When my friend Daria from Daria’s World Music approached me about sharing her Indian drum craft along with a related children’s book, I was so excited! Daria and I have been friends for a long time, and I’m a big admirer of her work. She does such an incredible job of getting kids excited about world music. You can see below how much fun we had recently making the dhol Indian drum and reading a folktale about it!
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of some of the resources 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 charge to you.
Indian Drum Craft and Book
The dholis a drum from North India and surrounding areas, especially the Punjab region. This double-sided drum is hung around the neck with a thick strap and played with wooden sticks.
It is easy to do with resources you probably have on hand right now.
The kids loved getting to decorate the drums with their own designs, but best of all was running outside once they were done to find sticks and get playing!
While the kids were working, I read them The Drum, a folktale from India about a boy who longs for his own drum. Being from a poor family, however, he knows they cannot afford it. But when his mother brings home a magical stick, given to her by a mysterious stranger, the boy’s luck changes. He immediately begins a series of adventures, where his compassion leads him to help people in need, who each repay him as best they can. In the end, he gets his drum! A really fun story of a good-hearted kid being rewarded for his kindness.
Trying to raise a child who is a world citizen? Want to expose your child to different cultures but can’t afford to travel? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Read on for ideas of how to explore the world with your child in 6 easy steps – without ever leaving home!
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the items below for review purposes. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Explore the World with Your Child in 6 Easy Steps
1. Play Games
An incredibly fun way to explore the world with your child is through games! Children learn through play, so next time you’re looking for a fun activity, remember that it can be an easy way to learn about other cultures!
That’s all well and good, you may be thinking, but what if you don’t know any games from another country? Then you definitely don’t want to miss Global Kids: 50+ Games, Crafts, Recipes & More from Around the World! This is global learning made easy and super fun! This carefully researched resource comes in the form of a pack of large cards, each with an activity from a different part of the globe, or that emphasizes a particular aspect of global learning, like map reading. There are five categories: create, play, eat, celebrate, and help out. (I love the inclusion of helping others!) For example, you might learn to make a shekere (a musical instrument from Nigeria), play luta de galo (a form of tag from Brazil), make a Vietnamese fruit smoothie, grow bean sprouts to celebrate Nowruz (Persian new year), or go plogging (a Swedish activity that combines jogging and picking up litter).
The Global Kids activity pack is so easy for busy parents and teachers to use. The activities involve little to no prep, and most can be done with materials you already have in your home or classroom. Just pick a card and you will be off exploring!
2. Read Books
We all know how effective books can be in helping kids to learn about the world. And here is another stunning addition for your home library or classroom! Precious Planet: A User’s Manual for Curious Earthlings from gestalten envisions the planet as a house, where all of the elements and rooms are interconnected. First, we look back at the construction site (the planet’s creation), before moving on to the house’s foundation (the center of the earth, tectonic plates, etc.) and the different rooms (continents). Finally, we turn our gaze to our neighborhood, including possible vacation homes.
I love the book’s setup! It is such a great way of getting kids to think of the Earth in a new way, especially in terms of how closely connected we all are. For example, the Bathroom pages discuss the effect of dirty bathwater (trash in the oceans) and how the jacuzzi works (the ocean currents). The overall message of this innovative book is how all systems of our earthly home work together and our critical role as its caretakers.
3. Enjoy Food
Food is one of my favorite ways to explore the world with my kids! We love trying new recipes together, like Saudi Arabian Magic Cake or Costa Rican empanadas. Cooking together is wonderful hands on learning (science, math, language…), plus it’s easy to tie in other aspects of culture, such as celebrations.
A Taste of the World: What People Eat and How They Celebrate Around the Globe does just this, by looking at cuisine around the world, and how it relates to more than 20 different global festivities. Organized by continent, A Taste of the World, also from gestalten, looks at general aspects of global cuisine – such as spices – as well as the foods of specific countries. For each highlighted country, we explore some typical dishes and flavors as well as a local celebration, such as Three Kings’ Day in Spain, the Almond Blossom Festival in Morocco, and Thanksgiving in the US.
I love the diversity of the countries and festivals covered in the book. Many are ones you will have heard of, such as Diwali, while others, such as Jamaica’s Independence Day and Nigeria’s Fish and Cultural Festival, will likely be new to most readers.
As mentioned right at the start of the book, food brings people together because it’s all about sharing. So be sure to share this book with your little world citizen!
