Bring the world right into your living room! By sharing books with a wide range of settings, you can discover new lands, people, and customs and expand your child’s cultural horizons—no passport required!
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Wangari’s Trees of Peace:
A True Story from Africa
by Jeanette Winter
Wangari grew up under the canopy of the Kenyan rain forest. But when she returns to her homeland after years in America, she’s shocked to discover that there are hardly any trees left. Wangari is determined to change that and sets out to bring the green back to Africa.
Four Feet, Two Sandals
by Karen Lynn Willams
and Khandra Mohammed
A powerful way to introduce children to the plight of refugees all around the world, Four Feet, Two Sandals is a beautifully told tale of friendship, kindness, and hope in the midst of suffering and sadness. (War/refugee themes may not be suitable for all children.)
Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters:
An African Tale
by John Steptoe
Mufaro has two beautiful daughters, but only one is kind. When a search is announced to find a beautiful woman who is also worthy to become the king’s wife, Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters discover that kindness shown in secret may be more visible than you think.
Boxes for Katje
by Candace Fleming
In the dark days after WWII, the postman brings Katje a box filled with much-needed gifts. Suddenly a small kindness blossoms into full-blown friendship. But that’s just the beginning for two young girls, their families, and, eventually, their communities.
by Ying Chang Compestine
Vinson is excited about Grandfather’s visit from China, but his excitement soon wears thin. Grandfather’s Tai Chi moves are too slow. And why does he keep calling Vinson Ming Da? But then Grandfather helps Vinson realize that being Chinese is pretty special.
The Cats in Krasinski Square
by Karen Hess
In this uplifting story of bravery and survival in the most difficult of times, a young girl devises a plan to smuggle food to hungry Jews in the Warsaw ghetto. Excitement and suspense grow as the girl and her feline friends work to outsmart the Gestapo.
Biblioburro: A True Story from Colombia
by Jeanette Winter
Luis loves books so much that he can’t stop collecting them, and now he’s filled his whole house with books. But Luis has a plan! With the help of his trusty burros, Alfa and Beto, he starts a mobile library, taking books to villages throughout Colombia so everyone can have a chance to enjoy them!
Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah
by Laurie Ann Thompson
When a baby boy with a deformed leg is born in Ghana, no one thinks he can possibly amount to anything. But as Emmanuel grows up, he becomes determined to prove the opposite. He sets off on a difficult journey that will take him all across Ghana and bring new hope to disabled people.
Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music
by Margarita Engle
Based on true events, this colorful picture book tells the story of a young girl living in Cuba in an era when only boys and men were allowed to play the drums. But that doesn’t stop her from always imagining her own rhythms and beats! Will she ever be allowed to follow her dreams?
by Taro Yashima
Chibi is different from the rest of the children at school. He’s always quiet, always alone, and he studies things that no one else would ever study. But the rest of the children are in for a surprise when a new teacher comes to school and shows them just how special Chibi really is.
The Egyptian Cinderella
by Shirley Climo
One of the oldest known versions of the Cinderella tale is retold in this stunning picture book. Beautiful Rhodopis is devastated when one of her favorite rose-red slippers is stolen by a falcon. But when the falcon drops the slipper in front of the Pharaoh, Rhadopis has no idea how her life is about to change!
The Empty Pot
A flower-loving Emperor needs someone to succeed him, so every child is given a single flower seed. Whoever grows the most beautiful flower will become Emperor. But when Ping plants his seed, nothing sprouts. Will an empty pot and Ping’s hard work be enough to please the Emperor?
When the trash problem in her village becomes too big to ignore, Isatou decides to do something about it. She collects as many plastic bags as she can and finds a way to turn worthless trash into something much more valuable, earning money and cleaning up her village all at the same time!
Ada lives in a village beside an enormous landfill. Every day, the pile of garbage grows bigger and bigger. But then a music teacher arrives with a crazy plan to recycle the trash for a very special purpose. Ada never imagined how his plan would change her life…and her village…forever!
A Refugee Family’s Journey
by Margriet Ruurs
Nizar Ali Badr’s stone-crafted illustrations provide a stunning and emotion-packed backdrop for Margriet Ruur’s powerful story of a family displaced by war. It’s a sad yet hopeful tale told in both English and Arabic. (War/refugee themes may not be suitable for all children.)
