Jan 212015

Children's Books to Teach Geography and Critical Thinking {Multicultural Children's Book Day} | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received a free set of I See the Sun books for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own.

This month I officially started homeschooling Monkey, after kinda sorta doing it in the fall.  As such, I’ve been on the lookout for materials we could use that would extend the global/multicultural activities we have been doing already.  That is why I was thrilled to receive a set of I See the Sun books from Satya House Publications to review as part of Multicultural Children’s Book Day.  They are wonderful books to teach children geography and critical thinking, as well as appreciation for other cultures.

Each I See the Sun book follows a day in the life of a child in a different country, such as Mexico or Nepal.  We see the important people in their lives, discover their beliefs and rituals as well as favorite foods and games.  The illustrations are stunning, capturing the setting through unique collages that include paintings, photographs, and other elements like pieces of fabric.

I adore that the books are so culturally sensitive, making use of local sources so that the stories are accurate and translated correctly.  (Books are written in both English and a local language).  Each story is unique yet contains common elements, so that they lend themselves easily to further study as a unit.  They can also be read on different levels: Children can enjoy the books simply as stories without getting bogged down in too many details, or they can explore further using the in-depth explanations about the country at the back of the book.

Activities for Further Study

Here are some ideas for using the wonderful I See the Sun series in your homeschool or after school studies.  Pick and choose the elements appropriate to the age and interests of your child:

Compare and Contrast

For individual books:

– Look at the map at the beginning of the book.  Can you find your country as well?  How near/far apart are they?  Do you think it would take a long trip to get there?

– What is school like for the child in the book?  How is this alike/different from yours?

– What chores/work does each person in the family perform?  How is this alike/different from your family?

– What religious beliefs/practices do you see in the book?  Can you guess what religion they belong to?  How is this alike/different from your family?

– What foods do they eat?  Would you like to try one?  How are the foods in the book alike/different from ones you like?  Find a recipe for one dish and try it out!

– What games/sports do the children play?  How are they alike/different from ones you play?  Would you like to play them, too?

– What modes of transportation do you see people using?  Do you use any of the same ones?  Is there one you would like to try?

– How are the people in the country connected to the outside world (other countries)?  How is this alike/different from where you live?

– Do the people in the book live in a small village or a big city?  How can you tell?  How is this alike/different from where you live?

– Research the other language used in the book.  Try to find out a bit about the script and how to write words like “home” or “family.”  Find a website where you can hear some of the language spoken.   Can you understand any of it?  What does the sound remind you of?

– Pick one of the important landmarks from the country mentioned in the story, using the information at the back of the book and other resources from your library and online.  Make a pamphlet to introduce tourists to that landmark.

– Make a family diagram, showing the names used for family members in the book and their equivalents in your own language.

– Make a presentation to your family/friends about the country.  You can make a poster to show them or act out parts of the story.  You could also pretend you are the child in the book and give them a “tour” of your country.

As a unit:

– Make a chart that compares and contrasts one or more of the elements above.

– Make a recipe book with a dish from each country.

– Print a map of the world and color in each of the countries.  For older children, research the distances and come up with an itinerary for an around the world trip to visit each country.  How would you get from place to place?  How long would it take you to make such a trip?

– In which country are children allowed more time to play?  Where do they have to do more work?

– Which child lives in the most rural environment?  Which in the most urbanized?  How does this affect their daily lives?

– Have an “around the world” party featuring food and games from each country.  Make a playlist with music from each.


For individual books:

How is life in this country different from your own?  What is the same?  Would you like to take a trip there?  What do you think your trip would be like?  (Use this as a way to review the elements above).

As a unit:

Which child’s daily life is most like your own?  Which is most different?  Which country would you most like to visit?  Do you think the children would have fun playing together?  What other elements could have been included in the book?  Why do you think the authors chose to focus on these elements?  Do you think that daily life for everyone in the country is the same as what is shown in the book?  How might it be different if the person had more/less money?  Lived in a more rural/urban setting?  Practiced a different religion?

Make Your Own!

Put together your own book about your country!  You can do this on the computer or using pen and paper.  Include a map at the beginning.  What does a typical day in your life look like?  Be sure to think about elements like foods, chores, school, games/sports, and beliefs.  Illustrate with your own drawings or photographs.

I See the Sun Books


Multicultural Children's Book Day

This post is part of Multicultural Children’s Book Day – the annual event to celebrate and encourage the publication of multicultural books for children.

Did you know: 37% of the United States population is of multi-cultural or diverse nature but only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Multicultural Children’s Book Day is on a mission to change all of that.

This event, founded by Valarie Budayr of Audrey Press and Jump Into a Book and Mia Wenjen of Pragmatic Mom, continues to grow and evolve from year to year.  Here are highlights for this year:

– A brand new, stand-alone website that will be homebase for book reviews from noted bloggers all over the world, giveaways and book-related activities for young readers of all ages.

– The MCCBD team is also partnering with First Book to create a Virtual Book Drive for the event, and with The Children’s Book Council to offer readers quality resources along with fun and informative author visits.

– Multicultural Children’s Book Day is now a non-profit!

Over 100 established bloggers reviewing multicultural children’s books.

– All Done Monkey is thrilled to be one of the nine co-hosts that will help use their sites, readerships and reach to pass the word about MCCBD:

Multicultural Children's Book Day - Co-hosts

Africa to America

All Done Monkey

The Educators’ Spin On It

Growing Book by Book


Kid World Citizen

Mama Smiles

Multicultural Kid Blogs

Sprout’s Bookshelf

2015 Sponsors

MCCBD’s 2015 Sponsors include Platinum Sponsors: Wisdom Tales Press, Daybreak Press Global Bookshop; Gold Sponsors: Satya House, MulticulturalKids.com, Author Stephen Hodges and the Magic Poof; Silver Sponsors: Junior Library Guild, Capstone Publishing, Lee and Low Books, The Omnibus Publishing; Bronze Sponsors: Double Dutch Dolls, Bliss Group Books, Snuggle with Picture Books Publishing, Rainbow Books, Author Felicia Capers, Chronicle Books, Muslim Writers Publishing, East West Discovery Press.

There is also a great line-up of Author Sponsors.  Find out more about them and their multicultural books on the Author Blogroll Page!

Multicultural Children’s Book Day also now has its own Paper.li! A Paper.li is a free online newspaper that aggregates information on the topic of multicultural books for kids from all over the Internet. You can subscribe to stay up-to-date with this topic. Also watch for the hashtag: #ReadYourWorld and connect via Twitter and Facebook!

#ReadYourWorld - Multicultural Children's Book Day


  6 Responses to “Children’s Books to Teach Geography and Critical Thinking {Multicultural Children’s Book Day}”

  1. These books sound wonderful! Great list of questions & activities Leanna – this post is a great resource!

    • Thank you so much! They really are wonderful, and it was fun to brainstorm extension activities for them! They lend themselves so easily to classroom or homeschool use.

  2. Leanna, what a wonderful assessment of our books! And your list of activities and suggestions for further learning are perfect. Thank you for your participation in Multicultural Children’s Book Day!

  3. I love this series too! I shared one of the books with my daughter’s 6th grade social studies teacher who read it to the class. It works for a wide range of ages. Thank so much for your support of Multicultural Children’s Book Day as a co-hostess and proponent!!

  4. Leanna, thank you for a wonderful review with incredible extension activities. It’s been a wonderful celebration. Thank you for sharing it with us and being a co-host !!!

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