Mongolia:  Sorghaghtani of Mongolia, by Shirin Yim Bridges

On the windswept steppes of Mongolia in the 13th century, a princess was given the chance to rule, and her story is outlined in this book. Sorghaghtani took lands that were ruined by war and made them wealthy again, brought mutual respect and cooperation to a downtrodden and distrustful people, and, in a battle of wits that was like a giant chess game, won the imperial throne for her sons, which gave them the largest empire in the world. Sections on the clothes she wore, the foods she ate, and why she is remembered today are included.

South Korea:  The Name Jar, by Yangsook Choi

Being the new kid in school is hard enough, but what about when nobody can pronounce your name? Having just moved from Korea, Unhei is anxious that American kids will like her. So instead of introducing herself on the first day of school, she tells the class that she will choose a name by the following week. Her new classmates are fascinated by this no-name girl and decide to help out by filling a glass jar with names for her to pick from. But while Unhei practices being a Suzy, Laura, or Amanda, one of her classmates comes to her neighborhood and discovers her real name and its special meaning. On the day of her name choosing, the name jar has mysteriously disappeared. Encouraged by her new friends, Unhei chooses her own Korean name and helps everyone pronounce it—Yoon-Hey.

World: This Is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from around the World, by Matt Lamothe

In Japan, Kei plays Freeze Tag, while in Uganda, Daphine likes to jump rope. While the way they play may differ, the shared rhythm of their days—and this one world we all share—unites them.  This genuine exchange provides a window into traditions that may be different from our own as well as mirrors reflecting our common experiences. Inspired by his own travels, Matt Lamonthe transports readers across the globe and back with this luminous and thoughtful picture book.

United States:  The Grand Canyon, by Jason Chin

Home to an astonishing variety of plants and animals that have lived and evolved within its walls for millennia, the Grand Canyon is much more than just a hole in the ground. Follow a father and daughter as they make their way through the cavernous wonder, discovering life both present and past.  Weave in and out of time as perfectly placed die cuts show you that a fossil today was a creature much long ago, perhaps in a completely different environment. Complete with a spectacular double gatefold, an intricate map and extensive back matter.

Costa Rica:  Lovely Amelia Travels, by Stephan Salazar Nelson

Amelia is a sweet, loving, curious and adventurous little girl. She loves to teach and tell other children about the cities and countries she visits. She likes trying new foods and loves learning new languages. She makes new friends with each unique adventure and absolutely loves the indigenous animals she meets along the way.  Through the pages of her cute little journal, Amelia gives us an exciting point of view while traveling with her parents on their exciting adventures.

May

World:  How I Learned Geography, by Uri Shulevitz

Having fled from war in their troubled homeland, a boy and his family are living in poverty in a strange country. Food is scarce, so when the boy's father brings home a map instead of bread for supper, at first the boy is furious. But when the map is hung on the wall, it floods their cheerless room with color. As the boy studies its every detail, he is transported to exotic places without ever leaving the room, and he eventually comes to realize that the map feeds him in a way that bread never could.


France:  The Giraffe that Walked to Paris, by Nancy Milton

Here is the beguiling true story of the first giraffe ever to live in Europe. The year was 1826, and the giraffe belonged to the pasha of Egypt, who decided to give her as a gift to the king of France. The giraffe journeyed first by boat to Marseilles, then on foot through the towns and villages of France, all the way to Paris. Her arrival in the capital was celebrated with a splendid royal parade, and everywhere she went she caused a sensation.

November

Colombia:  Biblioburro:  A True Story From Colombia, by Jeannette Winter

A man, his burros, and his books bring joy to children in remote Colombian villages in this inspiring book

based on a true story.  Watch the video for a quick preview.

Pakistan:  Malala's Magic Pencil, by Malala Yousafzai

​Nobel Peace Prize winner and New York Times bestselling author Malala Yousafzai's first picture book, inspired by her own childhood.  

​As a child in Pakistan, Malala made a wish for a magic pencil. She would use it to make everyone happy, to erase the smell of garbage from her city, to sleep an extra hour in the morning. But as she grew older, Malala saw that there were more important things to wish for. She saw a world that needed fixing. And even if she never found a magic pencil, Malala realized that she could still work hard every day to make her wishes come true.

