I love book lists, especially when they involve learning about another country! Thank you so much to Happy Go KL for providing us with this amazing list of children’s books from Malaysia!
Note: Though many of the books below are not available from US sellers, we have included Amazon links when possible for your convenience. These are affiliate links, so if you click through and make a purchase, we receive a small commission. (See the note at the end for other options to locate these wonderful books!)
Malaysia is a tropical South-East Asian country with a mind-boggling diversity of landscapes, people, languages and food. However, it is fairly difficult to find children’s books depicting local cultures. English is widely used, and English language children’s books from abroad dominate the market. But dig a little deeper, and some lovely stories with local flavour can be found. Here are some of our favourites:
Children’s Books from Malaysia
Grandma Lim’s Persimmons by Sunita Lad Bhamray, illustrated by Marjorie van Heerden
It’s always nice to read books with grandparents in a leading role. Grandma Lim, an avid gardener, is saving her plumpest persimmon for her granddaughter, but a storm creates havoc in her garden. With the help of some kind creatures in her garden she manages to save the day.
Puteri Tioman: The Green Turtle by Rossiti Aishah Rashidi, illustrated by Farrah Ashiela Samsuri
Puteri Tioman is a beautifully illustrated book about a turtle who is swimming back to Tioman Island off the eastern coast of Malaysia to lay her eggs. Not just a picture book but an educational story on habitat and threats to the Malaysian turtles, it is perfect for kids hungry for details on nature. With a strong conservation message, this book is a must-read to anyone traveling to the Malaysian islands or East coast – or any turtle territory for that matter – with kids.
My Mother’s Kitchen by Emila Yusof
The colourful series – My Mother’s Kitchen, My Mother’s Garden and My Father’s Farm – is perfect for the youngest readers. Despite the slightly gender-stereotypical titles they offer insights into tropical plants and spicy dishes that are part of everyday life in these parts.
Tujal and the Wind by Stephen-John Curtis, illustrated by Shaq Koyok
This book gives kids a rare look into the culture of one group of orang asli – aboriginal peoples of Malaysia. A young Temuan boy, Tujal gets lost in the jungle, chased by the angry wind. During his adventure he meets some of the animals of the Malaysian jungle and learns more about his culture. While not a literary masterpiece as such, this book is one of the few children’s books on the traditions of the orang asli. The story is written in English, Malay and the Temuan language.
Tulip – The Dog that Ate Nightmares by Quek Sue Yian and Khairul Azmir
This quirky book is not about Malaysia, but we like it for the very modern illustration. The story of a little girl and her gluttonous dog is accompanied with Dali-like pictures that may be too scary for sensitive little ones, but the details are very cool for the more daring readers.
Unfortunately there are hardly any Malaysian story books available in the US or UK. Some Malaysian bookstores like MPH do international delivery, as does Oyez! – the publisher behind most of the books above.
Happy Go KL is a blog about family life in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Three blogging mums share tips about their current home town, travel in the region with kids in tow and fun things to do with children at home. Happy Go KL can be found also on Pinterest and Facebook.