9 Diverse Series and Chapter Books For Boys #ReadYourWorld

9 Diverse Series and Chapter Books For Boys via I'm Not the Nanny

I’m a proud participant of Multicultural Children’s Book Day, which is tomorrow, January 27th! I received a review copy of Zapato Power: Freddie Ramos Stomps the Snow to share with you for MCCBD. This post contains affiliate links. Image adapted from photo by Bert Dennison via Creative Commons.

After reading Zapato Power: Freddie Ramos Stomps the Snow by Jacqueline Jules, I realized we need a list of diverse chapter books for boys. Maybe it’s because I have a daughter, but I noticed that it’s easier to find diverse chapter books for girls than boys. Jaxson is just learning his sight words in preschool, but soon he’ll want chapter books about kids that look like him.

It’s never too early to make a reading list for him, right?  I’m not saying that these books are only for boys, but that they feature multicultural boys as main characters. I know some of you have asked for a list for boys, so here we go. I’ve organized the elementary and middle grade chapter books by recommended ages.

Diverse Chapter Books For Boys

Freddie Ramos Stomps the Snow by Jacqueline Jules
Zapato Power: Freddie Ramos Stomps the Snow by Jacqueline Jules: What boy doesn’t want super shoes that allows him to run fast and jump high in the air? In the latest book in the Zapato Power series, Freddie Ramos uses his powers for good after a huge snow storm. Author Jules lives in the DC area, so I secretly imagine that she’s was inspired by our past snowstorms. (Recommended for ages 6-8).

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Birthday Parties, Science Projects, and Other Man-made Catastrophes by Lenore Look: Second grader Alvin Ho is afraid of everything. In the third book of this hilarious series, Alvin receives an invitation to a girl’s birthday party. Can he survive? I also love LeUyen Pham’s illustrations. (Recommended for ages 6-9).

Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities by Mike Jung: If your child loves superheroes, they’ll love this book. Vincent Wu is Captain Stupendous’ #1 Fan until he realizes discovers his new secret identity. The superhero who saved his life is actually Polly Winnicott-Lee, whom Vincent has a crush on. What’s a boy to do? (recommended for ages 8-12)

N.E.R.D.S. by Michael Buckley: A team of fifth-grade superspies band together to work on super secret government missions. While the members of NERDS (National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society) are not very popular at school, they use their nerdy skills to save the world. Each book in the series is a new case and a hilarious new adventure. (recommended for ages 8-12)

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander: Twelve-year-old Josh Bell and his twin brother are stars on the  basketball court. Told in verse from Josh’s point of view, the book chronicles his family life on and off the court–and what happens when they break the rules.(recommended for ages 9-12)

The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible . . . on Schindler’s List by Marilyn J. Harran This memoir of one of the youngest boys on Schlinder’s list would make a good parent-child book club read. Children will learn more about the Holocaust through the eyes of a young boy. While the book is recommended for kids as young as 9, I would suggest this book for more mature readers. (recommended for ages 9-14)


Better Nate than Ever and Five, Six, Seven, Nate! by Tim Federle: What happens when a small-town boy crashes a New York City audition for ET: The Musical? Nate Foster is about to find out! Spoiler alert: his adventure continues in Five, Six, Seven, Nate!(recommended for ages 10-14)

The Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda: Calling all fantasy fans! In The Savage Fortress series, Ash and his sister Lucky visit their aunt and uncle in India. His uncle is invited to the Savage Fortress, owned by a collector of Indian artifacts and demons. Savage is convinced that an artifact that Ash has found will make him young again and will stop at nothing to own it. Follow Ash and Lucky on their quest as they encounter Indian gods and demons. (recommended for ages 10-14)

[READ MORE: 18 Diverse Children’s Chapter Book Series for Summer Reading]

More about Multicultural Children’s Book Day: Co-creators Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom and Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book/Audrey Press founded MCCBD to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these types of books into classrooms and libraries.

