I recently received an e-mail with the following request.
I need to come up with a collection of children’s books that includes various representations of schools. I was hoping to find books involving schools in other countries and cultures, but the “multicultural” books I’ve found so far only involve foreign children coming to American schools. Do you know of any good books, preferably for grades 1-3, that include representations of non-American schools?
I looked through my collection and found a few picture books that fit the bill, but decided I needed to do some additional research. Here are some titles that will be useful in exploring schools around the world.
It’s Back to School We Go by Ellen Jackson – See what the first day of school is like for children from 11 different countries while learning about where they live.
This is the Way We Go to School by Edith Baer – While technically this isn’t about school, it is interesting to contemplate the many different ways children get to school.
My Librarian is a Camel: How Books Are Brought to Children Around the World by Margriet Ruurs – This book presents 13 different countries and shows how books make their way into the hands of children. Photographs show everything from donkey cart to bicycle and camel to elephant.
The Global Fund for Children has published two books about going to school. The first is a very simple picture book, while the other is much more advanced.
- Back to School (It’s a Kid’s World) by Maya Ajmera and John D. Ivanko – Photographs with short captions depict the school lives of children around the globe. How children get to school is also described.
- Going to School in India by Lisa Heydlauff and Nitin Upadyhe – This is really a volume for older students (grades 4-6), and at 98 pages it’s long. However, it looks at the many kinds of schools that exist across India. There is an extensive index of information and many photographs that make this a useful resource.
Running the Road to ABC by Denize Lauture – In beautiful, vibrant images, this book follows a group of Haitian children on their way to school to learn to read.
A School Like Mine by Penny Smith – This book was released in 2007 and is published by DK Publishing in conjunction with UNIICEF. I have not seen it yet, but if it’s anything like most DK books, it’s bound to have useful information. The publishers have also produced a teacher’s guide (pdf) for you to download. Be sure to visit the lesson plan page to learn how to sign up for the pen pal project.
School Days Around the World by Catherine E. Chambers – This book is one in the DK Readers series. Aimed at children beginning to read on their own, it looks at an average school day in the lives of children from seven countries around the world.
While searching for good titles I also found the following resources.
- UNICEF has a terrific activity packet you can download entitled Going to School Around the World.
- Time for Kids has a short graph interpretation activity that looks at the number of years children to go school in different parts of the world.
I’m still looking for ideas, and will add to this list as I find appropriate materials. If you know of a book that explores going to school outside the U.S., please let me know.