Reading Around the World: 10 Books for Kids with International Stories
Jun 20, 2011
By reading books with an international focus, your child can gain a deeper understanding of the diverse and complex world outside of the United States. The following list includes stories set throughout the world, including the jungles of Peru, an Israeli hospital and an African village.
#1 The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan
With illustrations by Peter Sis, Ryan creates a fictionalized version of poet Pablo Neruda's childhood in this book aimed at middle school children. The young Neruda, going by his given name of Neftali Reyes, is a keen observer of the world. His boyhood fascination with nature transitions into a teenage interest in the plight of Chile's indigenous Mapuche population.
#2 Zahrah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okrafor-Mbachu
Steeped in African tribal culture, this novel centers on Zahrah, a young girl who was born with locks of hair entwined with living vines. In addition to her unusual hair, Zahrah is able to call the wind and fly, a power she uneasily begins to understand. In order to save a friend who receives a snakebite, Zahrah must undergo a journey in which she begins to master her talents.
#3 The Ear, the Eye and the Arm by Nancy Farmer
This adventure novel is set in the year 2194 in Zimbabwe. Three children of the military ruler leave home and explore the land around them. They encounter both incredible wonders of technological development and downtrodden, bleak slums. Along the way, they're pursued by bumbling detectives, kidnapped by gangsters and accused of witchcraft.
#4 Journey to Jo'burg: A South African Story by Beverley Naidoo
In this short novel, Naledi and Tiro's baby sister gets sick, prompting the pair to set out for Johannesburg for help. Along the way, they learn about the effects of apartheid. For example, they need passes to travel and suffer harassment from the police.
#5 Samir and Yonatan by Daniella Carmi
Samir is a young Palestinian boy who shatters his knee in a bicycle accident. Now, for the first time, he leaves his home in the Occupied Territories for a Jewish hospital so an American doctor can help him. While there, he learns about the Israelis, including Yonatan, a boy with an injured hand.
#6 The Village That Vanished by Ann Grifalconi
Told in the style of folklore, this book for young children describes how the inhabitants of an African village elude slave traders. The villagers raze their huts and till the ground in order to make the area appear to be inhabited by a lone woman. Meanwhile, the villagers escape along a hidden path.
#7 Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind by Suzanne Fisher Staples
Shabanu is a Pakistani girl who lives among camel-dealing nomads. The looming arranged marriage of Shabanu's older sister, as well as her own, fills Shabanu with apprehension. After a disaster of her making strikes, she's forced to curb her independence and seek peace of mind.
#8 Go and Come Back by Joan Abelove
This novel follows two American anthropologists who go to live with the Isabo people, a small tribe in the jungles of Peru. Conflicts between the cultures arise, with the American women being perceived as mean and foolish by the villagers. Ultimately, the book teaches about the Americans beginning to understand the people with whom they're living.
#9 The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis
While living under Taliban rule in Afghanistan, 11-year-old Parvana is forced to pretend to be a boy in order to support her family. After her brother dies in a land mine explosion and her father is imprisoned, Parvana acts as a reader for the illiterate. She witnesses the harsh and sexist laws of the Taliban, who forbid women from attending school or traveling without an escort.
#10 Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party by Ying Chang Compestine
Set in 1972 China, this autobiographical novel follows eight-year-old Ling, the daughter of two doctors. Her family's tranquil life is disrupted when a Communist officer, Comrade Li, moves into their apartment. The oppression of the Communists begins to cause havoc as Ling's friends disappear, her father is arrested and she is harassed at school.
Other Blog Posts You May Be Interested In
A question for parents: would you allow your children to play outside without keeping an eye on them? Many would likely say no. Well, the same mentality should be used when your kids use the Internet; in other words, kids should not be allowed to roam the vast world of the Internet unsupervised and without fully understanding its...
If you have a child in elementary, middle or high school, then you've likely heard plenty of stories about bullying. Even if your child is not the target of bullying, he or she could still be affected by it. As a parent, you'll certainly want to make your kids aware of this persistent and growing problem in schools across the...
Let's face it: moving from kindergarten to first grade can be an overwhelming experience; so can transitioning from elementary school to middle school, or middle school to high school. In many ways, kids can be totally unprepared for what to expect as they move from one grade level to the next. So how can parents help with this...
Is it too early to begin thinking about your child's future career? Whether you have a toddler, tween or teen, it's never too early to begin cultivating interests that might one day turn into a career. So what can you do to steer your child in what is hopefully the right direction?
Are you worried that your child will not be intellectually stimulated during the summer months? While the season should be a time for fun and relaxation, it certainly doesn't hurt to slip some learning in during summer break. So sure, hit the beaches and amusement parks...but consider the following suggestions for activities that are...