MCCBD’s  2015 Sponsors includePlatinum Sponsors: Wisdom Tales Press, Daybreak Press Global BookshopGold Sponsors:  Satya House,  MulticulturalKids.com,   Author Stephen Hodges and the Magic PoofSilver SponsorsJunior Library Guild,  Capstone PublishingLee and Low Books,  The Omnibus PublishingBronze Sponsors:Double Dutch DollsBliss Group BooksSnuggle with Picture Books Publishing, RainbowBooks,  Author FeliciaCapers,  Chronicle Books, Muslim Writers Publishing ,East West Discovery Press.

Join First Book‘s Virtual Book Drive that will help donate multicultural children’s books through their channels during the week of the event. We want to help get diversity books into the hands of kids who most need it and now we have a way to do it!


Free Foreign Language Printables For Kids + App Giveaway

Free Foreign Language Printables For Kids in over 15 languages via I'm Not the Nanny

This post contains affiliate links. Images below are from Gus on the Go and are used with permission.

I haven’t given up on hope on teaching my kids how to speak Vietnamese yet. We send them to stay at my parents every summer, where they can hear the language consistently.  During the rest of the year, I speak a little bit of Vietnamese at home, but that’s all. However, I’m excited because Gus on the Go, a language learning app for kids, has free foreign language printables in over 15 languages. Yes, that includes Vietnamese!

The printables are bright and cheerful, just like the app. Did I mention they were free?

Gus on the Go has a few foreign language printables you can choose from:

Gus on the Go Free Foreign Language Printables Vietnamese

Fortune tellers. We called them cootie catchers when I was a kid. Do kids still call them that?

Gus on the Go Free Foreign Language Printables French

Numbers flashcard set. Just print these on cardstock so they last longer.

Gus on the Go Transportation Wheel Free Foreign Language Printable

How about this cute wheel to learn about different modes of transportation? Look for those paper fasteners in the office supply store or scrapbook section. Amazon sells some too.

Head to Gus on the Go to see all of their free foreign language printables.

If you haven’t tried out Gus on the Go  language learning app, you need to! The design is bright, fun, and intuitive. The best part is that Gus on the Go is available in over 30 languages, including Vietnamese!  There’s a different app for each language, but the concept for each is the same. Kids (or adults) learn basic words by touching the object. Once they’re ready, there’s games to test and reiterate what they have learned.

Gus on the Go Vietnamese

Jaxson absolutely loves this app. While he’s not comfortable enough to practice saying each word out loud, his Vietnamese comprehension has definitely improved.  We’ve had this app for almost a year now and he still goes back to it. Pair the app with the free printables to learn the fundamentals of your chosen foreign language. At $2.99-3.99 per app, it’s a steal. Gus on the Go is available on iPhone or iPad, Google Play, and Amazon Apps.

Giveaway: Gus on the Go has offered 5 iTunes codes for the Gus on the Go in the language of your choice! To enter, use the Rafflecopter widget below. We’ll have 5 winners!

READ MORE: My Favorite Vietnamese-English Bilingual Children’s Books

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11 Inspiring Multicultural Biographies For Kids

Inspiring Multicultural Biographies For Kids Book List at I'm Not the Nanny

Nothing is more inspiring that reading about the lives of real people who have made a difference in our world. These biographies become more powerful when kids see people who look like them reflected in the books. I searched my library shelves for diverse picture book biographies and came up with a huge stack. Too many for one post. So here’s a few and I’ll share more in another post.

Inspiring Multicultural Biographies For Kids

Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Bryan Collier: In January the United States celebrates the life and accomplishments of the great Civil Rights leader. The author uses quotes from Dr. King’s speeches to tell the story of his life in this biography geared towards young children. Make sure to take advantage of the timeline and additional resources in the beautifully illustrated picture book. (Coretta Scott King Honor Book & Caldecott Honor Book)

Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Edel Rodriguez: Written in English and Spanish, this book recounts Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s childhood in the Bronx. Her family didn’t have much, but she had what she needed to succeed: her mother’s love and her determination.

Manjiro: The Boy Who Risked His Life for Two Countries by Emily Arnold McCully: In 1841, a young Japanese boy and his fellow fishermen became stranded on a small island, far from home. After several months, an American ship rescues them and so begins Manjiro’s adventure in the United States. His home country was closed to foreigners, but Manjiro returned home after many years to share his stories with his people. He even advised Japanese leaders when U.S. Navy ships arrived and demanded Japan open its ports to American ships.

