Reading Our Way Around The World

We love books and love reading aloud as a family.  Several years ago I started putting little sticky labels on the big maps we keep on the wall next to our dining room table.  I casually put book titles on the places where the stories we were reading took place.  At first it was:

  • Mary Poppins- England
  • Little House in the Big Woods-Wisconsin
  • Penderwicks-Massachusetts
  • Famer Boy and the Melendy Quartet- New York
  • A Long Way from Chicago - Illinois 
What started out as labeling a couple books at first, has now turned into a family project of finding books from all over the world to read.  We quickly saw that many of our books came from either the Northern and Eastern parts of the United States or England.  We were missing the rest of the country and the world and we didn't even realize it.  What started as an awareness has now turned into a challenge.  There is nothing like a story to really learn about a culture and we are hooked.  Here are the titles of those we have read and recommend (and for which we remembered to put a sticky label on the map).  Some are chapter books and some are picture books, some are the whole Magic Treehouse series.  Some are appropriate for all ages and some for older kids/young adults, use your own judgement.  

I have also added in parentheses on the US list, the race of the main character as more and more of us are trying to audit our reading to make sure it is representing all people.  There are many more exhaustive lists on this topic but this is just my way of representing racial diversity on this particular list for my own family's benefit. There is a further edit I am working on which will indicate whether the author of the books from around the world is (a) person living in that country/culture now, (b) an immigrant from that country, (c) someone who shares heritage with that country/culture or (d) someone who has lived in that country/culture, (e) someone who is writing about that country/culture from research.  Again, we find this helpful in our family as we look at who is telling the story and what is their perspective.  This edit is not yet complete but in process and I may not have gotten all the categories just as I want them but we're getting there. 

Join us and let us know what you are reading so we can add that to our list as we explore cultures and people around the United States and around the world through books.

Dream Carver - Mexico (e)
Esperanza Rising - Mexico, California
Serefina's Promise - Haiti (e)
Juan Bobo - Puerto Rico (b)
Rainbow Weaver - Guatemala (e)
Dancing Hands - Venezuela (e)
The Very Last First Time - Canada (Native) (a)
The Barren Grounds - Canada, Cree Nation (a)
Elijah of Buxton- Canada (e)
Nory Ryan's Song - Ireland (c)
Wild Wings - Scotland
Katie Morag - Scotland
Swallows and Amazons - England (a)
Mary Poppins - England (a)
Padington - England (a)
Harry Potter - England  (a)
Fortunately the Milk - England  (a)
The Secret Garden - England   (a)
Wind in the Willows - England  (a)
Treasure Island - England/Caribbean  (a,e)
Chico Chugg - England  (a)
The Railway Series - England/Sodor  (a)
Five Children and It - England  (a)
Narnia Series - England/Narnia  (a)
Sweep - England (e)
Madeline- France
Pippi Longstocking - Sweden (a)
Number the Stars - Denmark (e)
The Winged Watchman - The Netherlands  (a)
The Faithful Spy - Germany  (e)
Echo - Germany, Pennsylvania, California, NY
Papa Piccalo - Italy (e)
Warriors in Winter - Roman Empire  (e)
The Toymaker's Apprentice - Eastern Europe
Dogs in the Dead of Night - Switzerland  (e)
Hour of the Olympics - Greece   (e)
The Turtle of Oman - Oman (c)
Anna Hibiscus - Africa (b)
A Long Walk to Water - Southern Sudan (e)
Good Morning Gorillas - Uganda/DRC  (e)
When Stars are Scattered - Somalia/Kenya (a)
Sulwe - Kenya  (b)
It's Trevor Noah: Born a Crime - South Africa (b)
Shooting Kabul - Afghanistan/California
The Night Diary - India/Pakistan (c)
Tigers at Twilight - India  (e)
Stand on the Sky - Kazakh Nomads in Mongolia (e with a)
A Single Shard - Korea (c)
Grass Sandals - Japan
Night of the Ninjas - Japan  (e)
Tua and the Elephant - Thailand  (e)
Dawn Raid - New Zealand 
The Pumpkin Runner - Australia
Dingoes at Dinnertime - Australia (e)