India:  Same, Same But Different, by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw

Elliot lives in America, and Kailash lives in India. They are pen pals. By exchanging letters and pictures, they learn that they both love to climb trees, have pets, and go to school. Their worlds might look different, but they are actually similar. Same, same. But different!  Through an inviting point-of-view and colorful, vivid illustrations, this story shows how two boys living oceans apart can be the best of friends.

Burkina Faso:  The Water Princess, by Susan Verde

Based on supermodel Georgie Badiel’s childhood, a young girl dreams of bringing clean drinking water to her African village.  With its wide sky and warm earth, Princess Gie Gie’s kingdom is a beautiful land. But clean drinking water is scarce in her small African village. And try as she might, Gie Gie cannot bring the water closer; she cannot make it run clearer. Every morning, she rises before the sun to make the long journey to the well. Instead of a crown, she wears a heavy pot on her head to collect the water. After the voyage home, after boiling the water to drink and clean with, Gie Gie thinks of the trip that tomorrow will bring. And she dreams. She dreams of a day when her village will have cool, crystal-clear water of its own.

Vietnam:  A Different Pond, by Bao Chin

A 2018 Caldecott Honor Book that Kirkus Reviews calls “a must-read for our times,” A Different Pond is an unforgettable story about a simple event―a long-ago fishing trip. Graphic novelist Thi Bui and acclaimed poet Bao Phi deliver a powerful, honest glimpse into a relationship between father and son―and between cultures, old and new. As a young boy, Bao and his father awoke early, hours before his father's long workday began, to fish on the shores of a small pond in Minneapolis. Unlike many other anglers, Bao and his father fished for food, not recreation. A successful catch meant a fed family. Between hope-filled casts, Bao's father told him about a different pond in their homeland of Vietnam. Thi Bui's striking, evocative art paired with Phi's expertly crafted prose has earned this powerful picture books six starred reviews and numerous awards.

Australia:  Possum Magic, by Mem Fox

Grandma Poss uses her best bush magic to make Hush invisible. But when Hush longs to be able to see herself again, the two possums must make their way across Australia to find the magic food that will make Hush visible once more. “Another treat from Mem Fox that is sure to be treasured. The whimsical illustrations are a wonderful complement.”--Children’s Book Review Service

​​​​​United States of America:  America the Beautiful, by Katharine Bates

Inspired by Katharine Lee Bates's classic verse, Minor gives readers his first picture book-beautiful visual accompaniment for an American standard. Traversing the entire nation, from the Empire State Building to the Grand Tetons, from the Alaskan coast to the Florida Everglades; encompassing multiple eras, from Pilgrims to wagon trains, from the Wright brothers to NASA, Minor takes us on a journey across land and time-literally from sea to shining sea.

United Arab Emirates:  Lailah's Lunchbox:  A Ramadan Story, by Reem Faruqi

Lailah is in a new school in a new country, thousands of miles from her old home, and missing her old friends. When Ramadan begins, she is excited that she is finally old enough to participate in the fasting but worried that her classmates won’t understand why she doesn’t join them in the lunchroom.
Lailah solves her problem with help from the school librarian and her teacher and in doing so learns that she can make new friends who respect her beliefs. This gentle, moving story from first-time author Reem Faruqi comes to life in Lea Lyon’s vibrant illustrations. 

Russia:  The Blessing Cup, by Patricia Polacco 

As a young Russian Jewish girl in the early 1900s, Anna and her family lived in fear of the Czar’s soldiers, living a hard life and had few possessions. Their treasure was a beautiful china tea set.  A wedding gift to Anna’s parents, it came with a wish that “Anyone who drinks from this will have blessings from God, will never know a day of hunger, will know love and joy and they will never be poor.”  When Anna’s family leaves Russia for America, they bring the tea set and its blessings. A source of heritage and security, the tea set helps Anna’s family make friends and find better lives in America. A cup from the tea set—The Blessing Cup—became an anchor of family history, and it remains a symbol of lasting love more than a century later.

Hungary: If You Were Me and Lived in Hungary:  A Child's Introduction to Cultures Around the World (Volume 13), by Carole P. Roman

Welcome to Hungary! Join Carole P. Roman and learn about this beautiful country in Central Europe. Packed with colorful illustrations, children will learn about the sights, currency, food, and even a few Hungarian words. This critically acclaimed series has been embraced by children, parents, and educators. Deceptively simple, it is jam packed with a vast array of information to ignite any child's interest in the world around them.  