George Crum and the Saratoga Chip by Gaylia Taylor, illustrated by Frank Morrison: Anyone who loves munching on chips will love learning about their inventor George Crum. Though he encountered prejudice for his biracial Native American and African American heritage, his fiery streak gave helped him make culinary history.

Celia Cruz, Queen of Salsa by Veronica Chambers, illustrated by Julie Maren: Starting with the salsa singer’s humble beginnings in her two bedroom house shared with her three sisters and numerous cousins in Havana, Cuba, this book illustrates how Celia Cruz’s passion for singing garnered her worldwide fame. She and her bandmates “rewrote the history of Cuban music with new arrangements and a fresh, innovative style.”

Twenty-two Cents: Muhammad Yunus and the Village Bank by Paula Yoo, illustrated by Jamel Akib: Before micro-loans hit the internet, there was economics professor Muhammad Yunus. In the 1970s, he founded Grameen Bank so people could borrow small amounts of money (like twenty-two cents) in order to better their lives.

Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Bryan Collier: Written in free verse, this biography of the United States 44th President is perfect for reading aloud. Children will learn about President Obama’s biracial heritage and his journey to become our nation’s first black president.

Queen of the Track: Alice Coachman, Olympic High-Jump Champion by Heather Lang, illustrated by Floyd Cooper: Alice Coachman’s journey to become the first African American woman to win an Olympic Gold medal was not an easy one. She grew up in a time where it was unladylike for girls to run and jump. In college when she won a race against a top-ranked white sprinter, someone from the crowd threw ice at her. A great story for any child who loves to run and jump (like both of my kids!).

Tito Puente, Mambo King by Monica Brown, illustrated Rafael Lopez: The colorful and lively illustrations in this book reflects the Mambo King’s passion for music. Your kids can’t help dancing along with the fun rhythms of Tito Puente. (Pura Belpré Honor Book)

Hiromi’s Hands by Lynne Barasch: Traditionally women are not allowed to become sushi chefs. Japanese American Hiromi Suzuki trained under her father in their family restuarant and became one of the first female sushi chefs in New York. Make sure you pick up some sushi before reading this book because you’ll definitely crave it afterwards!

Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson: Written in free verse, the book tells the inspiring story of Nelson Mandela, who spoke out against apartheid in South Africa. His belief in equality for all people-no matter their skin color-pushed him to organize a resistance program that led to his arrest and imprisonment. His determination and triumph as the first black president of South African will encourage children to pursue their dreams–no matter how challenging. (Coretta Scott King Honor Book)

What books would you add to this list?

Vietnamese Christmas Songs (with Rapping!)

After writing about our family’s favorite Christmas albums, I started thinking about Vietnamese Christmas carols. It’s been a while since I’ve listened to Vietnamese Christmas music. There’s plenty of Viet language versions of “Silent Night” and other more familiar western carols. So I dug around for some of the original nhạc giáng sinh (Christmas music).

Most of these are from Paris by Night, a variety type show originally produced in Paris (where many Vietnamese immigrated to during/after the civil war). Now it’s produced in Orange County, CA, which the largest concentration of Vietnamese Americans reside. Those who grew up in Vietnamese homes will have a love-hate relationship with the Paris by Night videos. They were constantly playing at my aunt’s home. While the shows had very high production values (look at those costumes!), the musical mash-ups and attempts at rapping made me feel embarrassed for my people. Typical teenager, I was.

Vietnamese rap, you ask? Yes. Did I mention that Vietnamese male singers are very metrosexual  stylish? Here’s a medley of Vietnamese music, including a rap number of Jingle Bells (starting at 3:27)

The new ones are not as cringe worthy as the ones from my childhood. But the older ones were clearly trying to emulate those 1990s MTV music video. Here’s one of my favorite childhood Vietnamese Christmas carols, Hang Bê Lem (Manger in Bethlehem). Skip to the minute mark:

Did I scare you? Or do you want more? I created a Vietnamese Christmas music playlist on YouTube for your viewing and aural pleasure.

I had to share this one with you. It’s not a Christmas video, but these were the types of Paris by Night numbers I was forced to watch as a teen:

Does your culture have its own holiday music? Share a link to a video in the comments.