All the Colors of the Earth
by Sheila Hamanaka
With poetic text and rich, colorful illustrations, ethnic and cultural diversity is explored and celebrated. Hair and skin color is described with imaginative comparisons to plants, animals, and spices, showing that every child is unique and supremely special.
Hush! A Thai Lullaby
by Minfong Ho
In this soothing Caldecott medal-winning bedtime story, a Mother gently hushes a peeping lizard, a creeping cat, a leaping frog, a beeping duck, a sweeping buffalo, and even a shrieking elephant as her baby soundly sleeps. And before long, everyone is sleeping. Everyone that is, except the baby!
The Problem with Chickens
by Bruce McMillan
The ladies of an Icelandic farming village are out of eggs, so off they go to buy some chickens. At first, the ladies and the chickens are happy—until the chickens forget they’re chickens, that is! The ladies will have to come up with a very clever idea to solve their problem!
by Allen Say
Grandfather’s Journey traces a grandfather’s steps from the villages of Japan to the mountains of California and back again. Through the years, the strong attraction of the memories of “home” keeps the journey alive for generations of a Japanese-American family.
The Polar Bear Son: An Inuit Tale
by Lydia Dabcovich
Travel to the icy world of the Arctic with this charming tale of an old woman and the polar bear cub she adopts as her son. As the bear cub grows up, he provides for the woman by hunting and catching food for her. But when his life is threatened by jealous villagers, will the old woman be able to save him?
by Jeannie Baker
Richly detailed collage illustrations grace the pages of this side-by-side wordless picture book. Parallel panels follow two boys and their families through a single day. The difference is that the boys live in very different places: one in a western city, the other in a North African village.
by Shirin Yim Bridges
At the turn of the century, most little girls in China didn’t go to school. But although Ruby loved school and wanted to keep learning, only the boys in her family went to university. Until one day when Ruby’s grandfather gave her a surprise that changed everything.
by Mitsumasa Anno
Follow Anno as he rides through the streets and countryside of Northern Europe. In visually rich and often surprising detail, wordless pages tell the stories of each hamlet, farmyard, circus, and town square that Anno visits.
by Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus
Grandfather Gandhi offers a rare look into the private life of Mahatma Gandhi. As Arun Gandhi shares the lessons he learned growing up in his grandfather’s village, readers are drawn to appreciate and learn from the love and respect between a boy and his grandfather.
Somewhere in the World Right Now by Stacey Schuett
Have you ever wondered what the other side of the world is doing while you’re sound sleep? After all, when you lay your head down at the end of a day, a new day is just beginning somewhere else. Stacey Schuett explains world time zones in a lyrical and easy-to-understand way.
How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman
When you have a hankering for a piece of apple pie and the market is closed, what do you do? Well, you might have to stow away on a boat to Jamaica for sugar or hitch a ride to England for some cream. Because when you want apple pie, the world is your marketplace!
Around the World in 80 Poems
by James Berry
This collection of colorful poems celebrates the diversity that makes up our world. You’ll find poems that will make you laugh and some that will make you cry. But together they will leave you feeling inspired and amazed by the uniqueness and the beauty of our world and the people who call it home.
Take Me Out to the Yakyu
by Aaron Meshon
Baseball is popular in the United States, but it’s a fan favorite in Japan, too! Join a little boy and his grandfather at baseball (or yakyu!) games in both countries. The customs and the words may be different, but the game is the same no matter where you go!
by Baptiste Paul
Vibrant illustrations and fast, snappy prose bring a colorful Caribbean world to life as a group of children gather in their favorite place to play their favorite game. They don’t even care if it starts to rain or if they have to run in the mud—just so long as they can play ball!
Are you ready to take your children around the world with picture books? The journey begins at your local library! Download our Around the World with Picture Books Library List.
If you’re looking for even more picture books from around the world, Give Your Child the World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at a Time by Jamie C. Martin (Simple Homeschool) is an absolute treasure. Filled with more than 600 carefully chosen books for kids of all ages, this book is a wonderful resource for any family!
Is there a picture book from another country or culture that your family loves to read? Please share it in the comments and I’ll add it to our Readers’ Picks box!