4. Learn a Language
Whether you speak another language or just want to learn a few phrases, exposing a child to another language not only has well documented benefits for their brain, it can also introduce them to new ways of seeing the world. And it makes a wonderful ice breaker if they meet someone from another country! Nothing makes a person feel welcome like having someone make the effort to speak to them in their own language.
As a non-native speaker, I often worry about my accent when teaching my kids Spanish. I love the new Little Polyglot Animals/Animales book from Linguacious, because it utilizes QR codes and a specially designed app to let kids hear vocabulary spoken by native speakers! (Read my review of their innovative flashcards). Each page features a large photo of an animal, along with codes that kids can scan to hear how to say the name of the animal in both English and Spanish.
It’s so easy, my four year old daughter can do it herself! And my older kids love it too, since they are drawn to anything involving technology. It is a simple yet incredibly effective way to teach children Spanish vocabulary!
Everyone loves a good party! The most popular event in our World Explorers Club is our annual Around the World Holiday Party. Learning about another culture’s celebrations can be a fun way to learn about their values and beliefs. And celebrations easily incorporate games, activities, food, music, dress-up, stories, and more!
For example, I love the gorgeous new book Korean Celebrations: Festivals, Holidays and Traditions from Tuttle Publishing. It covers all the major holidays and festivals of Korea, such as Seollal and Chuseok, as well as special events like bithdays and weddings. Kids not only learn the significance of the celebrations, there are tons of hands-on activities, too! They can make origami carnations as a gift for Parent’s Day in May, or cook Half-Moon Rice Cake for Chuseok. Kids will also be delighted to learn about local festivals like the Mud Festival at Daecheon Beach!
There are many other fun bits of information highlighted in the book, such as the national anthem, a look at the Korean flag, and how to write in Korean. I love the whimsical watercolor illustrations that bring the celebrations to life for young readers.
6. Try Unit Studies
One way to explore the world with your child that I’ve found to be particularly effective is making use of unit studies. Focus on one country or region at a time – maybe somewhere you’ve traveled, or someplace you’ve read about in a book. You can easily pull in all of the aspects discussed above, that is, games, books, food, language, and celebrations, creating a well-rounded experience your child is sure to remember.
Let’s Go to Italy! from gestalten is the perfect book to use for a study of Italy. It covers many aspects of this rich culture, including the language, food, history, and famous landmarks. Kids will love learning that the term nutella was coined by an Italian chef or reading about how gelato was developed! They will also discover the gondolas of Venice and the love story of Romeo and Juliet in Verona, as well as learn the many different types of pasta. They will study the work of Galileo and DaVinci, and learn why a violinist in 2007 was so distraught after breaking his Stradivarius violin. This jam packed book is rounded out by a dictionary, glossary of terms, and kid-friendly recipes.
My one quibble is that I would have liked to have seen more overarching organization to the book, rather than so many small chapters. Nevertheless, it is a glorious book to get lost in, with so many fun facts about one of the world’s most fascinating countries!
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is almost over, but it’s always a good time to highlight children’s books that focus on Asian and Asian American cultures! I’m so pleased with the collection of books below because not only are they quite varied in style, they also show just how rich and diverse these cultures are. I also love that they explore Asian Pacific American heritage in ways that celebrate the past but are also very relevant to today’s readers.
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of several 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 charge to you.
Asian Pacific American Heritage: New Children’s Books
Enjoy this collection of new children’s books that celebrate Asian Pacific American heritage!
Sumo Joe is her debut book, and it is a delightful look at martial arts from a child’s perspective. Sumo is one of those sports that most Americans love to joke about without really knowing much about it, so it’s wonderful to have a book that actually teaches kids about it in a fun way. We watch as Sumo Joe teaches his friends sumo moves and training, and for those that want to know more, there’s an illustrated glossary at the back of the book. But what will Sumo Joe do when his beloved younger sister wants to join in what has traditionally been a male sport? A charming book that is sure to win fans young and old.
Soon after I received my review copy of When Spring Comes to the DMZ, our Global Reads for Grownups Book Club had coincidentally started to read The Girl with Seven Names, a memoir of a defector from North Korea. So it was incredibly poignant to look at When Spring Comes to the DMZ, a gorgeous new children’s book that contrasts the natural beauty of the demilitarized zone between the Koreas with the harsh reality of the razor wire fence and lines of marching soldiers that surround it. Because the DMZ is a no man’s land, it has become a wildlife refuge, though a precarious one that is still full of landmines, under careful watch of heavily armed guards.
This book shows clearly the absurdity of war and the need to make the DMZ an area of true peace with the potential to reconnect a divided peninsula.