Sign of the Beaver - Maine (White/Native/Penobscot)
One Morning in Maine - Maine (White)
Blueberries for Sal - Maine (White)
Charlotte's Web - Maine (White)
The Enormous Egg - New Hampshire (White)
Return to Sender - Vermont (Latina/White)
Tia Lola - Vermont/Puerto Rico (Latina)
Amos Fortune, Free Man - Massachusetts/New Hampshire (Black)
Make Way for Ducklings - Massachusetts (White)
Johnny Tremain - Massachusetts (White)
The Penderwicks (series) - Massachusetts (White)
Little Women (series) - Massachusetts (White)
Dumpling Dreams - Massachusetts/China (Asian/Chinese)
Show Me A Sign - Massachusetts, Martha's Vineyard (Deaf Community)
Boxcar Children (series) - Connecticut (White)
The Moffats Series - Connecticut (White)
Ginger Pye - Connecticut (White)
Tales of the Fourth Grade Nothing Fudge Series - New York City/New Jersey/Maine (White)
My Side of the Mountain Series - New York (White)
Stuart Little - New York (White)
Gone Away Lake - New York (White)
Farmer Boy - New York (White)
Same Sun Here - New York City/Kentucky  (Indian Immigrant/White)
Four Story Mistake (Melendy Quartet) - New York (White)
The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street (series) - New York City (Black/Biracial)
Wonder - New York City (White)
Blizzard of the Blue Moon - New York City (White)
Children of the Longhouse - Mohawk Tribe Iroquois Confederacy (Native)
Hoboken Chicken Emergency - New Jersey (White)
Ben and Me - Pennsylvania (White)
Pie - Pennsylvania (White)
The Rag Coat - West Virginia (White)
Bridge to Terebithia - Virginia (White)
Warm as Wool - Ohio (White)
Homer Price - Ohio (White)
The Perilous Road - Tennessee (White)
A Tugging String - Alabama/New York (Black/White/Jewish)
Preaching to the Chickens - Alabama (Black)
Because of Winn Dixie - Florida (White)
Bud, Not Buddy - Michigan (Black)
The Bee Tree - Michigan (White)
A Long Way from Chicago - Illinois (White)
Project Mulberry- Illinois (Asian/Korean/White)
Paddle to the Sea - Great Lakes (Native/White)
Little House in the Big Woods - Wisconsin (White)
Birchbark House - Wisconsin (Native)
Caddie Woodlawn - Minnesota (White)
Little House at Plum Creek - Minnesota (White)
Little House on the Prairie - Kansas (White)
100 Cupboards (series) - Kansas (White)
By the Shores of Silver Lake - South Dakota (White)
The Long Winter - South Dakota (White)
Buffalos Before Breakfast - South Dakota (White/Native/Lakota)
Legend of Blue Bonnet - Texas (Native/Comanche)
Ghost Town at Sundown - Texas (White)
A Good Night for Ghosts - Louisiana (White/Black)
The Gullywasher - New Mexico (Latino)
Menagerie Series - Wyoming (Black)
Trumpet of the Swan - Montana/Massachusetts (White)
Earthquake in the Early Morning - California (White)
Paper Wishes - California (Asian/Japanese)
The Burn Basket - California (White)
The Mouse and the Motorcycle - California (White)
The Nerviest Girl in the World - California (White)
Island of the Blue Dolphins - Channel Islands (Native)
Wildwood Chronicles - Oregon (White)
Henry Huggins and All Ribsy Stories - Oregon (White)
I Can Make this Promise - Washington (Native/Suquamish/Duwamish)
Balto of the Blue Dawn - Alaska (White)
Togo - Alaska (White)
Sweet Home Alaska - Alaska (White)
High Tide in Hawaii - Hawaii (White/Pacific Islander Hawaiian)

Two awesome resources if you are also into this sort of thing are:

Books on our list for 2022:

Brown Girl Dreaming - South Carolina (Black)
Journey to Jo'burg - South Africa
The Red Umbrella - Cuba and Nebraska
Homesick - China
I am MalalaPakistan
Crow Country - Australia (Aboriginal Folklore)
One Crazy Summer - California
Other Words From Home - Syria/US
Esparanza Rising- Mexico/California

What books do you love that take your family around the world?  Please leave a comment we would love to add them to our reading list.

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