Posts tagged: multicultural children’s books

Kindergarten Day USA and China (Trish Marx & Ellen B. Senisi) – Book Recommendation

By , January 6, 2011 10:17 am

One thing I enjoy about having a blog is being “discovered” by a publisher whose books really fit my style and interests.  For me, the Global Fund for Children is just that publisher.  Their books are all about diversity and respect for other cultures and people.  I am always delighted and honored to be asked to review one, and pleased to be able to recommend a really worthwhile book.  When the review copy arrives at my house we all pounce upon it eagerly!

The latest treat we received from the Global Fund for Children is Kindergarten Day USA and China by Trish Marx and Ellen B. Senisi.  The premise of the book is basic:  simple text from a child’s point of view and lots of big, colorful photos track a typical kindergarten day in the United States and in China.

First of all, we love the way the book is cleverly set up as a flip book.  One half is the Schenectady, New York class but when you finish that section you close the book and flip it around to read about the Beijing children’s day in the other half.  We also liked that each page has a clock that shows both the time in Schenectady and the time in Beijing.  This gives a real-time sense of what is going on for the children in each country.  Finally, we enjoyed the fact that the China section has some Chinese words sprinkled throughout and briefly explains pinyin, encouraging young readers to try to pronounce the Chinese words.

The authors successfully create a connection between the two classrooms on different sides of the globe through parallel activities.  Each class has a birthday celebration.  There is a slight conflict (being too loud, not sharing toys) that will be familiar to all children wherever they live.  We see both classes eat lunch and have outdoor recess.  Children in each class interact with their friends and work on reading.  And at the end of the sections, both classes mention thinking about the other class and wonder if the other class thinks about them too.

Children will see that although there are some interesting differences in life in the other country (for example we see the American children served lunch in a cafeteria, whereas the Chinese teacher prepares lunch for the children and it is eaten in the classroom with chopsticks), there are actually far more similarities.  Children in both countries laugh and cry.  All the children enjoy friends, playtime, drawing and reading.

My kids (ages 5, 8, and 10) are fascinated by Kindergarten Day and have read it through several times, even the older two.  I really like how the Global Fund for Children’s multicultural books take advantage of childrens’ natural curiosity about other children to teach the important lesson that although we might be different in some minor ways, people are basically the same wherever they live.  If every human could learn this basic truth at a young age, and develop a sense of curiosity about other countries and cultures, wouldn’t the world be a much happier and more harmonious place!

Kudos (yet again!) to the Global Fund for Children for helping to promote international awareness and understanding among children.

Kindergarten Day USA and China is available either directly from Global Fund for Children (hardcover or paperback), or Amazon (also in hardcover or Kindergarten Day USA and China (Global Fund for Children Books (Paperback)).

My other Global Fund for Children recommendations:

Global Babies

Nasreen’s Secret School

Happy International Children’s Book Day! (Book Recommendations)

By , April 2, 2008 2:29 pm

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.

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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:

North America:

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!

South America:

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.

Africa:

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.

Europe:

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.

Asia:

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.

Australia:

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.”

Antarctica:

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!

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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.

+ My post about ways to foster international understanding and interest in your children.

Global Babies – Global Fund for Children (Book Recommendation)

By , February 19, 2008 8:27 pm

This board book (published by Charlesbridge for the Global Fund for Children) is a very sweet and unusual “baby faces” type of book. All babies love looking at other babies. My children have always enjoyed photos of babies, especially in the baby and toddler phase. This is a baby book that features a diversity of babies from around the world: Guatemala, Thailand, Greenland, Mali, USA, India, South Africa, Fiji, Peru, Afghanistan, USA (Native American), Malawi, Spain, Iraq, Rwanda, Bhutan, and China (the cover).

The pictures are lovely close-ups of the baby faces and the babies are often depicted in traditional clothing or baby wrap which can inspire some conversations with older children about cultural differences. Younger children and babies will simply enjoy looking at the faces. My 2 year-old has loved this one for a long time.

Global Babies is a wonderful book for celebrating diversity and teaching that although the outside appearance may be different, babies all over the world are just babies.

The fact that this is a sturdy board book means that little loving hands have a harder time destroying it. A plus!

Also, a portion of the proceeds of the book goes to the Global Fund for Children , “a nonprofit organization committed to advancing the dignity of young people around the world.”

A win-win for all I think!

Dona Nobis Pacem (10 Ideas for Fostering International Understanding in Your Kids)

By , November 7, 2007 12:59 am

Sometimes I am a glass half-full type of person, and sometimes I am more inclined to be a glass-half empty type.

