12 Books to Transport Your Child Across the Globe

This past winter and spring, my children and I took an imaginary trip around the world. Every two weeks, we read books and ate food from a different part of the world. We had fun. Over the course of our trip, we read a lot of books about different countries. Here are our favorites.

The kids making Chinese Birthday Noodles with Peanut Sauce from The Kids’ Multicultural Cookbook by Deanna Cook.

To Be a Kid by Maya Ajmera and John D. Ivanko. Great photographs depict kids from around the world engaged in common, everyday activities, including spending time with family, going to school, playing, painting, making music, etc. The simple text is accessible to very young kids. Ages 0+

Peek!: A Thai Hide-and-Seek by Minfong Ho. Lovely illustrations of a daughter and father playing peek-a-boo. This book introduces kids to some new words: “Jut-Ay” (the exclamation used in Thailand when playing peek-a-boo) and Thai animal noises. My three-year-old enjoys looking for the daughter hiding in each picture. Ages 2+

Fernando’s Gift by Douglas Keister. This book begins with descriptions and photographs of Fernando’s home, family, and the Costa Rican rainforest. In Fernando’s Gift, Fernando must decide what to get his friend, Carmina, for her birthday. After Fernando and Carmina discover that their favorite climbing tree has been cut down, they receive a lesson in the importance of preserving the rainforest and Fernando gets an idea for a birthday gift. Ages 3+

I Lost my Tooth in Africa by Penda Diakité, illustrated by Baba Wagué Diakité. Both my three and five-year-old love this story about a girl who loses her tooth while visiting her family in Mali, Africa. Instead of receiving a quarter for her tooth, the girl receives two chickens. Ages 3+

Boundless Grace by Mary Hoffman. Grace is a great character — creative, adventurous, and thoughtful. In Boundless Grace, Grace is invited to visit her father, who she has not seen for years, in The Gambia, Africa. Boundless Grace is a compelling story about Grace trying to make sense of her family after meeting her father’s new wife and children. It includes memorable descriptions and illustrations of an African airport, compound, marketplace and more. Ages 4+

Galimoto by Karen Lynn Williams. I love this story of a young boy Kondi’s tireless efforts to gather enough wire to make a galimoto (a toy vehicle). The description of Kondi’s things — a ball made of plastic bags, a knife made from a tin can, a dancing man made from dried cornstalks, and some wire — is a reminder that most kids in the world do not have all the stuff that U.S. kids have. Kids will marvel at the cool toy Kondi makes with a little wire and creativity. Ages 4+

I Live in Tokyo by Mari Takabayashi. Describes the big events and celebrations that happen in a year in the life of seven-year-old Mimiko. I love the detail included in the lovely, watercolor illustrations (e.g. illustrations of Mimiko’s top ten favorite meals). Ages 4+

Nine O’Clock Lullaby by Marilyn Singer. My children were fascinated by this book, which describes scenes from around the world happening at the same time that the child narrator is going to bed. “9 P.M. in Brooklyn, New York, is…10 P.M. in Puerto Rico…” the story begins. Nine O’Clock Lullaby describe scenes in the mid-Atlantic, England, Zaire, Switzerland, Moscow, India, China, Japan, Australia, Samoa, Alaska, Los Angeles, Mexico, and Wisconsin. Ages 4+

Me on the Map by Joan Sweeney. Me on the Map is a great introduction to maps and useful for explaining how big the world is to children. Near the end of the book, there is a map of the world, with drawings of kids from different countries on the map. The narrator explains “…in rooms, in houses, on streets, in towns, in countries all over the world, everybody has their own special place on the map.” Mapping Penny’s World by Loreen Leedy is another great book for introducing kids to maps. Ages 4+

The Kids’ Multicultural Cookbook by Deanna Cook. An excellent book for getting kids excited about other countries. This cookbook includes information about various countries, several international games, and suggestions for throwing international parties. It is sufficiently entertaining that my five-year-old frequently asks me to read it to him for fun, when we have no plans to cook. The recipes are easy-to-make and generally appealing to young kids. Ages 5+

Prita Goes to India by Prodeepta Das. Prita Goes to India is about a young girl of Indian descent’s trip to visit her relatives in India. This informative book includes wonderful, colorful photographs of India and engaging descriptions of India from a child’s perspective. Other books in this series include: Shanyi Goes to China, Victoria Goes to BrazilIkenna Goes to Nigeria, and Kamal Goes to TrinidadAges 6+

Cassio’s Day: From Dusk to Dawn in a Brazilian Village by Maria de Fatima Campos. In a straightforward manner, this book describes six-year-old Cassio eating breakfast, going to school, playing with friends, celebrating his father’s birthday, and going to bed. Cassio has a full day, which includes stops to watch a woman in his village make cheese and to watch a man in his village make a basket. Other books in this series include: In a Chinese City, In a Ghanaian City, In an Indian Village, and In a Russian City. Ages 6+

This entry was posted in Ages 3+, Ages 4+, Ages 5+, Ages 6+, Ages 7+, Ages 8+ and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to 12 Books to Transport Your Child Across the Globe

  1. Jen says:

    I *love* that you took your kids on this journey! What fun. And, a fun list of books – several of which are new to me. BTW, they aren’t books, but are you familiar with The Little Traveler’s DVD series?

  2. Amy says:

    Hi, Michele. Any suggestions for good children’s books set in France? While they didn’t make the cut, I really like This is Paris by Sasek and Linnea in Monet’s Garden by Bjork and Anderson. When the kids and I were taking our imaginary trip to Europe, we didn’t cook any exciting French food. One morning, we had a French breakfast with baguette, hot chocolate, yogurt, and muesli.

  3. le corre says:

    what about France? which recipe have you tried?

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