Books By Country or Culture
Erin Eitter Kono
Gorgeous illustrations fill this bedtime book that instantly draw both parent and child into a world of hula, swaying palm trees and towering volcanoes. Music and dance wrap their way around a mother and baby as many of the meaningful traditions of Hawaiian culture are gently and simply explained.
What does “aloha” and the aloha spirit mean? Why does the mother call her little one “keiki”? And how can a gourd called an ipu be a drum? Simple enough for the tiniest child but rich enough for older readers, this is beautiful book is a marvelous journey to a memorable Hawaiian paradise.
If the music of Hawaii captivates your interest, check out this related post:
This short but fact-filled book tells the complete history of the island of New Zealand through illustrations and one or two page descriptions of important events.
It starts with the arrival of the first Polynesians peoples around 800 BC and the volcanic eruptions that shaped the island and moves forward to more modern times of British and European settlers. It describes the culture clash between the old and the new, with a special emphasis on Maori history.
Written and illustrated by a graphic designer from NZ TV, this is an amazingly complete cultural history of New Zealand. My only complaint is that there are not similar books for other countries all over the globe – this book is a great mini-lesson in world history!
What if you lived on a beautiful island before the time that Europeans came to the New World? This book is set in just that time and place.
Morning Girl and her brother, Star Boy, live in a close-knit family and clan on an idyllic island. But they are as different as night and day. Set in Taino culture, the story follows both children as they discover who they are and how they belong to their family and their world.
Michael Dorris; the author, is a member of the Modoc tribe and an exceptional writer as well as a trained anthropologist. His portrayal of life in this early Native American setting is both accurate and unforgettable. This is a beautifully written and memorable book with an interesting historical twist at the end.
Written by Michael Rose Ramirez
There’s a certain magic to hummingbirds that makes them popular in folktales wherever they are found. But how did this unusual bird first come to be?
The hummingbird myth from Taino cultures tells of a beautiful young girl and a brave young man. Unfortunately their parents did not feel they should be friends and so they are separated.
Do they find a way to be together? And how does the hummingbird come into the story? This tale of young love and devotion weaves a magical tale around a beautiful creature and may make you think twice the next time you see hummingbird in real life!
Written and Illustrated By George L. Crespo
If you lived on an island, the sea would probably be an important part of any legend or creation tale. This creation tale; retold and illustrated by George Crespo, was collected over 500 years ago by a Spanish friar who came to the island now known as Puerto Rico.
Author, painter and sculptor; George Crespo, changed a few minor details but kept a powerful story of how the ocean came into being. The story involves a family, a great hunter, a big storm and four boys who could not do as they were told.
How did one giant expanse of land turn into a series of islands in a deep blue sea? You’ll have to check out “How The Sea Began” to get the full story!
One Easter morning, Katy and Carl went on an egg hunt through Grandmom's house. Katy couldn't find anything until she went up to the attic. And there she discovered a very special set of eggs...
Grandmom had painted them when she was a little girl. And now, she hung them from the branches of a tiny tree -- an Egg Tree! So began a very special Easter tradition.
This Caldecott Medal-winning story of a Pennsylvania Dutch Easter will surely inspire children to make Egg Trees of their very own.
Everyone’s heard of a Christmas tree – but what about an Easter egg tree?
In this older story, author/illustrator Katherine Milhous takes you on a trip to Pennsylvania Dutch country. You get to visit with young Katy and Carl as they have their first Easter on their Grandmother’s farm, complete with an egg hunt. But Katy has not been too lucky. In fact, she hasn’t found a single egg and she retreats to the attic where she finds a real treasure – Easter eggs her grandmother had created when she was a little girl!
Katy’s discovery and the special “egg tree” they made is a wonderful story about family and creating meaningful holiday traditions. The designs are inspired by authentic Pennsylvania Dutch motifs and the book ends with an egg tree activity that is fun for homes, libraries and classrooms as a special way to celebrate the Spring.
Written/Retold by Eric A. Kimmel, Illustrated By Katya Krenina
On a cold, wintery morning, Katrusya and her grandfather discover something alarming. Small birds had been caught in an unexpected snowfall and are in danger of freezing to death. The young girl and her grandfather pick up as many as they can and bring them inside. So does the rest of her family and her entire village. Even the priest from the local church invites the birds to come inside and have a safe refuge from the cold.
The little birds brighten the spirits of all the villagers during an especially long winter until they need to fly away in Spring. Can the villagers let them go? What will come of this simple act of kindness? Perhaps an Easter miracle?
This is a beautiful book about how small actions can create big results and transform even the bleakest situation. Illustrated by Katya Krenina, a native of the Ukraine, this book is charming and uplifting, especially in Spring or before the Easter holidays.
Villagers take in a flock of golden birds nearly frozen by an early snow and are rewarded with beautifully decorated eggs the next spring.
The greedy Leprechaun King has locked away all the luck in Ireland and the whole country has fallen in to despair. Through clever charades, Fiona outwits the Leprechaun King and restores luck to the land.
Luminous illustrations add to the magic and wonder of this original folktale.