Ming’s Adventure in the Mogao Caves is a real treasure for anyone who loves religious or art history. Young readers, of course, will just appreciate it as a young boy’s enchanted adventure! Ming is traveling through the Gobi Desert to visit the famous Mogao Caves – a holy site and a treasury of Buddhist art – when a sandstorm separates him from his parents. He is saved by a nine-colored deer, who leads him to the caves.
Once there, Ming finds himself inside one of the cave’s murals, where he discovers he can use his magic paintbrush to help restore the animals in the painting. A lovely adventure story as well as a beautiful introduction to this important historical site.
Gondra’s Treasure is a fun read for any child that loves dragons, but especially those that comes from a intercultural family. Gondra’s parents are both dragons, but one is from the East and the other from the West. Gondra teaches us about what it’s like to have parents from different places: while Mom (from the West) breathes fire, Dad (from the East) breathes mist. Gondra, of course, can do both! (Though no fire breathing unless Mom or Dad is around!) A cute look at mixing cultures, as well as a fun comparison of how differently dragons are imagined in the different parts of the world.
Mina vs. the Monsoon is another fun read that also has a more serious message. Mina, an avid soccer player, is not happy when the monsoon rains begin. Though most others in her village celebrate the arrival of the rains because of the bounty they bring to the land, Mina can only think about how the monsoon rains will keep her indoors and away from her beloved soccer. Is there anything she can do to stop the rains from coming?
I love that this book shows such a tender relationship between Mina and her mother – and Mina’s surprise when she finds out her mother used to be a soccer player! There is a guide at the back to the Urdu and Hindi words that are sprinkled throughout the book, as well as more about why the author chose to feature a soccer playing girl in her book. In several states in northern India, communities are trying to combat child marriages by teaching girls to play soccer! Learning a sport gives the girls a sense of accomplishment and helps them think they can do more with their lives.
Pashmina I discovered not because it was related to Asian Pacific American heritage but simply because I was looking for a great graphic novel for my son. Pashmina was highly recommended, so we ordered it from our local library. When it came, neither of us could put it down!
It is the story of a young girl intrigued about her past, especially about India, the country her mother is from but never wants to talk about. One day she discovers a magical pashmina (a type of scarf) in her mother’s old suitcase. When she puts it on, she is transported to an enchanted version of India, though one in which she is followed by a mysterious shadow. It is only when she dares to travel to the real India that she is able to confront the mystery of her birth and her mother’s past, as well as the reality of life for women in India.
A beautiful coming of age story that is also woven with growing awareness of the difficulties faced by women in many parts of the world.
Teach your students all about the upcoming Lunar New Year with these wonderful Chinese New Year books for kids! They include picture books as well as easy readers and a chapter book. Some are straightforward informational books, while others are fairy tales that bring to life some of the aspects of the Chinese New Year, like the animals of the zodiac. Some focus on the difficulty of being away from family during this special holiday, or the challenges of finding your identity as a Chinese American.
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies 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 charge to you.
18 Chinese New Year Books for Children
Bringing In the New Year is a wonderful board book that introduces the youngest readers to Chinese New Year. In colorful illustrations, it demonstrates how a family prepares for the New Year – by, for example, sweeping out the old year and hanging up spring-happiness poems. Little ones will especially enjoy the depictions of the celebration with lion dancers, firecrackers, and a dragon parade!
A cute book to teach older slightly children about the holiday is Chelsea’s Chinese New Year. Chelsea and her Chinese-American family are getting ready for the Chinese New Year, and she can’t wait! Most of all she wonders how she will stay up so late the night before! Can be read as a simple story, or add in the fun facts that are seen in bubbles throughout the book. A fun look at the celebration through a child’s eyes. Includes a glossary, list of zodiac animals, and additional resources.
PoPo’s Lucky Chinese New Year also follows a young Chinese-American girl celebrating Chinese New Year, but with a twist – she is learning all about it from her grandmother (PoPo), who is visiting from China! The first thing she learns is that there are a lot of rules to bring luck for the New Year, like don’t wash your hair on New Year’s Day, and don’t use knives and scissors. Can she follow the rules to have the luckiest year ever?
This Next New Year is another great introduction to the customs of Chinese New Year. One thing that makes this book a little different is its emphasis on how people of different Asian cultures (and many who aren’t Asian at all!) celebrate this holiday, including the main character, a young boy who is half-Chinese and half-Korean.
