I always enjoy coming across books that help bring the world to my children. It's an easy way to expose them to new people, cultures, languages and more - as we huddle together reading before bedtime. While a few stamps already adorn my sons' passports, books offer us an easy way to explore even more countries, people and places without leaving the comforts of our home in Chicago.
Below are some of our favorite globally inspired books that we've enjoyed together and have earned a special place on our reading list.
The Adventures of Bella and Harry / Lisa Manzione
My mother-in-law, Rhonda, scooped me on the new children's books series, The Adventures of Bella and Harry. The series, which I previously profiled on this blog, now includes 10 books, which profile the globetrotting adventures of chihuahuaha siblings, Bella and Harry, to Paris, Venice, London, Cairo, Athens, Barcelona, Edinburgh, Rome, Istanbul and Jerusalem.
Together, Bella and Harry travel the world with their family and learn about different countries and customs all along the way. And, thanks to the fun illustrations and creative banter between the two siblings, they sweep parents and kids up in their adventures!
The books really are a great way to give your children a taste of other countries and help them learn a few new foriegn language words and phrases. I can't wait to see where Bella and Harry head off to next!
Same, Same But Different / Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw
Same, Same But Different caught my eye during my last trip to the children's section of Barnes & Noble. While my sons were scouring the bookstore's selection of LEGO Ninjago books in sheer delight, I grabbed a copy of this book which features boys in two different places on the cover.
The book tells the story of two pen pals - Elliot, who lives in the U.S., and Kailash, who lives in India. By exchanging good, old-fashioned letters, they slowly share their likes and dislikes with eachother. Despite the distance and differences from one another, they two boys soon learn they're similar, but different. It shows that taking the time to get to know someone - even if they're completely different from you - is so worth it.
Dodsworth in New York / Tim Egan
My mother bought my younger son his first "Dodsworth" book - Dodsworth in New York. And, all it took was that one book to have my son hooked on Dodsworth and his faithful, infuriating and completely endearing friend, duck.
Since learning about Dodsworth and duck's adventures in New York, we've traveled with them to Paris and London, and need to get caught up on their latest antics in Rome and Toyko. In each book, their amusing antics have entertained my sons immensely - while showing them a different look at some of the world's most amazing cities.
The books truly do inspire my sons. Of course that means they wanted to turn our Euros into paper airplanes luck duck did while he and Dodsworth were together in Paris... Oh well. It was good for a few laughs for all of us.
Not For Parents / Lonely Planet Publications
On a recent trip to Barnes & Noble, I came across a totally different, but very cool set of travel books written especially for kids titled - Not for Parents. Of course, as a parent who loves to travel, I was intrigued and had to flip through the book, which I guess, is off limits to an adult like me.
The series of books by the folks at Lonely Planet aim to open up the world to a new generation of adventurers by sharing interesting insight about people, places, history and culture from countries across the globe. It includes The Travel Book with information every country in the world and four city books that provide kids with an insiders look at Paris, Rome, New York City and London. Maybe a Chicago book will be next?
World Atlas / Barefoot Books
I was lucky to stumble upon Barefoot Books at the Chicago's Book Festival in Hyde Park last October - and I fell in love with its books right on the spot!
Barefoot Books specializes in books that explore other countries and our planet, and offers a variety of bilingual children's books including one of my new favorites - Bear's Busy Family (La famille active de l'Ours) that I read to my sons in English and French. At the festival, I eyed the World Atlas, a hard cover, beautifully illustrated book that shows how communities across the globe have been influenced by their natural environments, and I immediately wanted to buy it for my sons.
It's Okay to be Different / Todd Parr
Okay, I know this book doesn't introduce young readers to new people, places or cultures, but I just had to include It's Okay to be Different in this list. I've loved this book since the first time I read it to my older son - when he was just a baby!
The message of It's Okay to be Different is such an important one to me - and I hope it sinks deep within my two sons. I truly want them to be okay with being different no matter if they're in Chicago, another part of the US, or a major European city. Because, to me, the key to being open to other people, places and experiences is being accepting of yourself and others.
And, I have to say that I just love Todd Parr's colorful and whimsical illustrations. They do such a wonderful job of driving his message home and making it have a visual and emotional impact. Needless to say, I am a big fan of this book and its important message.
I've already mentioned some of these books in this blog, but now they're in one handy place. Check back for more as I add new ones to the list.
I welcome any and all suggestions on other books that take children to new countries and introduce them to new people and cultures. Please share some of your favorites in the comments below.