World: At the Same Moment Around the World, by Clotilde Perrin

Discover Benedict drinking hot chocolate in Paris, France; Mitko chasing the school bus in Sofia, Bulgaria; and Khanh having a little nap in Hanoi, Vietnam! Clotilde Perrin takes readers eastward from the Greenwich meridian, from day to night, with each page portraying one of (the original) 24 time zones. Strong back matter empowers readers to learn about the history of timekeeping and time zones, and to explore where each of the characters lives on the world map. A distinctive educational tool, this picture book's warm, unique illustrations also make it a joy to read aloud and admire.

Germany:  A New Coat for Anna, by Harriet Ziefert

"A fresh and moving story of a mother's dedication to acquire a coat for her daughter in post-World War II hard times. Anna's mother decides to trade the few valuables she has left for wool and for the services of a spinner, a weaver, and a tailor. Lobel's pictures do a tremendous job of evoking the period. Insightful and informative, this may make children consider how precious the ordinary can become in times of turmoil."--(starred) Booklist.  

India:  Bucket of Blessings, by Kabir Sengal and Surishtha Sehgal 

A beautiful myth from India comes to life in this enchanting, New York Times bestselling picture book.  Near a majestic mountain in a vast jungle with many mango trees, it has not rained for weeks and weeks. The village well and pond are dry. Monkey and his friends look everywhere for water, but they have no luck. And then Monkey remembers a story his mama used to tell him, a story about how peacocks can make it rain by dancing. So he sets out to see if the story is true…This little-known legend, told with dramatic rhythm and illustrated with the colors and textures of India, is sure to delight and inspire.

March

Pakistan:  Four Feet, Two Sandals, by Karen Lynn Williams

​When relief workers bring used clothing to a refugee camp in Pakistan, ten-year-old Lina is thrilled when she finds a sandal that fits her foot perfectly - until she sees that another girl has the matching shoe. But soon Lina and Feroza meet and decide that it is better to share the sandals than for each to wear only one. 

Costa Rica:  The Umbrella, by Jan Brett

A walk through the Costa Rican cloud forest provides a wonderfully lush setting for Jan Brett's beloved animal illustrations. When Carlos drops his umbrella to climb a tree for a better view of the animals, they all cram into the banana-leaf umbrella as it floats by--from the little tree frog to the baby tapir to the big jaguar and more. It gets so crowded in the umbrella that there isn't even enough room for a little hummingbird! So over the umbrella tumbles, everyone falls out, and poor Carlos comes back wondering why he didn't see any animals all day. 

I Call My Grandma Nana,

by Ashley Wolff

Ghana:  Emmanuel's Dream:  The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, by Laurie Ann Thompson

Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah's inspiring true story—which was turned into a film, Emmanuel's Gift, narrated by Oprah Winfrey—is nothing short of remarkable. Born in Ghana, West Africa, with one deformed leg, he was dismissed by most people—but not by his mother, who taught him to reach for his dreams. As a boy, Emmanuel hopped to school more than two miles each way, learned to play soccer, left home at age thirteen to provide for his family, and, eventually, became a cyclist. He rode an astonishing four hundred miles across Ghana in 2001, spreading his powerful message: disability is not inability. Today, Emmanuel continues to work on behalf of the disabled. 

Kenya:  Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya, by Donna Jo Napoli and Kadir Nelson

Through artful prose and beautiful illustrations, Donna Jo Napoli and Kadir Nelson tell the true story of Wangari Muta Maathai, known as “Mama Miti,” who in 1977 founded the Green Belt Movement, an African grassroots organization that has empowered many people to mobilize and combat deforestation, soil erosion, and environmental degradation. Today more than 30 million trees have been planted throughout Mama Miti’s native Kenya, and in 2004 she became the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Wangari Muta Maathai has changed Kenya tree by tree—and with each page turned, children will realize their own ability to positively impact the future.

World: Goal!  Football Around the World, by Caio Vilela

"Where there' s a ball . . . there will always be someone who wants to play football."  This book celebrates a hugely popular game, played all over the world - sometimes on a top quality football pitch, sometimes in the desert, sometimes on the street. With action photographs from 15 countries, this uplifting book shows the joy of football, wherever it is played, as well as its ability to unite children across the globe.

World:  I Call My Grandpa Papa, by Ashley Wolff

No matter what name you call your grandpa or grandma, one thing is for

sure:  it's always fun to spend time with the one you love--who loves you

right back.  Ashley Wolff's musical text and colorful collage artwork pay tribute

to the special bond between children and their grandfathers and grandmothers.