In Li’s Chinese New Year, Li learns about Chinese New Year and the zodiac as he tries to decide which animal to be at his school’s Chinese New Year parade. Read to find out more about his teacher’s clever solution!
Home for Chinese New Year is a very sweet story about a father going to great lengths to return home for Chinese New Year. Jiajun’s father works in a city far from home, but takes a train, bus, three-wheeled motorcycle, and ferry before walking many miles to make it home to his family for Chinese New Year. Emphasizes the importance of being with family for the holiday, and the incredible efforts people make to celebrate this special holiday together, even if only for a few days.
A New Year’s Reunion is a very similar story of a little girl whose father builds houses far away and only comes home for a few days a year, at Chinese New Year. This book captures the mixed emotions the young girl feels – excitement as she waits for her father’s arrival but fear as he looks so different than she remembers, joy as they celebrate Chinese New Year together and finally sadness when he leaves again just a short time later.
A Gift also emphasizes the importance of family during Chinese New Year, even when it is impossible for everyone to be together. Amy’s mother is from China, and although Amy has uncles and an aunt there she’s never met, they always remember her during Chinese New Year. This year they send a special gift all the way from China, to show their love and bring her luck for the new year.
In New Year we meet a young boy who has just moved to Los Angeles from Hong Kong. At first he is excited to go to school, but he quickly becomes frustrated when he doesn’t understand anyone else, except for another Chinese student who is embarrassed to talk to him in Chinese. Yet with help from his teacher (also an immigrant, from Mexico) and his mother, he learns to be proud of where he is from. Through his art, he gains confidence and shares with the other students his special memories of Chinese New Year.
If the story of a little girl walking through the woods to give her grandmother a present sounds familiar, don’t worry! In Ruby’s Chinese New Year no one gets eaten by a wolf. In fact, all of the animals Ruby meets on her journey are friendly and want to help her take a special Chinese New Year card to Grandmother. A clever way to introduce children to the animals of the zodiac and learn about the true spirit of Chinese New Year along the way! Includes additional information about the zodiac and Chinese New Year crafts.
When Xingling learns from her PoPo (grandmother) about the Nian monster who used to terrorize the countryside every year on Lunar New Year, she never imagines it will come back to life! In The Nian Monster, this clever girl must figure out how to use the traditions of Chinese New Year to defeat the Nian Monster before it devours her and the whole city of Shanghai! Beautifully told story that not only showcases many of the features of Chinese New Year but also landmarks of Shanghai.
Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas is a fun retelling of the classic tale, this time set during Chinese New Year. Poor Goldy Luck just can’t catch a break. She tries to help her mother delivers a plate of turnip cakes to their neighbors (a family of pandas), but instead ends up stumbling into their apartment when they aren’t home, spilling the cakes, eating a whole bowl of congee, breaking a rocking chair, and – to top it all off – falling asleep in the little one’s bed! Find out how Goldy turns her situation around and finally finds some good luck to start off the new year. Includes a recipe for turnip cakes.
Inspired by the Danish folktale the Talking Pot, The Runaway Wok tells the story of a poor family in Beijing, who wishes they had enough food for a proper Chinese New Year feast to share with their neighbors. When the son finds an old, battered wok at the market, he is shocked when it begins to sing to him! Sure it must be magic, he brings it home, and soon the wok goes to work to make this a Chinese New Year to remember for this generous family and the other poor families of Beijing.
In The Runaway Rice Cake it’s the food itself that’s on the run. The Chang family only has enough rice flour to make one rice cake for the whole family to share for Chinese New Year, but when it is ready, it jumps up and runs out the door! The resolution to the story emphasizes not simply cleverness but kindness and generosity. In the end, the family is rewarded for their selflessness when they (and their rice cake) find someone in even greater need than themselves.
If you have a Curious George fan in your house, you won’t want to miss Curious George Dragon Dance. This time George’s curiosity leads him to investigate a Chinese New Year parade and help a new friend by becoming a lion dancer! Includes a craft.
Lion Dancer: Ernie Wan’s Chinese New Year is different from the others because it follows a real life boy as he gets ready to be a lion dancer for Chinese New Year. It is chock full of beautiful photos of this family as they prepare for and celebrate in New York City’s Chinatown.
Max Celebrates Chinese New Year is part of an easy reader series. In this simple story, Max learns all about Chinese New Year as he helps his friend Lily and her family celebrate. A good introduction to basic traditions of the holiday.
