple and fun. Collages made with artwork and real photographs make the book colorful and engaging.  Also part of a “My Friend…”series suitable for 4-7 year olds, this is a wonderful picture book to introduce cultures, nurture empathy, and acknowledge diversity among people. It’s also a great read for multicultural families and for back-to-school season!

 

For more awesome multicultural book recommendations, check out the whole
Read Around the World Reading Series from Multicultural Kid Blogs! You can also follow along on the Pinterest Board!

© 2014, Meera Sriram. All rights reserved.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Meera Sriram has been reviewing and recommending diverse children’s literature for about ten years now. She loves to pass on a title or an author to a friend (or a stranger, for that matter). Picture books particularly appeal to the inner child in her. She moved to the U.S. at the turn of the millennium from India. After graduate studies and a brief stint as an electrical engineer, she decided to express herself in other creative ways, primarily through writing. She has co-authored four books for children, all published in India. Her writing interests include people and cultures, nature, and life’s everyday moments. She also runs an early literacy program for toddlers and preschoolers in her neighboring communities. She lives in Berkeley, CA, with her husband and two kids. Curling up to read a good book with her children is something she looks forward to every day. She constantly fantasizes about a world with no boundaries over hot chai, to help her stay warm in foggy Northern California. More at www.meerasriram.com.

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1 Comment
  1. CommentsBest Children’s Books featuring Multicultural Characters | Pack-n-Go Girls   |  Thursday, 14 January 2016 at 7:03 am

    […] I love books with strong female characters! And along that note, I also noticed My Friend Mei Jing, a book that celebrates cross-cultural friendship. Told from the perspective of Monifa, who’s family is originally from Nigeria, she and Mei […]









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