World: Atlas of Adventures: A collection of natural wonders, exciting experiences and fun festivities from the four corners of the globe, by Rachel Williams

Set your spirit of adventure free with this lavishly illustrated trip around the world. Whether you're visiting the penguins of Antarctica, joining the Carnival in Brazil, or a canoe safari down the Zambezi River, this book brings together more than 100 activities and challenges to inspire armchair adventurers of any age.

Ireland:  This is Ireland, by Miroslav Sasek

This is Ireland, first published in 1964, brings the Emerald Isle to life, where the shamrock grows and a leprechaun stands at the end of every rainbow, guarding a crock of gold. There's Dublin with its bustling crowds, tall steeples, and Trinity College; there's Clonmacnois, the burial place of kings; there's the Blarney Stone to kiss for eloquence, and much, much more in this verdant, friendly land filled with enchanted lakes and mountains that fall steep to the sea.

​​​Chad:  Rain School, by James Rumford

It is the first day of school in Chad, Africa. Children are filling the road.  When he and the other children arrive at the schoolyard, they find no classroom, no desks. Just a teacher. "We will build our school," she says. "This is our first lesson."  James Rumford, who lived in Chad as a Peace Corps volunteer, fills these pages with vibrant ink-and-pastel colors of Africa and the spare words of a poet to show how important learning is in a country where only a few children are able to go to school.

Afghanistan:  The Wooden Sword:  A Jewish Folktale from Afghanistan, by Ann Redisch Stampler

Disguised in servant's clothes, an Afghani shah slips out of his palace to learn more about his people. When he encounters a poor Jewish shoemaker full of faith that everything will turn out just as it should, the shah grows curious. Vowing that no harm will befall the poor man, he decides to test that faith, only to find that the shoemaker's cheerful optimism cannot be shaken. But the biggest challenge of the poor man's life is yet to come! Ann Stampler's retelling of this classic Afghani Jewish folktale is enriched by Carol Liddiment's charming and vivid paintings.

By combining the Read Around the World book list with The Passport Club, a solid foundation is laid for students to develop global literacy.  Knowing locations of countries on the map is the first step, or the ABC’s, of global literacy.  Reading children's books with multicultural settings and characters connects your students to the world around them.  The best teachers read to their kids every day and can easily infuse global education into their routine by incorporating these suggestions. 

Check out The Passport Club Pinterest boards for even more monthly resources.

Cuba:  Drum Dream Girl:  How One Girl's Courage Changed Music, by Margarita Engle 

Girls cannot be drummers. Long ago on an island filled with music, no one questioned that rule—until the drum dream girl. In her city of drumbeats, she dreamed of pounding tall congas and tapping small bongós. She had to keep quiet. She had to practice in secret. But when at last her dream-bright music was heard, everyone sang and danced and decided that both girls and boys should be free to drum and dream.  Inspired by the childhood of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Chinese-African-Cuban girl who broke Cuba's traditional taboo against female drummers, Drum Dream Girl tells an inspiring true story for dreamers everywhere.

Chile:  My Name is Gabriela/Me llamo Gabriela (Bilingual), by Monica Brown

Gabriela Mistral loved words and sounds and stories. Born in Chile, she would grow to become the first Nobel Prize-winning Latina woman in the world. As a poet and a teacher, she inspired children across many countries to let their voices be heard. This beautifully crafted story, where words literally come to life, is told with the rhythm and melody of a poem. 

South Africa:  Nelson Mandela, by Kadir Nelson

In this picture book biography, award-winning author and illustrator Kadir Nelson tells the story of Mandela, a global icon, in poignant free verse and glorious illustrations. It is the story of a young boy's determination to change South Africa, and of the struggles of a man who eventually became the president of his country by believing in equality for all people, no matter the color of their skin. Readers will be inspired by Mandela's triumph and his lifelong quest to create a more just world.  An author's note at the back retells the story of Mandela's fight against apartheid in simple prose, and takes the story further, including Mandela's Nobel Peace Prize. A short bibliography lists additional sources for readers who want to find out more.

Japan:  All About Japan: Stories, Songs, Crafts and Games for Kids, by Willamarie Moore

Two friends, a boy from the country and a girl from the city, take us on a tour of their beloved land through their eyes. They introduce us to their homes, families, favorite places, school life, holidays and more!  A cultural adventure for kids, All About Japan offers a journey to a new place—and ways to bring it to life! Dive into stories, play some games from Japan, and learn some Japanese songs. 