The Year of the Dog is told from the point of view of a Chinese American girl, one of the only non-Caucasians in her town. According to her mother, the Year of the Dog is all about finding yourself, so the young girl struggles with her identity: Should she be called Pacy (her Chinese name) or Grace (her American name)? Is she American or Chinese or Taiwanese, or can she be all three? And can she find her own special talent before the Year of the Dog is over? Author Grace Lin started the Pacy Lin series because it was the kind of book she wished she could have read when she was growing up. Pacy/Grace faces problems any child will recognize (whether a crush likes her, getting a role in the school production of The Wizard of Oz), but these are sometimes complicated by her background (can Dorothy be Chinese?) The characters in the book are so well-written, and the story is both poignant and quite funny. And what pulls it all together is the idea of Chinese New Year, and how the concept of the Year of the Dog shapes Grace/Pacy’s quest for identity. While most children’s novels take place over a summer or over one school year, this one starts and finishes on Chinese New Year. Will one year be enough time to find herself? Highly recommended.
What are your favorite Chinese New Year books for kids?
Welcome to our fifth annual Chinese New Year blog hop! Lunar New Year, more commonly known as Chinese New Year, starts on February 5. It is the beginning of the Year of the Pig, and we have lots of great ideas for celebrating it with kids! Don’t miss our series from last year, 2017, 2016 and 2015, and you can find even more on our Chinese New Year Pinterest board:
Take your kids around the world this holiday season by hosting an around the world holiday party! It’s the perfect way for a school club or a homeschool group to celebrate this festive season.
Host an Around the World Holiday Party for Kids
Last year we started a World Explorers Club in our homeschool group. Each month we get together to learn about a different country with the kiddos. Earlier this month the World Explorers Club put on our second annual around the world holiday party. Everyone had a blast!
Each family picks a country to represent and shows how a popular winter holiday is celebrated there.
At our party this year we learned about Christmas in Sweden, Russia, Italy, UK, and the Netherlands; Hanukkah in Israel; Diwali in India; Chinese New Year in China; and Ayyám-i-Há. (The Bahá’í holiday of Ayyám-i-Há was a bit of an exception, since it isn’t based in any one country).
For their chosen country, each family prepares 1) a craft or activity, 2) a traditional treat. So, for example, last year our family did the Philippines, so the kids made a version of a traditional star decoration and sampled some homemade coconut milk cake. For India (Diwali) this year we brought ladoos to share and helped the kids make paper diyas. For Sweden, the kids crafted some adorable Christmas gnomes and decorated cookies, while for Israel (Hanukkah) they played dreidel to win chocolate coins.
We have done this two different ways, so see which works for your group! Both times, we set up “stations” around the room, generally one country per table, and the kids could spread out and take turns visiting each.
Last year, the food and the craft were at each station, whereas this year we moved all the treats to a food table and saved them until the end. They were only able to get the food after completing a quiz about the countries they had learned about!
The holiday quiz! They had to work together to answer the questions before they could have their treats 🙂
Whichever way you do it, make sure to have their first stop by a station where kids decorate treat bags. They’ll need one to collect all the crafts they will be making! This is a great activity for them to do as people are arriving and setting up.
Next year, we definitely have to add a Mexican style piñata!
Travel the world with your children through these beautiful children’s books about West Africa! Below you will find picture books about Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger. They range from biographies and folk tales to modern stories about life in West Africa today. Share your favorites in the comments!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Children’s Books About West Africa
Children’s Books About Mali
Sundiata: Lion King of Mali is the story of the legendary founder of the Mali empire. (The present day country of Mali takes its name from this medieval kingdom in West Africa and represents part of the territory that this powerful kingdom occupied at its height). Based on oral tradition, this telling focuses on the hardships Sundiata had to overcome. to become king. The cut paper illustrations are beautiful, and the narration mimics the cadences of the traditional griot storytellers. I highly recommend this book to combat the typical silence in most classrooms about the history of African kingdoms.
My kids love graphic novels, so I was thrilled to come across a comic version of the history of Sundiata. Sundiata: A Legend of Africa makes a thrilling read for any child who loves adventure. It has intrigue, battles, and magic – a surefire way to convince young readers that history is anything but boring!
If your child has any chance of reading about medieval West Africa in one of their history books, it will likely be about Mansa Musa, the celebrated king who distributed so much gold on his pilgrimage to Mecca that he caused inflation in Egypt and the surrounding areas for years after. After his trip, he became the only African king featured on European maps of the continent. Mansa Musa: The Lion of Mali, gorgeously illustrated by the award-winning team Leo & Diane Dillon, tells of the powerful monarch whose fame carries down through history.