Middle Grade Fantasy Books With Strong Female Characters

Middle Grade Fantasy Books with Strong Female Characters-I'm Not the Nanny

When it comes to book genres, Sophia is following in my fantasy loving footsteps.  As a parent, I find that middle grade fantasy is the middle child who’s been ignored by publishers. Fantasy YA has become so commercially successful, it’s become challenging for me to find fantasy books whose subject matter doesn’t veer into romantic teenagers, killing, and destruction. I’m not ready for my third grader to read those!

We’re lucky that our local library regularly receives new books because she reads fast and furious (like her mom). I figure if I’m having problems finding middle grade fantasy books, then others have too. I especially like these because they’re fantasy books with strong female characters. (This post contains affiliate links.)

Middle Grade Fantasy Books With Strong Female Characters

Seven Wild Sisters: A Modern Fairy Tale written by Charles de Lint and illustrated by Charles Vess: I don’t know when Charles de Lint began writing children’s books, but I love his adult fantasy fiction. This illustrated book is about a girl who wishes to meet a fairy and unknowingly becomes ensnared in a longtime battle between rival magical clans after her six sisters are kidnapped.

The Cats of Tanglewood Forest written by Charles de Lint and illustrated by Charles Vess: A companion to Seven Wild Sisters, this book introduces us to Tanglewood, a magical forest full of fairies-if you know where to look.  Lillian has never seen a wisp of magic in her hills–until the day the cats of the forest save her life by transforming her into a kitten. She sets on a dangerous adventure in order to make everything right.

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures written by Kate diCamillo and illustrated by K.G. Campbell: We haven’t read this 2014 Newberry  Winner yet but the synopsis is entertaining on its own. “It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences. The squirrel never saw the vacuum cleaner coming, but self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, who has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You!, is the just the right person to step in and save him.” How can you go wrong with a squirrel, a smart girl, and a vacuum cleaner?

Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff: My sister introduced Sophia to this fractured fairy tale and Sophia has reread it several times. Rump is the butt (get it?) of everyone’s joke until he discovers that he can spin straw into gold. His best friend Red Riding Hood warns him that magic can get him in trouble, but he doesn’t heed her caution. Soon, Rump spins himself into a curse. Can he and Red break the curse?

The Spirit Animal series (various authors): Sophia loves the entire series and eagerly awaits for the next installment. Written by masters of children’s fantasy (Shannon Hale, Garth Nix, Brandon Mull, Tui T. Sutherland), this fantasy series features a diverse team of children who are able to communicate with animals. Together with their spirit animals, they must save the world from danger. There are currently 5 books in the series and more to come.

If you want to try out the series, Spirit Animals: Book 1: Wild Born is currently free for Kindle and Kindle app.

Ever After High series by Shannon Hale: I had to add these to the list because it’s one of Sophia’s favorite series. Though based on the television series and line of dolls, I learned that Hale has creative license with the characters. Ever After High is a high school for the children of familiar fairy tale characters. Sophia’s (and Hale’s) favorite character is Maddie Hatter, the Mad Hatter’s daughter. Think of it as Once Upon a Time in book form for middle grade.

If you want to try out the series, several Ever After High novellas are free on Kindle and Kindle app: Ever After High: Raven Queen’s StoryEver After High: Apple White’s StoryEver After High: Briar Beauty’s Story.

 Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin: I have lost count how many times Sophia has re-read. With the feel of a folk tale and the magic of a fantasy, the story follows Minli and her quest to find the Old Man on the Moon. Her adventures are peppered with folk tales about Chinese dragons that Minli heard from her father. Not only has Sophia read this book twice, she’s even read passages out loud to me.

READ MORE: Multicultural Children’s Fantasy & Science Fiction Books

We Met Shannon Hale and She’s Awesome!

Kids Meeting Shannon Hale-I'm Not the Nanny

Sophia is a huge bookworm. I couldn’t be prouder.

My heart burst with happiness to see Sophia meet Shannon Hale. Even better, Shannon Hale was amazing with all the children at her reading! She even dressed up as the character in her new book The Princess in Black (affiliate link).