Mauritania:  Deep in the Sahara, by Kelly Cunnane

​Lalla lives in the Muslim country of Mauritania, and more than anything, she wants to wear a malafa, the colorful cloth Mauritanian women, like her mama and big sister, wear to cover their heads and clothes in public. But it is not until Lalla realizes that a malafa is not just worn to show a woman's beauty and mystery or to honor tradition—a malafa for faith—that Lalla's mother agrees to slip a long cloth as blue as the ink in the Koran over Lalla's head, under her arm, and round and round her body.

Nigeria:  My Dog is Barking, by Linda Taylor

Do you know someone who lives in Africa? Have you ever wondered what it's like there? My Dog Is Barking paints a picture of life in Nigeria outside the kitchen window of a missionary's house.

In September students study continents and physical regions instead of countries.  These books can be used to introduce students to the world in the first month and are not country-specific.  They can be used throughout the year to promote curiosity, empathy, tolerance and respect, which are all hallmarks of global competency. 

World:  Throw Your Tooth on the Roof:  Tooth Traditions from Around the World, by Selby Beeler

What do you do when you lose a tooth? Do you put it under your pillow and wait for the tooth fairy? Not if you live in Botswana! In Botswana,

children throw their teeth onto the roof. In Afghanistan they drop their teeth down mouse holes, and in Egypt they fling their teeth at the sun!

Travel around the world and discover the surprising things children do when they lose a tooth. 

Ghana:  One Hen:  How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference, by Katie Smith Milway

After his father died, Kojo had to quit school to help his mother collect firewood to sell at the market. When his mother receives a loan from some village families, she gives a little money to her son. With this tiny loan, Kojo buys a hen.  A year later, Kojo has built up a flock of 25 hens. With his earnings Kojo is able to return to school. Soon Kojo's farm grows to become the largest in the region.  Kojo's story is inspired by the life of Kwabena Darko, who as a boy started a tiny poultry farm just like Kojo's, which later grew to be the largest in Ghana, and one of the largest in west Africa. Kwabena also started a trust that gives out small loans to people who cannot get a loan from a bank.  One Hen shows what happens when a little help makes a big difference. The final pages of One Hen explain the microloan system and include a list of relevant organizations for children to explore. 

World: The Map of Good Memories, by Fran Nuno

There are places that remind us of happy moments. Zoe, a little girl who has to flee from her city with her family because of a war, remembers them before she leaves. She uses them to draw a “map of good memories,” knowing that they will always be with her.

India:  Monsoon, by Uma Krishnaswami

Children play, birds call, and grownups go about their business during the hot days of summer in northern India. But in the bustle of street and marketplace, everyone is watching, waiting for those magical clouds to bring their gift of rain to the land. Through the observations of one young girl, the scents and sounds, the dazzling colors, and the breathless anticipation of a parched cityscape are vividly evoked during the final days before the welcome arrival of the monsoon.  Rhythmic prose and vivid chalk pastels flood the senses and take the reader on a tour of diverse urban India.

Iraq​​:  Lost and Found Cat:  The True Story of Kunkush's Incredible Journey, by Doug Kuntz and Amy Shrodes

When an Iraqi family is forced to flee their home, they can’t bear to leave their beloved cat, Kunkush, behind. So they carry him with them from Iraq to Greece, keeping their secret passenger hidden away.  But during the crowded boat crossing to Greece, his carrier breaks and the frightened cat runs from the chaos. In one moment, he is gone. After an unsuccessful search, his family has to continue their journey, leaving brokenhearted.  A worldwide community comes together to spread the word on the Internet and in the news media, and after several months the impossible happens.  This remarkable true story is told by the real people involved, with the full cooperation of Kunkush’s family.

Gambia:  One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia, by Miranda Paul

Plastic bags are cheap and easy to use. But what happens when a bag breaks or is no longer needed? In Njau, Gambia, people simply dropped the bags and went on their way. One plastic bag became two. Then ten. Then a hundred.  The bags accumulated in ugly heaps alongside roads. Water pooled in them, bringing mosquitoes and disease. Some bags were burned, leaving behind a terrible smell. Some were buried, but they strangled gardens. They killed livestock that tried to eat them. Something had to change.  Isatou Ceesay was that change. She found a way to recycle the bags and transform her community. This inspirational true story shows how one person's actions really can make a difference in our world.

