Today’s post is written by Liz, a single mom through adoption in the Boston area. Her 7 year old daughter Elfe was born in Ethiopia (like my son!). In addition to being a full-time mom, she works with women who are learning English as a second language, and has her own small business as a Barefoot Books Ambassador.
Barefoot Books is an independent children’s publishing company founded over 20 years ago by two moms who were unhappy with the quality of books available to their children. They started Barefoot Books to create books with gorgeous artwork, rich vocabulary, and timeless stories from around the world that spark children’s imagination: to Share Stories, Connect Families, and Inspire Children.
Today I’m sharing my favorite Travel the World books – we have stories from more than 50 different countries and cultures. If you are a multilingual family, many of these books are also available in Spanish and/or French too!
Before we can get started on our journey around the world, I’m going to ask a very special guest to join us as our guide…
My Granny Went to Market is a round-the-world counting journey for ages three to seven; count from one to ten with Granny as she flies around the world on an unforgettable shopping trip!
Granny’s first stop is Istanbul to buy the magic carpet she will ride on for her trip, and our first book is a collection of fables that includes a story from Turkey. In The Wise Fool, you will meet Mulla Nasruddin, a legendary character whose adventures and misadventures are enjoyed across the Islamic world. This witty collection of stories portrays his eccentric, engaging and
irreverent character. Nasruddin always has a twinkle in his eye, a sliver of wisdom in his ramblings, and a few good surprises up his sleeve! For ages 6 and up.
Then Granny heads to Thailand for two temple cats – Phukai and Phuket– and our next book is a collection of stories featuring animals from around the world, including Thailand…The Barefoot Book of Animal Tales.
Gathered from cultures all over the world, these traditional tales teach the importance of community, bravery, kindness, and a sense of humor. This multicultural collection includes a CD, and is for ages 5 to 11. The story from Thailand is Never Trust a Pelican – a greedy pelican comes up with a devious plan to fool the fish in the lake so he can eat them all up…until a clever crab figures out what’s going on and puts an end to the pelicans tricks!
After Thailand, Granny flies to Mexico, so let’s hop on our own magic carpets and join her there – Off We Go to Mexico!
Laurie Krebs is one of my very favorite Barefoot authors…she’s a retired first-grade teacher who takes round-the-world trips and then writes amazing books about the places she visits. Her books have educational threads woven throughout the story, and the learning is extended with detailed end notes at the back of the book. Here’s a peek inside Off We Go to Mexico – wouldn’t you just love to be there now?
Swim in turquoise seas, admire grey whales and monarch butterflies, trek to native villages and sing and dance to the music of Mariachi bands. Along the way, you can learn Spanish words and phrases and discover Mexican culture. For ages 4 to 10, and available in Spanish too!
Next, Granny flies off to China where she buys four paper lanterns – which makes our next book a perfect fit! Lin Yi’s Lantern is a beautiful story that takes place during the Moon Festival. Lin Yi, a little boy with a big heart and a talent for bargaining, really wants a red rabbit lantern for the Moon Festival- but first he must buy the things his mother needs at the market. The heartwarming story and stunning illustrations show the rewards of putting others first, and includes educational notes at the end about the Chinese moon festival, life in rural China, and the legend of the moon fairy. For ages 5 to 9.
Also set in China is another book from Laurie Krebs, We’re Riding on a Caravan. Explore the world of stunning silk, delicious spices and exotic trade locations in this rhyming tale about a Chinese family’s journey along the Silk Road, the trade route that runs thousands of miles through Asia. There’s a map of the Silk Road in the back, plus the story of silk and other educational notes. For ages 4 to 10. This is one of my very favorite books – I love reading it out loud for story times!
Now let’s join Granny in Kenya, where she buys 6 booming drums… Mama Panya’s Pancakes, a story from Kenya, is about community and sharing – be prepared to get a little teary-eyed when you read this one, I always do!
