If you want to get your children interested in something, the best way is to show them that other kids are involved. This rule holds for almost everything, even geography! Think about it this way: if you were to take your kids on a trip to visit a new country, it's more likely that they would have fun playing with local children than visiting a local landmark. Preschooler-ese is a universal language in many ways, and small children's play and routines are pretty easily translatable. So if you want to introduce your preschooler to the idea of other countries and cultures, a smart way to start is with books about children from around the world. There are lots of lovely titles along these lines. Here are just a few of our faves:
Children Just Like Me by Anabel and Barnabas Kindersley
What a remarkable book! The authors spent two years traveling to every continent and 140 countries to photograph and get to know individual children from all over the globe. Each child's life is featured in detail, with pictures of his or her food, clothes, friends, family, pets, school, home, and more. We appreciate that the children are grouped by continent and come from a wide range of economic backgrounds, but what really grips our little readers are the details -- the games the children play or the way they dress. It's enough to make the whole family want to embark on a voyage around the world! And whether or not you make the trip, you and your children will be poring over this book for years.
Let's Eat: What Children Eat Around the World by Beatrice Hollyer
One of the great pleasures of getting to know other parts of the world is eating. Thai, Indian, Mexican, or French food - mmmm, we love it all! And in this global day and age, our kids are tasting foods from different parts of the world at a very early age. What toddler doesn't like rice and beans? Or naan? And we know quite a few preschoolers who savor sushi whenever they get the chance. To go along with an international palate, it only makes sense to tell our kids a bit about where these delicious (or icky from some kids' point of view) concoctions come from. Picky and adventurous eaters alike will be fascinated.
Houses and Homes (Around the World Series) by Ann Morris
As much as small children adore their outings and adventures, there is no place they love better than home. So what better way to interest them in foreign lands than a picture book about different sorts of homes in different sorts of places? Homes, they will discover here, can be made from wood, stone, straw or mud; they can be small or large, crowded together or set far apart. A map of the world tells us where these houses were found, and provides an intriguing window into human geography. We also recommend other books in the same series, including Shoes, Shoes, Shoes and Hats, Hats, Hats and Bread, Bread, Bread!
Wake Up World! A Day in the Life of Children Around the World by Beatrice Hollyer
This is a wonderful book to introduce the way children live in other parts of the world. Stories and vivid photographs follow a day in the life of children from Brazil, Vietnam, Ghana, India, USA, Australia, England, and Russia. Your little ones will love learning about the daily routines and concrete details of other children's lives. This book provokes great questions and conversations, and does a lot to bring the map of the world alive for children.
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We often daydream about taking our young kids around the world to show them the sights and explore foreign cultures. Most of the time, though, the best we can manage is a trip to the library. There, we’ll pull out stories about different pa... read more