April 2nd is International Children’s Book Day, a worldwide celebration aimed at inspiring a love of reading and calling attention to children’s books. This annual celebration was created by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) a non-profit whose very worthwhile mission is the following:
- to promote international understanding through children’s books
- to give children everywhere the opportunity to have access to books with high literary and artistic standards
- to encourage the publication and distribution of quality children’s books, especially in developing countries
- to provide support and training for those involved with children and children’s literature
- to stimulate research and scholarly works in the field of children’s literature
Each year a different international chapter of IBBY hosts International Children’s Book Day. This year’s host country is Thailand.
In honor of International Children’s Book Day, I thought it might be fun to write a post about 7 children’s books that we have enjoyed – one for each continent of the world! I tried to pick a book that was from, or takes place in, each continent. So here goes:
How the Stars Fell into the Sky by Jerrie Oughton and Lisa Desimini
This beautifully illustrated Navajo legend of how the stars came to be placed in the sky, has an underlying deeper meaning. How did the world come to be the chaotic and adversarial place that it is today? Blame it all on coyote!
The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest by Lynne Cherry
Marvelous illustrations tell the tale of rain forest inhabitants who each try to tell a woodcutter why he should not chop down their Kapok tree. Teaches about rain forest animals and their needs, as well as the interconnectedness of all living creatures. By the way, the ending is happy and shows the man dropping his ax and leaving the forest.
Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plainby Verna Aardema
An African folk tale about how Ki-Pat succeeded in bringing rain to drought-stricken Kapiti Plain. Told in a “House That Jack Built”-style rhyme that is fun to read.
Bonny’s Big Day by James Herriot, illustrated by Ruth Brown
I decided to change the tone a bit with this selection. Until I found this charming book at a thrift store, I did not realize that James Herriot writes stories for children. Having always enjoyed his country vet series of books for adults, I was eager to read this sweet tale to my children. This story of a gruff old man and his love for his horses seems to be another of Mr. Herriot’s true tales of his days as a vet in the Yorkshire Dales. Too wordy for very young children, but animal-loving older kids will definitely enjoy this series.
Monsoon by Uma Krishnaswami, illustrated by Jamel Akib
The poetic tale of an Indian girl anxiously awaiting the arrival of the annual monsoon rains. Beautiful written imagery combined with wonderful pastel illustrations vividly depict life in an Indian city.
Big Rain Coming by Katrina Germein, illustrated by Bronwyn Bancroft
(I guess I have a real rain theme going here!) Unfortunately, I must admit that we seem to have no story books from or about Australia in our home collection. Factual books about Australia? Yes. But stories? No. I am totally embarrassed, especially if any of you reading this are Australians. I did however, find this book online and it seems like a really good one. The story is yet another about waiting for rain! The intricate, aboriginal style illustrations are what really seem to make the book. According to the School Library Journal review on Amazon: “The text is well paced with a perfect rhythm for reading aloud, and the large, clean double-page spreads make for easy viewing.”
Antarctic Antics: A Book of Penguin Poems by Judy Sierra, illustrated by Jose Aruego and Ariane Dewey
Ha! I bet you didn’t think I could come up with one for Antarctica, did you! Actually, Antarctica should have been my most difficult, not Australia. But fortunately I had this book in the back of my mind all along. We just love this little book of funny and educational penguin poems. Each poem teaches something about penguins in a very humorous way. I really can’t recommend this one enough! (For more information, read my review here.)
Happy International Children’s Book Day to all, no matter what continent you call home!
More links of interest:
+ My post about last year’s International Children’s Book Day which has lots of links to websites and stores for finding multicultural and international children’s books.