Today’s guest post comes from Amy Broadmore, the mother of three young children ages seven, five, and two. She spends her time teaching and learning from her children, running, and searching for great picture books. She recommends children’s literature with captivating stories and gorgeous illustrations on her blog Delightful Children’s Books.
I love the ability of good stories to both entertain and teach kids at the same time. Here are ten of my favorite stories set in countries around the world. These are, for the most part, fictional stories. Yet, they introduce kids to real places and real experiences. These stories help kids imagine what it would be like to celebrate Eid in Kuwait, go on a family road trip in Australia, wait for the Biblioburro to arrive in Colombia and more.
Cherry Tree by Ruskin Bond and Allan Eitzen. A deceptively simple, well-written story of a girl who plants a cherry tree and cares for the tree as she grows up. Cherry Tree is set in the Himalayan foothills of northern India where, according to the story, there are not many fruit trees. My children all love this book…perhaps because of the lovely illustrations, perhaps because they enjoy imagining themselves growing older. Ages 4+
Waiting for the Biblioburro by Monica Brown and John Parra. A story inspired by the real life work of Colombian librarian Luis Soriano Bohorquez who travels throughout Colombia with two burros bringing books to children in rural Colombia. Waiting for the Biblioburro is a lovely story told from the point of view of a young girl Ana who loves books and waits expectantly for the Biblioburro to return. Ages 4+
Arctic Son by Jean Craighead George and Wendell Minor. Written by the author of My Side of the Mountain, Arctic Son describes the adventures of a young boy growing up in an Inupiat village. If you enjoy Arctic Son, also take a look at Snow Bear, another story of Arctic life by Jean Craighead George. Ages 4+
Galimoto by Karen Lynn Williams and Catherine Stock. A young Malawi boy goes to great lengths to collect enough wire to make a galimoto, a toy vehicle. With industriousness and creativity, the young boy creates an impressive toy. Ages 4+
Rechenka’s Eggs by Patricia Polacco. An engaging tale about an old woman who witnesses two miracles while decorating eggs for a Russian Easter festival. While not a realistic portrayal of modern Russia, Rechenka’s Eggs is a wonderful story that depicts the beauty of traditional Ukranian eggs. If you enjoy Rechenka’s Eggs, look for other books by Patricia Polacco. Ages 4+
Boundless Grace by Mary Hoffman and Caroline Binch. Grace is a wonderful 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. 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+
The White Nights of Ramadan by Maha Addasi and Ned Gannon. This story of three siblings and their family observing the Islamic holy month of Ramadan conveys the excitement of children as Eid approaches. The White Nights of Ramadan includes engaging dialog and information about the customs and meaning of Ramadan. Ages 5+
Ruby’s Wish by Shirin Yim Bridges and Sophie Blackall. A wonderful, moving story about a girl Ruby who lived in old China at a time when girls were expected to get married rather than attend university. While Ruby’s Wish does not describe modern China, I include it on the list because it is an outstanding book with beautiful illustrations, excellent writing, and a remarkable story. Author Shirin Yim Bridges clearly explains that this book is set in the past. Ages 5+
Are We There Yet?: A Journey Around Australia by Alison Lester. Alison Lester is a fun tour guide as she describes a family trip around Australia. Are We There Yet? introduces kids to the variety of things to see and do in Australia and at the same time maintains the feel of a fun story about a family vacation. In this story, eight-year-old Grace and her family visit the pinnacles at Perth, squeeze into a camper, snorkel at Turquoise Bay, entertain themselves as they drive, hike between round red domes in the Outback, stop for a picnic lunch, and have many more adventures. Ages 5+
Linnea in Monet’s Garden by Cristina Bjork and Lena Anderson. A delightful story of a girl Linnea who visits Paris with her neighbor Mr. Bloom. Linnea and Mr. Bloom have a wonderful adventure, which includes staying in an old hotel with a view of Notre-Dame Cathedral, drawing and photographing flowers at Monet’s garden, meeting Monet’s step-great-grandson, picnicking by the River Ru, and waking up early to watch the sunrise on the Seine. Readers will learn about Monet, impressionism, and Paris, and enjoy imaging themselves traveling to Paris. Ages 6+
For more stories set in countries around the world, see this complete set of Read Around the World booklists at Delightful Children’s Books.
Thank you so much Amy- there are several that I haven’t read yet, and I can’t wait to check them out!