Never Forgotten, a Junior Library Guild selection, is a gorgeous picture book about a difficult subject – slavery. It reminds me a bit of Roots in that we come to know Musafa and his native Mali intimately before he is stolen away, so that we can more deeply appreciate the horror of what is lost and what might have been. Author Kissack, who dedicated herself to filling the gap in African American children’s literature, wrote that through this book she sought to “create a story that addresses that answers the question that all of us who are descendants of the Taken ask: ‘Were we missed?’ I answer with a resounding ‘Yes! We were never forgotten.” Illustrated by the same award-winning team that illustrated Mansa Musa: The Lion of Mali above.
The Hatseller And The Monkeys is the first book on this list from Coretta Scott King Honor winner Baba Wagué Diakité, who was born and raised in a small village in Mali. This tale is one he heard as a boy from his uncle, a version of a story popular in many parts of the world about a seller who has his wares stolen by monkeys while napping. As always, Wagué takes the opportunity to teach his young readers about the culture and art of Mali, as in the wide-brimmed dibiri hats sold by the main character.
The Magic Gourd is also by Baba Wagué Diakité. (For a treat, flip to the back cover to see a picture of him with his daughters, one of whom would grow up to collaborate with her father on a book featured below!) The Magic Gourd is a fable about a kind rabbit who receives a magic gourd as a thank you after helping a chameleon. The gourd, which fills magically with whatever the owner desires, keeps Rabbit and his loved ones well fed even during a famine. Yet when the magic gourd is stolen by a greedy king, it takes another magical gift from the chameleon and the rabbit’s quick thinking to retrieve the gift and teach the king a lesson in friendship and generosity.
I Lost My Tooth in Africa is one of the most famous children’s books set in Africa. Written by Baba Wagué Diakité’s daughter Penda Diakité and illustrated by him, it is based on the true story of when Penda’s younger sister Amina lost her tooth while they were visiting their father’s homeland of Mali. She is so excited when she finds out that when you lose a tooth in Africa, the African tooth fairy will give you a chicken! My kids loved this story, perhaps especially because they can relate to experience of losing teeth – and of visiting another country where their father was born.
Gabrielle Emanuel, who now works for NPR, spent a year in Mali, working in the health sector. She often read to a young friend there and became appalled at the lack of books that reflected the local landscape and culture. Her book The Everlasting Embrace is a response to this need. It is a beautiful tribute to mothers and the close bond they create with their babies through the traditional practice of babywearing. As a mother goes through her day – grinding millet, going to the market – we see the world as experienced from the loving “cocoon” in which the child spends her days.
My Baby is another beautiful book about a mother’s love for her child. It showcases the art of bogolan, a traditional technique of painting cloth with specially prepared mud. Nakunte learns the art from her mother and uses it to make cloth for weddings and funerals, until she is finally ready to make a beautiful cloth for her own baby, decorated with symbols teaching the little one about the creatures of her home.
Children’s Books About Burkina Faso
The Water Princess is a beautifully done book based on the childhood memories of supermodel Georgie Badiel. A young girl dreams of having clean water close by, but instead she and her mother (along with many other women and girls) must spend much of their day walking miles to fill their jars with dusty water. My children could not believe that this was still a problem today and had trouble imagining what it would be like to have to work so hard just for a drink of water – and that the drink wouldn’t even be clean. There is more information about lack of access to clean water at the back of the book. You can find out even more from the Georgie Badiel Foundation, which has made providing clean, accessible water a cornerstone of its work in Burkina Faso.
All Aboard for the Bobo Road is a fun children’s book about the Fulani people of Burkina Faso, written by Stephen Davies, who spent ten years living among them as a missionary. It focuses on a common experience there – riding in a minibus! It is a beautiful, colorful ride past a lake full of hippos, by a waterfall and old rock domes, through the forest and into the big city. See for yourself why Davies calls this region one of his favorite places in the world.
Children’s Book About Niger
Though I found many books about other countries in West Africa (especially Mali), unfortunately I was only able to find one about Niger. Don’t Spill the Milk! comes from author Stephen Davies (see above), a missionary who spent ten years living in Burkina Faso and regularly visiting Mali and Niger. This is the sweet story of a Fulani girl carefully delivering milk to her father, who is tending sheep high in the grasslands. As she walks to see her father, we see many features of the region, including the endangered West African giraffe. A story of love and understanding between a father and daughter.