On market day, Mama Panya’s son Adika invites everyone he sees to a pancake dinner. How will Mama Panya ever feed them all? This clever and heartwarming story about Kenyan village life teaches the importance of sharing, even when you have little to give. For ages 4 to 10, including lovely end notes about Kenya and even a pancake recipe.
Masha and the Bear is part of our Animal Stories series, and I like to recommend this book because of its brave and clever heroine. When young Masha ventures out into the forest to pick berries to feed her family, she gets lost. A friendly bear finds her and welcomes her into his home. Masha is grateful for his help, but the bear wants her to stay there forever to cook and clean for him. Will Masha be able to ever get back to her family?
Starlight Grey is part of our Magic Stories series and it’s sort of a role-reversal Cinderella story. After an old man dies, only his dreamy son Ivan is brave enough to keep vigil at his father’s grave. Ivan’s reward is the magical stallion Starlight Grey. When the Russian king challenges all the young men in his kingdom to win the hand of his beautiful daughter, Ivan calls on the help of Starlight Grey. There is no glass slipper in this story, but the princess does have to figure out how to recognize Ivan after he completes the king’s challenge and then disappears!
The early reader chapter books are for ages 6 and up and are about 50 pages each and come from a variety of countries and cultures, from Ireland to Chile, from Zambia to Native American traditions, Italy and Korea and more – see the full list here.
Granny’s next stop is to Japan, where she buys 9 kites that flutter in the breeze! We have two books that I love with stories from Japan, and both are story anthologies. First, The Barefoot Book of Buddhist Tales.
The Buddha taught that life is like a dream, yet real. The ways in which we may fruitfully engage with this mystery are playfully explored in numerous tales from the folk traditions of countries including India, China, Japan and Tibet, and illustrate various important aspects of Buddhist thought, for ages 6 and up.
Second is The Barefoot Book of Pirates -with seven pirate tales brimming with adventure in this collection drawn from sources around the world, for ages 4 to 9. From mysterious and spooky to friendly and funny, the tales emphasize the qualities of bravery, imagination and compassion. The story from Japan is called Music Charms the Pirates, about a talented musician who is captured by pirates and uses his musical skills to melt their hearts and win his freedom. The Barefoot Book of Pirates also comes with two story CDs, another favorite for listening at our house and in our car!
Granny’s last stop is Peru, where she buys 10 llamas and meets her granddaughter to give her all the gifts she bought on her magic carpet ride. Our book from Peru is Up and Down the Andes, another Laurie Krebs book. This rhyming text takes readers from Lake Titicaca all the way to the city of Cusco for the highly popular Inti Raymi festival, celebrated in June each year. Children from many areas of southern Peru are traveling to the festival, each using a different mode of transport. Up and Down the Andes is also available in Spanish.
Finally, I am sure that Granny tucked a copy of the Barefoot Books World Atlas into her bag before she embarked on her trip to the market – and whether you are a globe-trotting family or simply an arm-chair traveler, you will need one too!
This is the atlas for twenty-first-century readers. It’s packed with information about the way in which communities and cultures around the world have been shaped by their local environments, and it looks at the ideas and initiatives that are shaping the future. Maps of regions and oceans bring faraway places to life, with illustrated geographic and architectural features, people, plants and wildlife, from oil fields to Buddhist monks to the Amazon rainforest. The Atlas features a pull-out map, fold-out booklets and panels; it’s an amazing resource for all ages – makes a great teacher gift too!
Whew – what a trip! Where was your favorite destination? Which Barefoot Book is your favorite?
If you’re interested in holding a Barefoot Books party (either in the Greater Boston area or on facebook!), having some fun with challenges and prizes, and earning free books, contact Liz on Facebook and check out her pinterest board Crafts for Barefoot Books. If you are looking to earn some extra income and would like to join Liz as a Barefoot Books Ambassador, take a look at this info and contact her with any questions you might have.