Travel the World With These Picture Books for Children
by Devon A. Corneal
Just because we’re stuck at home for the foreseeable future doesn’t mean that we can’t go exploring. If you’ve ever dreamed of strolling through the winding streets of Europe, experiencing the vastness of Asia, or learning about the history of Africa, dive into these marvelous picture books. They’ll transport you to different times, expose you to new ideas and traditions, and make you feel like you’ve traveled the globe without ever leaving your couch.
Paris by Phone
I know more than one little girl who dreams of flying to Paris, eating baguettes, and climbing the Eiffel Tower while wearing a chic beret. Josephine Harris, however, is the only one I know who has a magical phone that can make her dream come true.
French pigs are super fashionable and have noses for the most delicate scents. Piglette is determined to travel to Paris and visit its famous perfumeries. What she discovers when she gets there, however, is that there is no place like home.
The classic story of young Madeline and her life in a Parisian orphanage remains one of my favorite French stories. With her boldness and courage, Madeline continues to capture our hearts eighty years after publication.
Big Anthony: His Story
Tomie dePaola’s stories perfectly capture the charm of Italian life, and Big Anthony is no exception. Big Anthony has a generous heart but a short attention span and spends most of his days inadvertently causing trouble throughout Italy. I mean, how do you think the Leaning Tower of Pisa started leaning?
Old Babushka is famous throughout Moscow for her gorgeous painted eggs. This year, as she prepares for Easter, something terrible happens, and all her hard work gets ruined. Thankfully, her new goose Rechnenka might be able to save the day.
Babushka Baba Yaga
In traditional stories, the Russian witch Baba Yaga is known primarily for eating young children. But Babushka Baba Yaga isn’t interested in eating children – she just wants to love them.
Carson Crosses Canada
We share a lot with our neighbor to the north, including the country’s incredible size. Annie Magruder and her dog Carson are about to discover all the magic Canada has to offer as they drive from British Columbia to Newfoundland with Carson’s favorite squeaky toy and plenty of bologna sandwiches.
Desert Girl, Monsoon Boy
India is a vast country with a myriad of languages, cultures, and climates. Where one child lives her life in an arid sandscape, another grows up in a rainy jungle. Despite their differences, both lives are shaped by the extreme weather they must contend with and the choices they make to survive and thrive.
Fauja Singh Keeps Going
I used to complain when I exercised – especially when I went running. I stopped doing that after I read the story about Fauja Singh, who, at 100, became the oldest person ever to run a marathon. Born in India with physical challenges that made it difficult for him to walk, much less run, Singh never let those impediments stand in his way.
The Tale of the Tiger Slippers
Set in India, The Tale of the Tiger Slippers tells the story of Tiger, who works every day to build a better life for himself and his family. As his success grows, he begins to question the ties that connect him to his humble beginnings, only to discover that those things are what matter most.
The Ocean Calls
For generations, Korean women known as haenyeo (free divers) have searched the ocean for treasures. The Ocean Calls is the story of a young girl, Dayeon, who longs to follow her grandmother as a diver, but must overcome her greatest fear to make her dream a reality.
The Soccer Fence
Apartheid segregated every aspect of life in South Africa for nearly half a century. With the system dismantled, the dreams of one boy who longed to play soccer with his peers in Johannesburg finally came true. It's a moving story about the unifying power of sports, even in the face of injustice.
Anansi Goes Fishing
Based on a West African Akan folktale character, Anansi, the spider, is very lazy and very sly. When he wants lunch, he doesn’t make it himself; he tries to trick Turtle into doing all the hard work for him. However, Turtle knows a trick or two of his own.
The Water Princess
Although Gie Gie is a princess, she doesn’t live a life of luxury. Instead, every day, she walks miles from her home to bring back fresh water, balancing the precious liquid in a heavy clay pot on her head. Inspired by model Georgie Badiel’s childhood in Burkina Faso, this story is a stark reminder of the challenges people face and a call for all of us to work together to create a more equitable world.
Princesses of all types often get sent away to marry men they have never met to build alliances between dynasties. But in this story, a brave Chinese princess refuses to leave home without the thing she treasures most, and in so doing, ensures that the secret of silk-making spreads throughout the world.
Lon Po Po
You may think you know the story of Red Riding Hood, but until you’ve read Ed Young’s Lon Po Po, you don’t know the half of it. Filled with gorgeous and moody illustrations, this new take on an old classic will transport you to China in an instant. If you're young reader is interested in more stories set in China, check out this reading list.