Living in a the DC metro area means that lots of cool authors visit for author talks and signings. Shannon Hale spoke at the Takoma Park Library last week and we rushed to make the talk. I met Shannon Hale briefly during Book Expo America when signed two books from Sophia’s favorite fantasy series (book titles are affiliate links):

Spirit Animals: Book 4: Fire and Ice

Ever After High: The Storybook of Legends

Sophia loves these books because fantasy is her favorite genre. I love these books because they feature diverse characters and strong female characters. I started to follow her on Twitter after meeting her and learned that she’s a huge supporter of We Need Diverse Books.

Shannon Hale was there to read from her newest book (beginner chapter book) The Princess in Black, which is about a princess super hero. She wears black and fights monsters.  I love this book! I wish we’d had it when Sophia was younger and in her princess phase. However, it’s also good for Jaxson to read too. Girls can be superheroes too! We bought a copy of The Princess in Black and Rapunzel’s Revenge, a fractured fairy tale graphic novel she co-wrote with her husband Dean Hale.

Sophia was thrilled to meet one of her favorite authors. She and Shannon chatted about the different characters in her Ever After series. It made me so happy to see the two of them chat. Shannon was amazing with every child she spoke to, whether they had read her book or not.

Thanks Shannon Hale for writing such great books for my kids!


Baltimore BookFest #WeNeedDiverseBooks Panel Recap

Baltimore Book Festival 2014-I'm Not the Nanny

Last week I volunteered to live tweet the We Need Diverse Books panel at the Baltimore Book Festival last Friday. I’m a huge supporter of the campaign as the topic is so important for my family–and for you, my readers. As you recall, I had the honor of representing the campaign at the Bloganthropy Awards this summer. I haven’t been to this festival in a few years because it usually coincided with the National Book Festival. This year the Bmore Book Fest was moved to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and the weather was gah-geous! I thought it was a great location for the festivities.

Baltimore Inner Harbor #BBF2014-I'm Not the Nanny

The Baltimore Book Festival truly has a festival feel. There’s a bunch of booksellers, talks and panels on diverse topics, food tents (turkey leg, anyone?), food demos, and plenty of kid friendly activities. Not to mention people selling wine, beer, cocktails, and coffee. You an easily spend an entire day there.

Bmore Book Fest #WeNeedDiverseBooks panel-I'm Not the Nanny

(LtR) Ellen Oh, Karen Sandler, Caroline Richmond, Justina Ireland

I had briefly met Ellen Oh at Book Expo America but she was mobbed. I hope she doesn’t think I’m stalking her. I just love the We Need Diverse Books movement and want to help as much as I’m able. On the panel were:

It was a great discussion and my thumbs couldn’t tweet fast enough to catch all the tidbits! I’ll try to put together a Storify about the panel once the kids are in bed tonight. In the meantime, you can do a twitter search with both the #WeNeedDiverseBooks #BBF2014 hashtags.

#WeNeedDiverseBooks Panelists at #BBF2014-I'm Not the Nanny

I found myself nodding at everything the panelists said. I grew up with a lack of diverse books and I’m doing my darndest to make sure my kids have access to diverse books. But not everyone is in an environment where that is possible or they don’t know where to find diverse books or understand why their community needs them.

Caroline Richmond #WeNeedDiverseBooks #BBF2014-I'm Not the Nanny

I was also thrilled to learn about Caroline Richmond’s new YA novel The Only Thing to Fear who has a biracial protagonist. She said she wanted to write books that her daughter (who is biracial) could identify with. Even though her daughter is only 7 months old, I’m glad that authors like Caroline are realizing the need for books featuring biracial characters. I can’t to read it and pass it along to Sophia when she’s old enough!

Thien-Kim with Ellen Oh at #WeNeedDiverseBooks #BBF2014-I'm Not the Nanny

I had to my selfie with Ellen Oh because my friend Pam of The Unconventional Librarian requested it. So happy now, PammyPam?

Have you read any of these authors’ books? I’m not usually a YA reader, but I’m going to get a copy of Caroline Richmond’s book.

7 Books About Mid-Autumn Moon Festival aka Tet Trung Thu

 7 Books About Mid-Autumn Moon Festival-I'm Not the Nanny

This year’s Mid-Autumn Moon Festival is September 8, 2014. It snuck up on me this year, but I have plenty of time to prepare. In Vietnamese, we call it Têt Trung Thu, which falls the 15th day of the 8th month on the lunar calendar (the full moon).

