March 30, 2017

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#GlobalKidizen Blog: 27 Multi-Cultural Children's Picture Books

Take a trip around the world in 27 books! We love sharing the beautiful diversity of the world with our children through books. In honor of International Children's Book Day here are some of our favourite picture books that celebrate different cultures around the world, introducing kids to far away places and people without leaving the comfort of the bed they are snuggled into as you read to them. We've arranged the books by continent. A special thanks to the parents who sent us their recommendations! Add your own world favourites in the comments!

The Americas

Mexico: Just a Minute!

by Yuyi Morales

An unwanted skeleton arrives at Grandma Beetle’s door, expecting to take her with him. She sneakily wears him out by counting out the chores she needs to do before going. The vibrant pictures of Mexican life and counting in both English and Spanish make this a great introduction to Mexican culture and language.

 

Haiti: Running the Road to ABC

by Denize Lauture

A colorful tale about the journey 3 boys and 3 girls take to school, running over hills and through towns and fields to get to school in Haiti. A celebration of the Haitian landscape and a love of learning.

 

Puerto Rico: The Coqui and The Iguana

by Alidis Vicente

The story takes place on a young girl’s family vacation in Puerto Rico. As she heads out on a nighttime excursion with her family, her cousin tells her the story of the coqui and iguana as a way to calm her fears about being out in the dark.

 

USA: Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest

by Gerald McDermott

A Native American tale about how people got light. Beautifully illustrated with short enough words for young children, it recounts how Raven used his smarts to bring the sun to humanity.

 

Canada: Moose!

by Robert Munsch, Michael Martchenko (Illustrator)

Inspired by the story of a boy from Nova Scotia, Moose! is the story of Luke who wakes up to a, you guessed it, moose in his backyard and his family’s efforts to get it to go away.

 

Alaska: Mama, Do You Love Me?

by Barbara Joosse, Barbara Lavallee (Illustrator)

A family favorite in our house, this beautifully illustrated book is about a little girl in Alaska testing the limits of her mother’s love for her.  

Peru: Up and Down the Andes: A Peruvian Festival Tale

by Laurie Krebs

Kids will learn about the culture and history of Peru in this story about children who are traveling from all over Peru to the Inti Raymi Festival, each using a different mode of transportation.

 

The Amazon: The Rainforest Grew All Around

by Susan K. Mitchell, Connie McLennan (Illustrator)

An adaptation of a song with stunning visuals and informative side-text make this book an excellent choice for children of all ages.  Younger children will love spotting the animals on the pages and the lyrical text and their big siblings will enjoy the cool facts about every animal they see.

Brazil: The Sock Thief: A Soccer Story

From Brazil, by Ana Crespo

A creative little boy in Brazil loves soccer but has no football to play with, so what does he do? He gets resourceful!

 

USA: Last Stop on Market Street

by Matt de la Pena (Goodreads Author), Christian Robinson (Illustrator)

A beautifully illustrated story about a child and his grandmother as they do their chores about town. CJ keeps asking his grandmother why they don’t have some of the material things others they meet do and she tells him about all the ways their life is rich. A great story for teaching compassion.

 

Europe

Ireland: Finn McCool and the Great Fish

by Eve Bunting, Zachary Pullen (Illustrator)

An old Irish legend about a big-hearted and strong giant and his search for wisdom.

 

England: Paddington at the Palace

From England, by Michael Bond

A classic children’s book about Paddington Bear going to watch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace but not being able to see through the crowds. A great one to read if you head out to visit the Palace on a trip to London with your little one.

 

France: Anatole

by Eve Titus, Paul Galdone (Illustrator)

A delightful book about an honorable Parisian mouse who gives excellent, anonymous advice to a factory of cheesemakers.

Italy: Guido's Gondola

by Renee Riva

With a message about not being materialistic, this book is set in Venice where Guido the rat spends his day taking tourists through the canals. A fun and funny read perfect for pre-schoolers.

 

Asia & Australia

China: The Empty Pot

by Demi

A parable about the importance of honesty, this book is about a boy named Ping competing with the other children in China to grow flowers given to him by the Emperor in order to find a successor.

 

Pakistan: King for a Day

by Rukhsana Khan

Set in Pakistan, this is a story about determination. Malik, a young wheelchair-bound boy wants to win the kite-flying competition during his city, Lahore’s, festival of spring, Basant.

India: Mama's Saris

by Pooja Makhijani, Elena Gomez

A scene that has been repeated in our home - a young girl wants to dress up in her mother’s clothes - in this case, a beautiful draped sari. A lovely story about the relationship between a mother and her daughter and the memories we hold in the special clothes we wear.

 

Korea: Bee-bim Bop!

by Linda Sue Park, Ho Baek Lee (Illustrator)

A catchy rhyming story about a Korean family making a traditional dish - Bi-Bim Bop. From shopping to cooking, this fun book includes a recipe to make Bi-Bim Bop with your own kids.

 

Japan: I Live in Tokyo

by Mari Takabayashi

A year in the life of a little Japanese girl, Mimiko. This books introduces young readers to the food, seasons and different cultural celebrations of Tokyo. A great introduction for little ones to Japanese life.

 

Australia: Colours of Australia

by Bronwyn Bancroft

A visual feast with poetic language, this book features Aboriginal art-inspired illustrations of the tremendous beauty of Australia.

Tibet: All The Way to Lhasa: A Tale from Tibet

by Barbara Helen Berger

A traditional tale from Tibet, this books tells the story of two boys trying to reach Lhasa, one moving fast and one slow. The art includes symbols from Tibetan culture and reflects the Buddhist nature of the country.

 

Thailand: Hush! A Thai Lullaby

From Thailand, by Minfong Ho, Holly Meade

A Thai mother tries to tell the world around her to “hush” in order to get her child to sleep. The repetition in the words makes it a perfect book for toddlers.

 

Africa 

Kenya: Mama Panya's Pancakes: A Village Tale from Kenya

by Mary Chamberlin

A lovely book to show the power of generosity it follows Adika, a Kenyan boy and his mother as they walk to the market together. Adika invites everyone he sees to eat pancakes at their house and his mother worries about how she will feed them all.

 

Tanzania: We All Went On Safari: A Counting Journey Through Tanzania

From Tanzania, by Laurie Krebs

Teach your little one numbers in both English and Swahili as they count animals on their safari. The text includes facts about the animals, Tanzania and the Masaai people.

 

Nigeria: Why The Sky Is Far Away: A Nigerian Folktale

From Nigeria, by Mary-Joan Gerson (Retelling), Carla Golembe (Illustrations)

A bright and beautiful book about why we need to take care of our planet, it recounts a Nigerian folktale about how the sky needed to move further away due to the greed of people who kept cutting parts of it away.

 

Africa (General): Somewhere in Africa

by Ingrid Mennen, Niki Daly, Nicolaas Maritz (Illustrator)

A book that breaks the village, jungle and safari stereotypes of Africa and describes life in an urban center through the eyes of a boy named Ashraf.

 

South Africa: Not So Fast, Songololo

by Niki Daly

Set in South Africa, this book follows a boy and his grandmother and their tender relationship as they run errands together. A perfect story for a grandparent to read out loud to their grandchild.

 

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Samar Shaheryar
Samar Shaheryar

Author

Samar Shaheryar is the co-founder of Baby Hero and has worked on global issues affecting women and children for 15 years. She is a mother to three spunky, multi-cultural kids and currently lives in Hong Kong.



1 Comment

Tasnim Shaheryar
Tasnim Shaheryar

March 31, 2017

Wow….what a collection! Can’t wait to read some of them with my grand children ?

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