Travel to different countries with your children through books! Reading is a wonderful way to explore the world with your students or children and give your classroom or homeschool a global focus. Whether you are looking to supplement your history lesson or teach about a holiday celebrated in another part of the world, the books below make it easy and fun to learn about other cultures. Where will reading take you next?
Books to Help Children Explore the World
I received complimentary copies of many of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
One of the most important qualities that a world explorer must have is humility. When you step into another culture, you quickly realize that you don’t have all the answers – other people see the world in different ways and live differently than you do. A wonderful way to clearly teach this concept to children is with the beautiful book Elephant in the Dark. This engaging book, based on the poem by Rumi, imagines what would happen if people tried to discover about a mysterious creature brought from back from a distant journey (spoiler alert: It’s an elephant!), yet they could only find out about it by going into where it is being kept in a dark barn. Each would discover the truth about the animal (“It’s like a snake!” “It’s like a tree trunk!”) but only part of the truth. So who is really right, and can they ever stop arguing long enough to figure it out?
Teaching about holidays in other countries is a really fun way to explore the world with kids. Let’s Celebrate Navratri! (Nine Nights of Dancing & Fun) is the fifth adventure from Maya and Neel, the sibling pair that love to take children along as they discover the diverse cultures of India. I had heard of Diwali and even Holi, but Navratri was completely new to me – although once we started reading I did recognize some of the dances from our Dances of India book (read my review).
In Let’s Celebrate Navratri! we learn all about this nine day festival, particularly as it is celebrated in Gujarat, with dancing, fireworks, and carnival-type rides. When they go to see a play on the final day, we learn more about the legend of Ram Leela. Navratri is a joyous celebration of the triumph of good over evil, and this colorful book is a wonderful introduction for children. There is a wealth of information for older children, but even very young children will enjoy the illustrations. In fact, my toddler loves flipping through the book and kept stealing it from me as I was trying to write my review!
If you are a homeschooler, chances are you’ve already heard of Carole P. Roman and her wonderful series of books for children about different countries. In her award-winning books, like If you were me and lived in… France, children are invited to explore the world by imagining what their lives would be like if they lived in another country. For example, perhaps you would be named Hugo or Collette and go with your parents to buy bread at the boulangerie. If You Were Me and Lived in…India, you might enjoy playing cricket and go to classes at a pathshala. This series – which also includes books about Brazil, South Korea, and Australia, among others – is a great addition to any classroom or homeschool.
So you can imagine how thrilled I was to discover that Carole P. Roman also has a series of books that lets children explore the world of the past! Her history books are similar in format to those above, but they are much thicker and go into much greater detail about the countries being visited. In If You Were Me and Lived in…the Ancient Mali Empire, for instance, children get to glimpse the king’s throne room and listen to stories about the formation of the royal council that selected the first mansa to rule over all the Mandinka tribes. At the end of the book children can also learn more about important people of the Mali Empire. And can I just say how difficult it is to find good quality children’s books about the kingdoms of ancient Africa?? This is amazing!
So whether you are studying about Ancient Mali, Ancient China, Ancient Greece, the Mayan Empire, Viking Europe, or the Middle Ages, you won’t regret making this amazing series part of your curriculum.