Early Chapter Books for Global Citizens

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Inly’s students are about half-way through their 2011-21012 world tour. They’ve read about foreign capitals, tried new foods and used the magic of technology to see how kids live in every corner of the globe. Of course, we’ve also read lots of stories.  During each library class, the read-aloud selection is a story that takes place somewhere outside of the United States. Julia Donaldson’s popular British picture book, The Gruffalo, has been the most popular choice so far. I even ordered a copy of The Gruffalo’s Child so we could continue the adventures of the smart mouse and the monster.

There is no shortage of “international” picture books. We could meet through the summer and still not read all of the wonderful stories available to American readers. But, here’s where things got tricky. We thought it would be fun for our large group of new readers to select a beginning “chapter book” written by a foreign author. That proved a bit more challenging, but it can be done.  The teachers asked me to suggest a few titles for their 1st through 3rd grade students – and here they are…

Medusa Jones by Ross Collins (Collins is from Scotland – and this is a really fun story about a girl living in Ancient Greece. As you might expect, Medusa has snakes coming out of her head!)

Babe and Lady Lollipop and The Nine Lives of Aristotle – all by British author Dick King-Smith (King-Smith has written so many sweet early chapter books – these are just a few titles to get you started. Don’t forget A Mouse Called Wolf about a music-loving mouse!)

The Akimbo series by Alexander McCall Smith (McCall Smith was born in what is now Zimbabwe and now lives in Scotland. Akimbo lives on an African game reserve with his parents – his dad is a park ranger.  This series is a guaranteed hit – animals, adventure, a likeable hero)

The Anna Hibiscus series by Atinuke (Atinuke is from Nigeria – the books are about a little girl living in “Africa – amazing Africa.”)

Younguncle Comes to Town by Vandana Singh (Singh was born in India, where this story about three children and their eccentric uncle takes place)

The Lotta series and Pippi Longstocking by Swedish author Astrid Lindgren (Lotta on Troublemaker Street is about Lotta’s too-scratchy sweater, a challenge most kids face at one point or another – unless they live in Florida!)

And Roald Dahl!  So many choices for new readers – before they read The BFG and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  Suggest The Enormous Crocodile, George’s Marvelous Medicine, or The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me.


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