Friday, September 12, 2014

Around the World in a Single Book - part 3: specific aspects of culture

This post is the third in our series about books focused on world geography and world cultures. Part 1 focused on books about children around the world, and part 2 focused on books about cultures around the world. This post will cover books about specific aspects of culture around the world: languages, schools and libraries, and more.

Books about Languages around the World

Hello World! Greetings in 42 Languages around the Globe! by Manya Stojic. This charming little book features full-page paintings of children around the world saying hello. Each greeting is spelled out and written phonetically and includes the language of origin. My main complaint about this book is that I would have liked to how "hello" is written in each language as well, rather than just using the roman alphabet for all of them. (H/T Carrie at There is a Book for That.)

Animals Speak by Lila Prap. This book takes a different tactic, introducing the reader to the different sounds made by animals. The book includes 14 different animals across 41 languages. Only a few languages are included for each animal within the book itself, but you can read all the variations in the end papers. Students love sounding out all of the different sounds and trying their own hand at spelling out what they hear from various animals. I appreciate that this book does include the actual scripts for different languages, but the "pronunciation guide" is not necessary accurate. (The French duck sound is spelled coin in French but is pronounced more like KWA than the COYN that an English speaker would expect from that spelling. A minor point.) (T/P High Variance.)

(If your students really like the idea of animal noises in different languages, there is a super cute series of posters designed by artist James Chapman that were a big hit with my students last year. Click here to see the article and posters.)

Books about Schools and Libraries around the World

My Librarian is a Camel: how books are brought to children around the world by Margriet Ruurs. This book highlights interesting and unusual libraries around the world, with a focus on the importance of books and access to books for children (and adults). Each two-page spread about a country contains photographs of one or more libraries, as well as facts about the country itself. I use this book near the beginning of the year to help my students realize how lucky they are to be constantly surrounded by books at school and at our local public libraries, Little Free Libraries, and Bookmobiles.

My School in the Rain Forest: how children attend school around the world also by Margriet Ruurs. This follow-up book takes the same format to explore schools around the world, again illustrated with photographs and facts about the countries. Each school is described through the eyes of a particular student who is also featured in the write-up. Another resource for comparing and contrasting around the world. (H/T Mandy at Enjoy and Embrace Learning.)

Off to Class: incredible and unusual schools around the world by Susan Hughes. As the title suggests, this book provides a look at a variety of schools around the world, with a focus on unusual schools or school situations across three broad categories - Working with the Environment, No School? No Way!, and One Size Doesn't Fit All. Each school has a two-page spread with photographs and several paragraphs of information about the school. Many also have an interview with an individual student from the school. This book is pitched a little older than the two books above and would be suitable for upper-elementary and middle school students. (H/T Linda at Teacher Dance.)

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday Challenge is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and is a weekly roundup of educator blogs that are sharing nonfiction picture books. Click the link to check out other nonfiction posts.

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