About peace…I think I am running on empty. I feel that throughout history there never has been peace. There never will be peace in the future either. It is just human nature to fight.

Religion, which is supposed to be all about peace (no matter what the religion), seems often to make matters worse. The Crusades, the Inquisition, etc. I’ll stop my brief list there so as to not get myself into too much trouble.

The glass half-full part of me says: “Hey, wait a minute! Why not start with the children?”

Well, why not start with the children? What an excellent idea. If all the world’s children could learn about and appreciate other cultures, races, and religions, then wouldn’t there HAVE to be peace?

Glass half-empty says: “There is no way to teach every child in the world these things!”

Glass half-full says: “Maybe not, but the way to start is with our own children. Let’s teach them about the beauty of diversity.”

Yes let’s.

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Here are ten thoughts on how to do that:


1) Have your child learn a foreign language, either through their school or through home, online or language school study. The US is one of the only countries in the world where a child/adult can get all the way through school, and even college and beyond, without learning another language.

2) Take your children to local multicultural events such as Chinese New Year celebrations, Greek festivals, etc. Check your local paper for details.

3) Travel with your children, which leads to the next suggestion:

4) Get your child a passport now so that he or she can travel with you when old enough, and the opportunity for foreign travel arises. Passport processing is taking a long time these days, so why not simply put it on your to-do list and get it over with right away. (Most US post offices can issue passports and even take the passport photos, it is very easy). By the way, passports are now required for air travel to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda, even for infants.

5) If your children are teens and are interested…let them be an exchange student. I did it as a teen (twice) and it totally changed my life!

Youth for Understanding (the program I used)

AFS Intercultural Programs

ASSE

6) Host an exchange student in your home (it doesn’t have to be for a year, it can be a semester, a summer, or even less!) Check out links above, or Google “international student exchange.”

7) Get your child a penpal. Google “penpal” for some sites that can arrange this. Being the paranoid parent, I would check it out carefully first though before signing up. I would choose a “snail mail” penpal over an email one, and would monitor the whole thing very carefully. Check with your child’s school too. Often penpal arrangements can be made through a teacher at school. If a teacher has contact with a teacher in a foreign country, many times classes can exchange letters.

8) Go to the library and check out an international cookbook. Cook an exotic foreign meal together, talk a little about that country, and find it on the map or globe.

9) If you and your family are really in the mood for adventure, either rent a house in a foreign country or do a house swap. A house swap is where you trade a month in your house, for a month in someone else’s house for example. Sometimes the trade even includes the use of a car. There are many websites dedicated to rentals and home swaps. The classifieds in the back of alumni magazines are also a good source. Many college alums prefer to rent their foreign house or apartment to another responsible alum rather than a total stranger.

Here are some house swap websites (note: I am not personally familiar with any of these):

HomeLink International

Home Exchange

Home Xchange Vacation

10) And of course the simplest and cheapest way to expose your children to other cultures, is to read to them. Go to the library. Read multicultural books to your children. Check my International Children’s Book Day post for detailed suggestions of books and web links to books for some ideas.

For inspiration, here are some of our favorite multicultural/international books. The last one is a real eye-opener: Material World: A Global Family Portrait, is geared more toward adults, but children will find it fascinating too, when read with an adult.

(For more info on two of these titles: I have written posts about Wake Up World, and Let’s Eat – plus another here about Let’s Eat)

Dona Nobis Pacem…Grant Us Peace – PLEASE!!!

Please visit Mimi’s Blog to find links to many, many, many more Peace Posts today.

Also, for more thoughts on peace, please visit my June Dona Nobis Pacem post.

My Mom (Sue Huszar, Debbie Bailey)

By , April 22, 2007 8:53 pm

This is my 15 month-old’s current favorite so I have to write about it. I have had this for all three of my children and they all find at absolutely FASCINATING at about this age (and beyond). The book consists of simple (and honestly, kind of ordinary) photographs of mothers and children playing, cooking, reading, and doing other different things together.

The photos look homemade (maybe this is part of the attraction?) but they are very racially and culturally diverse.

My kids have all loved it. My four year-old really didn’t want to let his baby sister have this one, so he is “lending” it to her. There is definitely something fascinating here!

Another plus is that My Mom is a board book, so it has lasted through three children loving it. I don’t have to worry about my 15 month-old destroying it.

There are other similar books in the series about Dads, Grandmas, Grandpas, Brothers, Sisters, and Families. I think we may get a few more since my baby loves these so!

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