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The last of the lazy summer afternoons are made for curling up with a good book and traveling to a faraway land. These recommendations increase geography knowledge and understanding of other cultures.
1. Beatrice’s Goat by Page McBrier
This is one of my new favorite children’s books and I learned about it when I did the free curriculum offered at Wee Folk Art! Beatrice lives in an African village and more than anything, she longs to go to school, but her family is too poor to afford the uniform or books. Then Beatrice’s family receives a wonderful gift from some people far away — a goat and with the goat’s help it looks like her dream might come true! Thanks to Heifer Project International — a charitable organization that donates livestock to poor communities around the world — other families like Beatrice’s will also have a chance to change their lives. This book was eye-opening to my children about how others in our world live and more importantly, instilled a new found gratitude of their own school experience. (Recommended for ages 5-8)
2. I Lost My Tooth In Africa by Coretta Scott King Honor author/artist Baba Wague Diakite and his 12-year-old daughter, Penda.
More than anything, Amina wants to lose her loose tooth while visiting her family in Mali, West Africa. She wants to be able to put in under a gourd and have the tooth fairy there exchange it for two chickens! This book offers a charming peek at everyday life in Mali, and is fun for children to compare their own tooth fairy experience with other children’s experience of this childhood rite of passage in a different part of the world. (Recommended for ages 5-8)
3. My Very Own Room/Mi propio cuartitoby Amada Perez and & Maya Gonzalez
The young Mexican American girl at the center of this book loves her large family, but she can never seem to find a moment alone. Told in both English and Spanish, this boldly illustrated title shares the story of a CA family that works together to give a young girl her “own space”. With lessons on collective problem solving, family love, and the possibilities that arise when you dream big, this book is one for every child’s shelf. (Recommended for ages 5-up)
4. Rechenka’s Eggs (Paperstar) by Patricia Pollaco
Babushka is an elderly woman who lives in a little house in the country near pre-revolutionary Moscow. She is renowned for the beautiful Easter eggs that she paints all winter for the Easter festival in Moscow. One day, she rescues an injured goose who accidentally smashes all of her eggs. This is a great story about gifts with illustrations that are simply beautiful. (Recommended for ages 5-8)
5. The Cat Who Walked Across France by Kate Banks
A cat lives with his owner. When she passes away, he starts on a journey across the Norman countryside, past ancient ruins, through bustling cities, to the sparkling ports of the Mediterranean Sea and a place the cat can call home. (Recommended for ages 4-8)
6. Ruby’s Wish by Shirin Yim
Ruby is a little girl living in old China. Instead of aspiring to get married, she is determined to attend university when she grows up, just like the boys in her family. This story is based upon the inspirations story of the author’s grandmother. An interesting read on traditions and dreams. (Recommended for ages 4-8)
7. Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara Joosse
This story, which has a child testing the limits of independence and in doing so learns that a parent’s love is unconditional and everlasting, is made all the more captivating by its unusual Arctic setting. (Recommend ages 4 and up)
8. Possum Magic by Mem Fox
Set in Australia, Grandma Poss sets off across the Australian landscape looking for which magic food will reverse a spell. Unique Australian vocabulary and charming illustrations make this one a fun book for bedtime. (Recommended ages 4-8)
9. This Is Ireland by Miroslav Sasek
From the nostalgic children’s travel series, comes an updated version of this timeless classic which shares all the beauty and sights of the Emerald Isle in gorgeous illustrations and a charming narrative. We also have This is Paris and This is London. My kids love these books. (Recommend ages 5 and up)
10. If You Lived Here: Houses of the World by Giles Laroche
Step into unique homes from around the world and discover the many different ways in which people live and have lived. With intricate bas-relief collages, Giles Laroche uncovers the reason why each home was constructed the way in which it was, then lets us imagine what it would be like to live in homes so different from our own. (Recommended ages 6-9)
Little Passports, has also put together some of their favorite books for young readers in this age group looking for adventure. Here are their top three picks…
- Everybody Cooks Rice by Norah Dooley
Carrie’s mother asks her to go out into the neighborhood to find her brother for dinnertime. During her search, she stops by every house on the block and discovers that each family’s dinner includes a customary rice dish of their nationality. Set in San Francisco, this story exposes children to several cultures and their favorite rice dishes, and includes recipes for each meal mentioned, allowing you to bring the story to life in your own kitchen! (Recommended for ages 5-8)
2. Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins
- This story takes place in 10-year-old Naima’s village in Bangladesh. After riding and wrecking her father’s rickshaw, Naima sets out to find a job to right her wrong. Women are forbidden to work in her village, so she must disguise herself as a boy. Young readers will learn valuable lessons about social equality and bravery as Naima challenges the status quo to help her family. (Recommended for ages 7-10)
3. Go, Go America: 50 States of Fun by Dan Yaccarino
- Do you know what state hosts the International Rotten Sneaker Contest? Find out the answer from the Farley family. Join them on their road trip across the USA as they pick up quirky facts about each of the fifty states along the way. This book is the ultimate addition to your own family’s summer road trip! (Recommended for ages 8-10)
While I had read Rickshaw girl to my kids already, I am anxious to try out Everybody Cooks Rice (especially since San Francisco is one of our favorite cities!) and the others they have listed on their website. It is important to expose our children to different cultures and in essence, raise them to be citizens of the world and not just their community, state and country. There are many wonderful books that explore culture. I hope this list of mine can serve as a starting point for you to find many others!
We started doing Little Passports about 4 months ago to give the girls a fun geography project. They look forward to the monthly package and love the surprise of which country that month will be focusing on. We look up the country on the map as a family and enjoy learning about it for that month, including finding children’s books like these that tell about daily life there.
What books on other places would you add to this list?
This post is linked up at the Homeschool Post.
Little Passports is a learning adventure that takes your child through a new country (with the Little Passports World Edition) or two states (with the Little Passports USA Edition) every month. Little Passports subscribers journey along with characters Sam and Sofia as they explore the US and/or the world, complete with an assortment of travel accessories. Simply sign up for a monthly plan ($11.95/month) or a one year subscription ($10.95/month) and let the adventure begin! You can check out the entire list on the Little Passports Blog.