Kate at Expat Mama and I have been talking about children's books that support openness to cultural diversity, and I had mentioned that I knew of a few good ones. I was planning on sending her a list, but decided to both e-mail it to her, and post it. So here it is. While I have linked the books to Amazon for the ease of making this list, I would like to express my absolute support of two sites/companies from whom I always order. They both are doing enormous amounts to help parents, children and teachers create and grow up in a more peaceful and kinder world. They are Chinaberry Books and Michael Olaf Montessori whose web site is not all that it could be, but who nonetheless provide a fantastic assortment of books and materials and also information about children's development. Chinaberry combs the market for books that nurture all that is wonderful in our kids and for really good books. You won't find the goosebump series here. I love this group.
Most of these books portray children living normal lives wherever they are growing up. What I like most about this is that it shows how much we as humans and our human children are alike, while still celebrating our diversity of culture and language. They also all treat the children as intelligent beings who are able to receive this underlying message without us hammering it into them, with over obvious moralising story lines. They are respectful.
Children Just Like Me is from Doris Kindersley, and has two page spreads of children from all over the world, showing their families, schools, favorite pastimes, foods and friends.
People is an absolute classic. Accessible for the very young
A Country Far Away Shows the daily life of a child in England and one is Africa...a lack of specificity I find a touch irritating, but it is handled from the child's perspective well..."today I stayed at home", and the pictures show what they did, which differ, and are the same...play games, eat food, hang out with your family...
How Children Lived shows children over time from different parts of the world, again on two page spreads....
Children of Native America has a fairly self-explanatory title...lots of photos....I think it is mostly North American.
Another good thing to do is to find music from different parts of the world, to accompany these texts...granting that any culture has tremendous variation in the music it listens too, this is still another route of understanding between children and people...world music is so available now and music is so natural a bridge between people and cultures.
Colors of Ghana is part of a series of books, including Australia, China, India, Japan, Kenya Mexico and the Navajo that show people from other parts of the world beautifully...there are paintings, information about the country and maps.
To Be an Artist shows children's making art around the world...the art includes singing and dancing poetry and theater as well as visual arts...there are many countries represented for each art form.
Material World is a telling and brilliant book, there are several pages for each family who are selected to be the median for the country they represent. There are photos of their daily lives, and information about the country, as well as a double page spread of everything the family owns out in front of their house with the family members. There is enough information for much older children to get a lot out of it, and the pictures are good enough for the very young to enjoy.
Tatterhood is a little different, it is a collection of stories and fairy tales that portray women as the protagonists, but not only that, they are strong, capable intelligent and don't just sit around waiting for Prince Charming to solve all the problems. selected from around the world. (Probably because there are so darn few of these stories...)
Another important aspect of this is to search out publishers, and some of them specialise in this, who produce perfectly regular children's books, but the illustrations feature families that are from a variety of backgrounds and cultures.
Festivals of the World the illustrated guide to celebrations, customs, events and holidays. Fairly self-explanatory. The book is of course necessarily something of an overview.
Ancient America A general resource book including maps and illustrations about the people who lived on North and South America before it was "discovered" Invaluable addition to traditional education today.
You and Me Together looks absolutely brilliant, it is a photo essay of Moms, Dads and kids playing together all over the world....I think it is done in conjunction with National Geographic, so the photos should be phenomenal.
There are of course many many more of these sorts of books, and a little searching will help immensely.
Still have a light headache, and my neck is stiff today as well *whine winge winge*