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Seven Children's Books and Seven Cultures

By Bianca Smith • April 02, 2018

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go."

Today we celebrate International Children's Book Day: a day to inspire a love of reading in children and bring attention to children's books. And as Dr. Seuss said in the quote above from I Can Read With My Eyes Shut, there are uncountable benefits to reading. This is probably nothing new to you as a reader, but this Harvard Business Review story describes a plethora of ways that reading helps our careers.

So let's celebrate reading and International Children's Book Day with an around the world book tour. Here are seven books showing what everyday life is like around the world.

Australia

Possum Magic by Mem Fox

Possum Magic by Mem Fox is an Australian children's classic. Hush, the possum, has become invisible. Hush and Grandma Poss travel around Australia meeting different native animals and trying different traditional Australian foods to try and make Hush visible. The art of some rather unique animals is adorable, and the children will discover new foods and flavors.

England, Scotland, the United States, and France

Father Christmas Goes On Holiday by Raymond Briggs

We were a little hesitant to include Father Christmas Goes on Holiday. It's a cute story of Father Christmas trying to take a well-earned summer break, even though for him, nothing is like home. Scotland is cold and wet, French food is too rich, and Las Vegas is hot and expensive. And he's recognized everywhere he visits. However, while Father Christmas may not like these places, the illustrations give a perfect contrast view of the cultures, and the children can make up their own minds.

Morocco

My Father's Shop by Satomi Ichikawa

Mustafa has a favorite in his father's rug store. It has a hole in it that he can peek through, and no one wants a holey rug. Mustafa's father says he can have it if he learns some words in different languages, but learning's boring. Mustafa runs away through the Moroccan market and ends up learning new words and bringing tourist customers back to his father's store. Not only will children (and grown-ups) learn new words, they'll see life in a Moroccan market and what things are for sale.

Canada/North America

Something Good by Robert Munsch

Grocery shopping happens everywhere, right? Yes, but it's a little different between markets in France and the North American supermarkets in Something Good. Tyya is shopping with her dad and is frustrated that he won't buy anything good. No ice cream, no candy, and no cookies; dad doesn't understand what something good is. Robert Munsch makes the mundane hilarious for children and adults and shows North American life along the way.

Netherlands

The Cow Who Fell in the Canal by Phyllis Krasilovsky

Everyone should travel, right? Even cows. This bovine with wanderlust got her chance when she accidentally fell in the canal. Hendrika ends up on a raft traveling to the big city market, seeing much of Holland along the way.

Mali

I Lost My Tooth in Africa by Penda Diakité

What happens when you lose a tooth in the African country, Mali? Amina has a wobbly tooth and hopes it comes out while visiting family in Mali. If you place your tooth under a gourd, you receive two chickens. It did, and Amina's chickens laid eggs that hatched more chickens. While waiting for Amina's chickens to hatch, we see everyday life in Mali, including brushing your teeth over a tree so the wastewater helps the tree.

Iran

The Persian Cinderella by Shirley Climo

The Persian Cinderella mixes the familiar with the new for children. They know the Western story of Cinderella, but what if Cinderella was born elsewhere? Settareh lives with her step-mother and step-sisters, and extended family in Persian-style. The basic outline is the same story, but Settareh loses an anklet instead of a slipper, the wishes were granted by a pari—a Persian fairy in folklore—and they are celebrating the New Year.

Read more by Bianca Smith

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