December

​​​Canada:  Crossing Niagara: The Death-Defying Tightrope Adventures of the Great Blondin, by Matt Tavares

When the Great Blondin announced that he was going to walk from America to Canada across the Niagara River on a rope that was more than 1,100 feet long and just 3 inches wide, hanging 160 feet above the raging river, people came from everywhere. Some came to watch him cross. Some came to watch him fall. Some thought he wouldn’t show up at all. But he did show up. And he did walk across the river. And then he did something else amazing. He crossed the river on that tightrope again and again, adding another death-defying flourish each time. 

January

​​Japan:  One Leaf Rides the Wind, by Celeste Mannis

Filled with lush illustrations, this counting book reveals both the pleasure and the tranquility of the Japanese garden, while introducing haiku poetry, with eleven poems that are simple and easy to follow. Follow along as the young girl explores the beauty of the garden, and discover the fun of haiku.


Cambodia:  A Path of Stars, by Anne Sibley O'Brien 

Dara's grandmother, Lok Yeay, is full of stories about her life growing up in Cambodia, before she immigrated to the United States. Lok Yeay tells her granddaughter of the fruits and plants that grew there, and how her family would sit in their yard and watch the stars that glowed like fireflies. Lok Yeay tells Dara about her brother, Lok Ta, who is still in Cambodia, and how one day she will return with Dara and Dara's family to visit the place she still considers home. But when a phone call disrupts Lok Yeay's dream to see her brother again, Dara becomes determined to bring her grandmother back to a place of happiness. 

Brazil:  Rain, Rain, Rain Forest, by Brenda Z. Guiberson

Come explore the rain forest!
A downpour wakes the creatures of the rain forest. Howler monkeys roar and drink the water that drips from nearby leaves. Birds with rainbow beaks fly in search of shelter. A poison dart frog finds a tiny pool where her tadpoles can grow. In a place that gets twenty feet of rain a year, it is a way of life.  Vibrant, colorful collages and an inviting text take young readers on an exhilarating tour of the tropical rain forest.

Venezuala:  The Streets Are Free, by Kurusa

This inspiring book is based on the true story of the children of the barrio of San Jose de la Urbina in Caracas, Venezuela. There are no parks where they live, and the children must play in the streets. They ask the mayor for an empty lot to build a playground, but all they get are campaign promises. They know that they are the only ones who will make something happen, so they get their friends and family involved until the whole barrio unites to create a space of their own.

September - all year

World:  If You Lived Here, by Giles Laroche

Step into unique homes from around the world and discover the many fascinating ways in which people live and have lived.If you lived in the mountains of southern Spain, your bedroom might be carved out of a mountain. If you lived in a village in South Africa, the outside of your house might tell the story of your family. And if you lived in a floating green house in the Netherlands, you could rotate your house to watch both the sunrise and sunset.

China:  Ruby's Wish, by Shirin Yim Bridges

Ruby is unlike most little girls in old China. Instead of aspiring to get married, Ruby is determined to attend university when she grows up, just like the boys in her family. Based upon the inspirational story of the author's grandmother and accompanied by richly detailed illustrations, Ruby's Wish is an engaging portrait of a young girl who's full of ambition and the family who rewards her hard work and courage.

Sweden:  Lucia Morning in Sweden, by Ewa Rydaker

In the busy house of the Svennson family, everyone is getting ready for the Swedish holiday of Lucia Day, December 13. The book tells the story of Santa Lucia through the eyes of three children in modern-day Sweden. It describes their giddy activities, brought to life in colorful, full-page illustrations, and also provides sheet music, recipes, and sewing patterns for the costumes traditionally worn by children on this day, when many Swedish people celebrate the legacy of Lucia and the coming of the light with coffee, saffron buns, ginger snaps, and wonderful singing. One of the most beloved and celebrated traditions of the Swedish people, Lucia Day also signifies that the Christmas holiday is getting close. Although the book is aimed at the 5- to 10-year-old age group, many parents and grandparents may enjoy reading it to younger children.

