When we introduce diverse cultures to kids, it enlarges their worlds. Picture books from different countries give kids an important appreciation for both other cultures and people.
In today’s list, many of the picture books are about foods! Very relatable to all kids, right!? Because we all eat. It’s a fun way to learn about different countries.
Read the books. Then, feast!
Picture Books From Countries Around the World
The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet! by Carmen Agra Deedy, illustrated by Eugene Yelhin
The villagers of La Paz think things would be better if they could just have peace and quiet. The mayor Don Pepe, outlaws noise and even singing. Years passed and a saucy rooster arrives at the village, loudly singing his morning song. Nothing Don Pepe does will keep the gallito from singing. Not cutting down the mango tree or putting him in a cage. He proclaims, “. . . a song is louder than one noisy little rooster and stronger than one bully of a mayor . . . And it will never die — so long as there is someone to sing it.” Luckily, the villagers remembered their songs and once again La Paz became a noisy place to live.
Precious Home by Ji Hyun Lee, illustrated by Jin Hwa Kim
The artwork in this book is AMAZING. But, so is the concept! The story starts by showing the boy’s home and what he does at home with his family. (Relatable!) The boy’s house, like yours, has a roof and walls and a window and door. Then the book shifts to homes in other parts of the world that may look different or be made from different materials. First, Thailand. It’s hot a humid there so houses are built on wooden poles. Next up is Togo, a country in Africa with soil houses. I love how the author also includes short explanations of the house features. For example, in Mongolia the houses are called gers and the informational text says “A leather strap tightly ties down the ger to keep it from blowing away.” Learn about houses in Russia and Greenland, too. Very interesting!
Juan’s Sweet and Spicy Memory by Hee Jung Yoon, ilustrated by Christopher Con
I like that this picture book is narrated in first person, from the perspective of a boy who is eager to share the traditions, foods, and culture of his beloved country of Mexico. Throughout the story are small informational paragraphs which give cool extra details.
Find Mom’s Wok by Jung Hee Kim, illustrated by Jung Ah Noh
Vibrant art pairs well with this delicious tale featuring the food of China. Shao Ming lives in China and her mom asks her to bring a wok to her uncle for tonight’s feast. On the way, Shao Ming visits the market, watches the impressive dragon parade, and . . . loses her mom’s special wok! Ut-oh. She tries to find it by visiting different places that sell food. Readers will discover the different foods and flavors of China — a spicy tofu meal, the tea ceremony, steamed crabs, dim sum, and more — as Shao searches all day. Reading this will make you want to have your own Chinese cuisine sampling.
We All Went on Safari: A Counting Journey through Tanzania by Laurie Krebs, illustrated by Julia Cairns
Gentle rhymes, some repetitive text (LOVE), and plenty of gorgeous safari vistas make you feel as though you’re along with this Maasai family as they spot (and count) wildebeests, lions, warthogs, and more animals on their safari. Absolutely lovely.
Jamal’s Journey by Michael Foreman
All he does is walk, walk, walk. Jamal’s a young camel who not only walks through the desert with the caravan but suddenly gets lost after a dust storm. Readers will learn what his life is like in the desert. How will he find his caravan? You’ll be surprised who guides Jamal to his family near the big city.
Kikuchi’s Sushi by Myung Sook Jeong, illustrated by Sul Hee Kook
This book is a celebration (and introduction) to Japanese food. Desperate to try sushi, Fox makes trades with the sushi restaurant owner. For example, Fox trades fresh spring water, fresh wasabi, and an eel. When Fox glibly observes how easy sushi is to make, Kikuchi shows him step by step the challenging art of making sushi. Later the two go to a festival together where they eat yummy Japanese candies. The last four pages of the book give factual information about Japan.
Grandpa Max’s Wurst by Ran Ju Kim, illustrated by Dorina Tessmann
Hans’ family makes sausages but the store isn’t doing well. Luckily, the Bratwurst store is mentioned in a travel guide. Now more people are stopping by and the local media wants to showcase the store. Hans’ father helps to sell the wurst in the big city — their family store is saved! The ending pages share information about Germany and German beer.
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