Sail away with your kids to magical lands across the sea – just by picking up a book. These 10 great kids books will give your family a glimpse of cultures and a taste of languages around the world. You can read all of them in English, but if you’re feeling up to it, several (such as the French classic The Little Prince) can easily be found in their original language. Whatever you choose, reading with your kids is a great way to bond and let their imaginations grow. Plus, it’s one step closer to getting ready for school, which will be here before you know it.
1. The Adventures of TinTin (Belgium) – A dog and his intrepid young reporter owner solve mysteries around the world – the comic strip imagery is especially popular with young children; and the comics are also available in French.
2. The Little Prince – A lovely French classic that tells the story of an aviator who meets a prince from a distant asteroid while stranded in the desert. This is a good one to try in French if you can.
3. The Invention of Hugo Cabret – Take a trip through Paris with the vivid pencil images in this imaginative story of Hugo, a boy who lives in a train station in Paris, and the friend who helps uncover his mechanical secret.
4. Strega Nona—Although written in English, this is the tale of an Italian “Grandma Witch” who lives in Calabria and makes enough pasta to bury an entire town. There are more than a dozen Strega Nona stories to keep the pasta-fueled fun going.
5. Pippi Longstocking –Sweden’s contribution to global kids’ imaginations is this firecracker of a main character, a red-headed 9-yr-old with a with a suitcase full of gold, a pet monkey, and horse on her front porch. A great read out loud book that will make you and your kids laugh out loud.
6. The Moomins – A Swedish/Finnish illustrated collection of books about a family of animal-like creatures. The pictures are sure to captivate kids, and if they really love it, there’s even a Moomin theme park in Finland!
7. Lon Po Po – A Red Riding Hood Story from China – In this Chinese reworking of the classic Grimm fairytale, three sisters in rural China outwit the (heads up, relatively scary looking) Lon Po Po (Granny Wolf). Great for kids who like their stories to keep them on the edge of their seat.
8. The REAL Story of Stone Soup – Another children’s classic story with a Chinese twist. This time three clever brothers turn stones into egg drop soup – keep an eye out for Chinese vocabulary sprinkled throughout the story.
9. Anansi The Spider – From West Africa comes this Ashanti fable of a small spider who must make a big decision.
10. We All Went on Safari — A counting journey through a safari in Tanzania. There’s a surprising amount of rhythmic Swahili vocabulary tucked into the illustrations of animals.