Czech Republic:  The Wall:  Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain, by Peter Sis

​"I was born at the beginning of it all, on the Red side―the Communist side―of the Iron Curtain." Through annotated illustrations, journals, maps, and dreamscapes, Peter Sís shows what life was like for a child who loved to draw, proudly wore the red scarf of a Young Pioneer, stood guard at the giant statue of Stalin, and believed whatever he was told to believe.  The Wall is a 2007 New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book of the Year, a 2008 Caldecott Honor Book, a 2008 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

Ethiopia:  The Best Beekeeper of Lalibela: A Tale from Africa, by Cristina Kessler

Long ago in the mountains of Ethiopia, the bees arrived in Lalibela, and people poured in from all around to procure their sweet honey. A young girl named Almaz vows one day her honey will be the best of all. When she shares her dream with the current beekeepers, they laugh her away and tell her it's men's work. Almaz is determined to prove them all wrong, but she can barely climb the trees to reach the hives. The men think she's learned her lesson, but they don't know Almaz. She's steadfast in her pursuit of the honey. In this spirited text by Cristina Kessler, with stunning illustrations from Leonard Jenkisn, perseverance is the key to achieving one's dreams.

february

April

World: Africa is Not a Country, by Margy Burns Knight and Anne Sibley O'Brien

Enter into the daily life of children in the many countries of modern Africa. Countering stereotypes, Africa Is Not a Country celebrates the extraordinary diversity of this vibrant continent as experienced by children at home, at school, at work, and at play

​​Planting seeds of global literacy.

Kenya:  14 Cows for America, by Carmen Agra Deedy

In June of 2002, an unusual ceremony begins in a far-flung village in western Kenya. An American diplomat is surrounded by hundreds of Maasai people. A gift is about to be bestowed and he is there to accept it.  A mere nine months have passed since the September 11 attacks, and hearts are raw. Tears flow freely from American and Maasai as these legendary warriors offer their gift to a grieving people half a world away.  For a heartsick nation, the gift of fourteen cows emerges from the choking dust and darkness as a soft light of hope and friendship.

New Zealand:  The Lost Penguin:  The Story of A Wayward Emperor Penguin in New Zealand,by A. Penguin

In 2011, a juvenile emperor penguin was found eating sand on a beach in New Zealand, some 2,000 miles from his home in Antarctica. He was taken to a local zoo where he was placed in a cold room to recover. With charming illustrations made with his flipper, he recounts his ordeal. When he left for home later that year with a GPS tracker glued to his feathery bum, over quarter of a million people followed his release on the tracker's website. The Lost Penguin is a poetic and whimsical story of a wayward penguin who learns that sometimes the most important lesson in life may come as a surprise: Don't eat the yellow snow!

Austria:  A Gift for Mama, by Linda Ravin Lodding

Oskar sets out—with a single coin—to find the perfect gift for his mother. And he spots it at once: a beautiful yellow rose. But when he meets an artist, Oskar trades the rose for a paintbrush. And when he meets a conductor, he trades the paintbrush for a sheet of music. . . .The bustling streets are full of interesting people and delightful possible presents, and Oskar trades one gift for another, and another, and another! But what he finds by the end of the day is even more precious.  Simple kindness is at the heart of this enchanting, gloriously-illustrated tale.

World:  Me on the Map, by Joan Sweeney

Using the premise that simple drawings can be maps, the book begins with crayon drawings of the floor plans of the girl's room and house. The concept becomes progressively more complex, as her horizons expand from home to street, to town, to state, to country, and finally to the world. Colorful illustrations show a composite of the entire area that is being charted on the facing page. On each successive page, the child points out her street, hometown, state, and country. The process then reverses as she finds the U.S. on a world map and works back down the scale to her own room again. 

Finland:  The Princess Mouse:  A Tale of Finland, by Aaron Shepard

In Mikko's family, young men find their sweethearts by cutting down a tree and following where it points. As his father says, "That's how we've done it, and that's how we always will."  Though Mikko's brother makes his tree fall how he wants, Mikko's tree seems to have ideas of its own. So, what is Mikko to do when it sends him into the forest and all he finds there is a mouse? And what if the mouse offers gladly to be his sweetheart, and even passes the test that is set by Mikko's father?  This sweet tale from Finland shows that even a mouse can be special, and that trees may well fall true.