This post on children’s books about West Africa is part of a series from Kid World Citizen, gathering reviews of children’s books about the countries of Africa. Don’t miss this incredible collection, coming soon!
The weather is finally warming up in our neck of the woods, so we celebrated by concocting some fruity, chocolate-y pops! Inspired by a traditional Puerto Rican treat, these tropical chocolate mango popsicles are full of fruity goodness – mango, banana, and coconut – plus a touch of decadence from the chocolate. What better way to celebrate the fact that summer is just around the corner? Plus, you don’t want to miss our giveaway of a wonderful new children’s activity coloring book all about Puerto Rico!
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Puerto Rico, the Island of Enchantment 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.
Tropical Chocolate Mango Popsicles
Summer is coming, which makes us all think about tropical beaches and relaxing by the waves. To bring a little taste of the tropics to our home in Northern California, we decided to make these scrumptious tropical chocolate mango popsicles. I was inspired by Puerto Rican limber, a frozen treat similar to popsicles and often made with fresh fruits and juices. You can do all kinds of combinations, but we were especially interested in mango – which was great because I had a huge bag of frozen mango in the freezer! Of course, if you have fresh, by all means use that, but it is often hard for us to find really good mangoes in our area, plus with kids, it’s so much easier to use frozen since it’s already peeled and chopped for you.
If you want an authentic mango limber, then I highly recommend trying this recipe from Modern Mami, or you can browse this great collection of healthy limber recipes! I wanted to do something a little different, so we added a little twist to our recipe by adding shredded coconut and banana, as well as chocolate. Cocoa powder alone is quite bitter, so I actually used hot chocolate mix (!) but if you don’t have this, just use cocoa powder and sugar to taste.
Ingredients (makes 6+ popsicles)
4 cups of mango (frozen or fresh)
honey to taste
3 cups water (add more or less depending on how thick you like it)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup hot chocolate mix (or combination of cocoa powder and sugar)
Combine all ingredients in blender. Taste and adjust for sweetness. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze.
I am endlessly impressed by the author’s talent as an illustrator but also the depth of her knowledge about the subject. Puerto Rico, La Isla del Encanto – Cuaderno de Ejercicios: Puerto Rico, The Island of Enchantment – Workbook is incredibly comprehensive, covering topics as varied as history, geography, government, religion, sports, food, and the arts. It contains nearly 200 workbook pages (plus answer keys) appropriate for elementary school and even older (though younger kids will definitely enjoy the coloring part of it!) There is so much to explore here, no matter what your child’s interests, so it is sure to be a hit!
The book is completely bilingual, so whether your kids read/write fluently in Spanish, just un poquito, or not at all, this is the perfect book to expose them to Spanish and the rich culture and history of the Island of Enchantment.
Even better, all of the profits from the first year of its publication go to recovery efforts in Puerto Rico. This book is a true labor of love, dedicated to the author’s homeland during its time of need. It is a great way to support Puerto Rico and teach kids about this beautiful island that they have surely been hearing about on the news.
And now you can win your own copy! Simply comment on this post, letting us know which topic about Puerto Rico you think your child would be most interested in! Geography, history, the arts, sports, or … ? Let us know!
Contest ends Tuesday, May 15, 2018, at midnight PT. Winner chosen by random selection. US Shipping Only
South Asian culture is so rich and diverse, that it is a fertile topic to return to again and again with your students. Whether you are interested in religion, history, the arts, food, or folk traditions, there is so much to explore. Here are some wonderful new children’s books about South Asian culture that you won’t want to miss!
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies 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 charge to you.
Learn About South Asian Culture Through Books
Let’s Celebrate Vaisakhi! is the latest Maya and Neel adventure, this time exploring a joyful spring harvest festival from the Punjab state in India. Fans of Maya and Neel won’t want to miss this latest adventure into the rich traditions of South Asian culture! Punjab, which borders Pakistan, is known for its large Sikh population, so Let’s Celebrate Vaisakhi! features a section on Sikhism as well as information about the food and dances associated with Vaisakhi. As always, the illustrations are so beautiful and engaging, and the wealth of information is presented in a way that is easily understood by young readers. I love how there is an emphasis on the natural world of the region and how it is showcased in the various aspects of the Vaisakhi festival.
