Books to Help Teach Kids About the World

Jambo Means Hello by Muriel Feelings
We all want to raise kids who respect people of different races, cultures, and religions. But what if your child doesn't live or go to school in an environment where she can learn firsthand about other ethnicities? That's where stories that celebrate the world's diversity come in.

Baby Says

By John Steptoe
The love between two African-American siblings is told in a series of simple, repeated baby words ("uh-oh," "no, no"). The book is great fun to read aloud.

Before You Were Here, Mi Amor

By Samantha R. Vamos
Members of a Latino family await the arrival of the new baby. Mami says to her: "Tu papi recited poesia cantada while strumming su guitarra, and tu abuela felt you kick." Check for translations in the glossary at the end.

More More More Said the Baby

By Vera B. Williams
Written in musical prose, these three culturally diverse stories featuring white, black, and Asian-American babies will delight your own little doodle.

Global Babies

By the Global Fund for Children
Your little one will love looking at the gorgeous faces in this peek-around-the-world book.

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes

By Mem Fox
You can count your little one's fingers and piggies as you read this sweet picture book about babies from all over the world.

Pio Peep! Traditional Spanish Nursery Rhymes

Selected by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy
Introduce your bebesita to these well-loved American Southwest and Latin-American rhymes, lullabies, and songs. English translations included.

Terrific for Toddlers

To Be a Kid By the Global Fund for Children
From Australia to Mozambique to the Philippines, kids are kids wherever you go. They explore, play, care for the earth and animals, share secrets with friends, and dream big.

My Granny Went to Market

By Stella Blackstone
Count Granny's purchases (six Kenyan drums! seven Russian nesting dolls!) as she travels around the world on her flying carpet.

What a Wonderful World

By George David Weiss and Bob Thiele
Combining the colorful drawings of children of many backgrounds with the lyrics of the song made famous by Louis Armstrong, this book is a wonderful way to show kids the beauty and friendship of the world around them.

The Colors of Us

By Karen Katz
We're cinnamon, French toast, the reddish brown of fallen leaves. These boldly illustrated pages celebrate the many-splendored shades of the skin we're in.

How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World

By Marjorie Priceman
Take a culinary tour of the globe while gathering ingredients: milk from England, semolina wheat from Italy, sugarcane from Jamaica, and apples from Vermont.

I'm Your Peanut Butter Big Brother

By Selina Alko
Writing through the eyes of her son, the author, part of an interracial couple, asks -- "Baby, what shade will you be? Pure coal black or coffee with lots and lots of cream? Ginger-cookie brown or midnight licorice purple?"

Perfect for Preschoolers

A Pair of Red ClogsBy Masako Matsuno
A young Japanese girl delights in the sound her new wooden shoes make on the stone road -- "kara koro, kara koro" -- until she cracks them. Will her mom buy her a new pair?

Mrs. Katz and Tush

By Patricia Polacco
When Larnel, a young African-American boy, asks an elderly Jewish widow to care for a scrawny kitten, a cross-cultural friendship is born.

Henry's First-Moon Birthday

By Leonore Look
A bossy older sister is in charge of preparing her baby brother's one-month birthday celebration. Dyeing eggs a lucky red and cooking up Chinese specialties is a lot of hard work for Jenny but worth it all when Henry smiles.

On My Way to Buy Eggs

By Chih-Yuan Chen
A Taiwanese father asks his little girl to go to the store and get the ingredients they need for their dinner's fried rice. Her walk is a magical adventure that speaks to every child's sense of imagination.

My Friend Jamal

By Anna McQuinn
The first book of the My Friend series (the second is My Friend Mei Jing) features playfully visual kid's-eye views of friendship that celebrate both childhood connection and cultural diversity.

Jambo Means Hello

By Muriel Feelings
Each page of this Swahili alphabet book will teach your child a new word as well as shine a light on East African culture. ("Karibu means welcome. A caller says, 'Hodi?' This means 'May I come in?' The reply is always 'karibu.'")
Originally published in the May 2009 issue of Parents magazine.

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