Kenya:  Rhino in the House:  The Story of Saving Samia, by Daniel Kirk

Anna devoted her life to protecting the wildlife of the region, founding a reserve in Kenya called Lewa Downs to care for them. Anna kept a watchful eye on the animals, especially the rhinos. One day, Anna found a small black rhino calf, likely abandoned by its mother. So she nurtured the calf, named it Samia, fed it special formula, and even let it sleep in her bed.  Everywhere Anna went Samia was never far behind. But with time, Samia got bigger . . . and bigger—to the point where she couldn’t fit inside Anna’s house any longer. It was time for Anna to make the tough decision she always knew she would have to make at some point or another: She would need to reintroduce Samia to the wild so she could lead her life with the rest of her kind.

South Sudan:  A Long Walk to Water, by Linda Sue Parks

The New York Times bestseller A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about two eleven-year-olds in Sudan, a girl in 2008 and a boy in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hours’ walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the "lost boys" of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay. Enduring every hardship from loneliness to attack by armed rebels to contact with killer lions and crocodiles, Salva is a survivor, and his story goes on to intersect with Nya’s in an astonishing and moving way.

Iran:  Mystery Bottle, by Kristen Balouch 

A boy in Brooklyn receives a package from Iran. When he opens up the mysterious bottle that lies within, a great wind transports him over the oceans and mountains, straight into the arms of his grandfather.  Despite being separated by politics and geography, the boy and his Baba Bazorg can share an extraordinary gift, the bond of their love.

​​​The Netherlands:  Boxes for Katje, by Candice Fleming

After World War II there is little left in Katje's town of Olst in Holland. Her family, like most Dutch families, must patch their old worn clothing and go without everyday things like soap and milk. Then one spring morning when the tulips bloom "thick and bright," Postman Kleinhoonte pedals his bicycle down Katje's street to deliver a mysterious box – a box from America! Full of soap, socks, and chocolate, the box has been sent by Rosie, an American girl from Mayfield, Indiana. Her package is part of a goodwill effort to help the people of Europe. What's inside so delights Katje that she sends off a letter of thanks – beginning an exchange that swells with so many surprises that the girls, as well as their townspeople, will never be the same.

Switzerland:  A Bell for Ursli, by Selena Chönz 

"A Bell for Ursli" is a classic Swiss children's story, with pictures by award-winning Swiss illustrator Alois Carigiet. Ursli is a little boy who lives in the Swiss Alps. He must find a big cowbell so that he can lead the spring procession through his village, so he goes alone to his family's chalet high up in the mountains. There, he spends a lonely, scary night. Generations of Swiss children have grown up with Ursli but this is the first time his adventures have been widely available in English.

Egypt:  Day of Ahmed's Secret, by Florence Perry Heide

As young Ahmed delivers butane gas to customers all over the city of Cairo, he thinks, I have a secret. All day long, as he maneuvers his donkey cart through streets crowded with cars and camels, down alleys filled with merchants' stalls, and past buildings a thousand years old, Ahmed keeps his secret safe inside. It is so special, so wonderful, that he can reveal it only to his family, only when he returns home, only at the end of the day.  

Mexico:  Dia de Los Muertos, by Roseanne Greenfield Thong

It's Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and children throughout the pueblo, or town, are getting ready to celebrate! They decorate with colored streamers, calaveras, or sugar skulls, and pan de muertos, or bread of the dead. There are altars draped in cloth and covered in marigolds and twinkling candles. Music fills the streets. Join the fun and festivities, learn about a different cultural tradition, and brush up on your Spanish vocabulary, as the town honors their dearly departed in a traditional, time-honored style. 

​​Canada:  M is for Maple, by Michael Ulmer

"M is for Maple" is a shining tribute to Canada. From British Columbia to Newfoundland, this Canadian alphabet book shares our nation's symbols, history, people and culture. In clever rhymes and informative text, author Mike Ulmer shares the unique details of Canada. Illustrator Melanie Rose has captured the beauty and splendor of Canada, from the Northern Lights to brave Mounties and the beautiful cities of Toronto, Victoria, and Quebec. Destined to become a national classic, "M is for Maple" is a treasure for Canadians young and old.

October

REad Around the World Book List

Malawi:  The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, by William Kamkwamba

The New York Times bestselling memoir of the heroic young inventor who brought electricity to his Malawian village adapted for young readers. 
When a terrible drought struck William Kamkwamba's tiny village in Malawi, his family lost all of the season's crops, leaving them with nothing to eat and nothing to sell. William began to explore science books in his village library, looking for a solution. There, he came up with the idea that would change his family's life forever: he could build a windmill. Made out of scrap metal and old bicycle parts, William's windmill brought electricity to his home and helped his family pump the water they needed to farm the land.  ​