Written by Teresa Bateman
Illustrated By Kelly Murphy
What would you do if suddenly all the luck in the world disappeared?
This is an enchanted and enchanting story about the wee folk of Ireland and one clever heroine named Fiona. The book tells the tale of a Leprechaun king who decides to hide all the luck in the world away from the humans. The results are terrible as cows will not give milk, chickens won’t lay eggs and potatoes won’t grow in the fields. And people simply don’t know what to do. All except clever Fiona.
How can a human outwit a Leprechaun king and make things right? Pick up this charming book and find out how a good heart and a clever mind can sometimes change even the more dire situations.
Don Pedro wants to care the best radish sculpture for the Nigh of the Radishes. One radish won't cooperate. Written in a style reminicent of the Gingerbread Man. Based on the annual festival in Oaxaca, Mexico. Bilingual edition in English and Spanish.
Written by Janice Levy
Have you heard about the Christmas custom in Oaxaca, Mexico called The Night of The Radish (El Noche de Los Rabanos)? As part of the special festivities, people carve large radishes into elaborate scenes – most of which have a Christmas or Nativity theme. And some are amazing works of art.
In this story, one radish decides that she does not want to become part of this festival and runs away. A huge chase ensues and a cast of characters chase the radish in a way that resembles the story of the gingerbread man.
Funny, cute and a nice way to talk about how holiday customs differ from place to place, the Runaway Radish is a great book to add a touch of mirth to the holiday season!
Written By Margy Burns Knight
Illustrated By Anne Sibley O’Brien
Africa is a broad and diverse land. This book shares short vignettes of how life is different in 53 countries that make up the African continent.
Bright illustrations share everyday activities such as going to school on a busy street in Cairo, practicing a traditional dance in Nigeria, children drawing their impressions of the war in Rwanda and kids dreaming of being professional runners in Kenya. Although it’s hard to compress so many traditions and cultures into a short title aimed at young readers, this book is a welcome starting point to explore the diversity of the continent in a way that encourages the reader to want to learn more.
Demonstrates the diversity of the African continent by describing daily life in some of its fifty-three nations.
Written by Kristin Butcher, Illustrated by Martha Newbigging
Travel back in time to discover many fascinating aspects of life in daily life in ancient Egypt. Kristen Butcher provides a very funny history lesson that keeps both kids and adults entertained while they find out some of the best and worst jobs from the time of the Pharoahs.
So would you rather be a sandal-bearer to the Pharoah or a slave building a pyramid? It’s a trick question. We find out that although the sandal-bearer has an easier life, he was required to kiss the monarch’s big toe each time he put the shoes on. Yuk! Along with the description of jobs and occupations, there are plenty of details of culture, music, games, commerce, religion and life and death in Egyptian times. Speaking of death, did you know they actually had professional mourners?
Accompanied by humorous illustrations, this book is the best kind of stealth learning. Kids can’t wait to read more and absorb the information while a clever writer helps to paint a picture of a civilization that contributed greatly to world culture.
Imagine being an interpreter of dreams in ancient Egypt.
What was the daily grind like for the ancient Egyptians? Imagine it's your job to carve elaborate tombs out of rock formations (it will take years to do) or man an army outpost in the extreme heat of the desert. You might have worked transporting some of the over 2 million stones for the Great Pyramid or engineered irrigation projects along the Nile. Pharaohs and Foot Soldiers offers an innovative look at the jobs that kept Ancient Egypt running for 3,000 years.
Among the 100 careers profiled you'll also find reed cutters (who worked naked), sandal makers (many went barefoot) and even embalmers (pulling out organs took special training). Whether prestigious or poor, Egyptians had to be tough, trustworthy, stealthy and skilled to get by.
Complete with a fact-filled introduction, a comprehensive timeline and playful illustrations throughout, Pharaohs and Foot Soldiers will inspire readers to imagine how they may have lived out their days as a member of one of history's most fascinating civilizations.
Retold By Nancy Van Laan
Illustrations by Beatriz Vidal
There are many wonderful Native American stories of how the world began and how things we know got to be that way. This is the legend of the courageous crow, as retold from Lenape (Leni Lenape) folk legends. The books begins as all the woodland creatures find themselves engulfed in an enormous snowstorm. Someone must step forward and help. They must fly to the sun and bring back fire. Who will take on this daunting task and what will happen to them in their quest?
This book is beautiful, exciting and a wonderful lesson about how courage and service to those you love can truly save the day!
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR THIS BOOK
Have you ever done something that required great courage? What was it?
Was Crow a hero? Why?
Do you think Crow was afraid when he set out on his journey? If so, why did he continue?
If you were one of the other woodland creatures, could you come up with another way to save your family and friends? Tell the story or write your own legend about it.
Suggested Reading Level – 4 and up (or preschool and up)
Illus. in full color. This story of how the Rainbow Crow lost his sweet voice and brilliant colors by bringing the gift of fire to the other woodland animals is "a Native American legend that will be a fine read-aloud because of the smooth text and songs with repetitive chants. The illustrations, done in a primitive style, create a true sense of the Pennsylvania Lenape Indians and their winters."--School Library Journal.