One aspect of South Asian culture that cannot be glossed over is the caste system, which historically designated people into a rigid hierarchy from birth. The Boy Who Asked Why: The Story of Bhimrao Ambedkar is a beautifully done book about a civil rights hero you probably have never heard of who fought against this hierarchy and the injustices it engendered. Bhimrao Ambedkar grew up in the early twentieth century, when the caste system was still entrenched. As an Untouchable, the lowest caste of all, others were not allowed to touch or even interact with him. Overcoming incredible odds, Ambedkar pursued his education and became a successful lawyer, but he still faced many prejudices despite all of his achievements. He led a movement to break down the barriers that held the Untouchables back. Great book to inspire children to allow ask why in the face of injustice.
One of the smaller countries that makes up South Asian culture is Bhutan. In the West, it is principally known for its use of the “Gross National Happiness” instead of “Gross National Product.” This joyful, kind attitude can be clearly see in the lovely folktale Room in Your Heart. Can you imagine going to a country with no hotels, where instead visitors could stay with a local family? This was a reality until the mid-twentieth century in Bhutan. Inspired by this tradition, Room in Your Heart is a beautiful story of a woman who, despite having so little herself, welcomes those in need who appear at her door. Wonderful way to teach children about generosity, and that “there will always be room in your home, as long as there is room in your heart.”
Want to explore the world with your kids? Looking for fun, safe games online that actually teach something to your child? Here is a great new multicultural app for kids that everyone will love!
This post is sponsored by Hearts for Hearts Girls; however, all opinions are my own.
Multicultural App for Kids: Heart Street Market
Those of us with daughters often commiserate about the type of games that are targeted towards girls – all frills and rainbows without much substance. That is why I was so excited to learn about Hearts for Hearts Girls, whose mission is “to empower girls to become agents of change in their communities, their countries, and around the world. We want to change the world one heart at a time, and you can be a part of that dream!”
Kids can choose among 4 different characters who live in communities around the globe – India, Mexico, USA, and Ethiopia. In each community, you choose missions (games) – such as making music, playing soccer, or catching raindrops – that help build bring each neighborhood to life. Along the way, your child will learn about the culture of the place and the story of the character that lives there.
My kids’ favorite games so far as herding ducks (India) and the bakery (Mexico), but I can tell we’ve just scratched the surface. There are an incredible 100+ missions for more than 40 hours of exploring and playing!
And if your kids love fashion, they will enjoy dressing up the girls in more than 25 mix and match fashions, plus fabrics and templates to create their own.
I also have to comment about how much I loved the music. Usually when my kids are playing online I have to turn the volume down, because the music is so annoying, but with this multicultural app for kids, we actually turned the volume up, so we could listen to the wonderful global music!
But as a mom, what I really loved is that Heart Street Market is play with purpose – the 100+ missions available are all aimed towards helping 4 characters from around the world make a difference in their local communities. In fact, Hearts for Hearts Girls is partnered with World Vision® for programs that support gender equality, education, infrastructure, and humanitarian aid. So while you are having fun playing Heart Street Market, you are actually making a difference in the real world!
I should also add that though the app seems targeted more towards girls, my sons loved it. My 8 year old said it was “super fun,” while my 5 year old just said “mm-hmm” and kept on playing!
I highly recommend Heart Street Market for global learning fun and play with purpose (though your kids will just think of it as fun!) Find it on Google Play and iTunes and follow them on Facebook!
November 28, 2017GeographyComments Off on Geography Activity for Kids: Design a Continent
Ever since I was a girl I loved geography: I was fascinated by learning about different parts of the world and what made them unique. Here is a creative, fun geography activity to help children play with concepts as they imagine and design their own continent! The planning worksheet helps them think through elements to include, such as mountains, rivers, and various biomes, plus there is a drawing sheet provided for their final creation. You never know what they will come up with!
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Here We Are 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 charge to you.
Geography Activity for Kids: Design Your Own Continent
Here is a two-part geography activity for kids to design their own continent! For more on biomes, you can visit this page, recommended by the National Geographic for Kids website.
Right-click on the images below to download:
Page 1: Planning Page
Page 2: Drawing Page
This geography activity was inspired by the reading of a wonderful new children’s book. Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth is the latest from kid lit rock star Oliver Jeffers, well known as illustrator of the wildly popular The Day the Crayons Quit and author/illustrator of wonderful books like Stuck. This gorgeous new work is Jeffers’ response to becoming a father, as he tried to make sense of the world for his newborn son. With his characteristic sense of humor, Jeffers introduces us to the world, in terms of its physical makeup and place in the universe as well as the its human diversity. More fundamentally, it is an overview of the basics of life itself and how we should treat each other and the world we share. This is a beautiful book to inspire curiosity and wonder in children and adults alike and is sure to become a popular gift for baby showers and graduations!
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