Even if you’re not Vietnamese or Chinese, your family can celebrate too! The festival begin during the Xia and Shang Dynasties (2000 BCE-1066CE) in China as a harvest celebration. Since Vietnam is heavily influenced by Chinese culture, my family celebrates Têt Trung Thu (prounounced “teht troong too”) as well.

Our family usually celebrates by reading folk tales about the moon festival, making or lighting lanterns, and we usually skip the moon cakes. (Find out why.) If you’re in the DC area, next week I’ll share some local Moon Festival celebrations you can take your family.

You can celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival in your home too.

Books About The Moon Festival

Children of the Dragon: Selected Tales from Vietnam (Harcourt) by Sherry Garland is a collection of Vietnamese folktales. In it is the story of Chu Cuoi (literally Uncle Laughter) who finds a magical banyan tree whose wife Nguyet Thien accidentally cut the trees roots. The magical banyan tree pulls out its roots and floats into the sky. Chu Cuoi grabs the tree to keep it on the ground but is pulled up to the moon instead. This is a great book to have in your collection.

The Moon Lady by Amy Tan is beautifully illustrated by Gretchen Schields. I’m a huge Amy Tan fan and this is the only book that she’s written for a younger audience. Adapted from The Joy Luck Club, the story is about Ying-Ying and how, as a little girl, she encounters the Moon Lady, who grants the secret wishes of those who ask.

Surprise Moon

Surprise Moon (Lee and Low) by Caroline Hatton is a perfect book for younger children. In this picture book, Nick who is Vietnamese American shares with his classmates about his favorite things about the the Mid-Autumn Festival. This book is a great introduction to the celebration.

Thanking the Moon: Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival (Knopf) by Grace Lin shows how a Chinese American family celebrates the Moon festival. Our family loves Lin’s picture books. Her illustrations are bright and full of color.

Lin Yi’s Lantern by Brenda Williams tells the story of Lin Yi, who is given money to buy items at the market for that evening’s Moon Festival. If he bargains well, he can buy himself a red rabbit lantern. But first he must purchase all the items his mom needs. Can he do it?

Moonbeams, Dumplings & Dragon Boats: A Treasury of Chinese Holiday Tales, Activities & Recipes by Nina Simonds and Leslie Swartz covers several Chinese holidays and festivals including the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. Learn more about how Chinese culture celebrates the festival with a folktale, crafts and recipes.

A Full Moon Is Rising (Lee and Low) by Marilyn Singer is a collection of poems about different moon festivals around the world. It’s a good follow up after your family learns about the Mid-Autumn Festival.

One of my favorite things about Mid-Autumn Moon Festival is the FOOD! That deserves its own post.

9 Kids Picture Books About Louisiana

9 Kids Picture Books About Louisiana-I'm Not the Nanny

Even though my kids won’t return to Louisiana until next summer’s Grandparents Camp, I can still bring Louisiana to them. Because of its rich history, Louisiana is blend of many different culture. Luckily, there are a lot of fun picture books that share my birth state’s food, folklore, and even a Cajun twist on traditional stories.

After reading these books to your kids, try cooking some shrimp etouffee or cajun red beans together. Better yet, make mini king cakes (who cares if it’s not Mardi Gras season?).

Here’s 8 picture books about Louisiana culture:

P is for Pelican: A Louisiana Alphabet by Anita C. Prieto is a great introduction Louisiana’s diverse wildlife and culture. Written in rhyme, this book will be fun to read aloud.

Today Is Monday In Louisiana by Johnette Downing is based off her song by the same title. This fun book illustrates and shares the best of Cajun, Creole, African and French foods. You’ll definitely be hungry after reading this book. Check out a video of the song after you read it.

In my grade school days, field trips to the New Orleans Audubon Zoo were my favorite. Even if you can’t visit in person any time soon, What the Sleepy Animals Do at the Audubon Zoo by Grace Millsaps and Ryan Murphy is a great way to armchair travel. Renee’s father spins a tale of why the animals are always asleep when the visit the zoo. Only you can decide if there’s any truth to his story.

Hurricane Katrina’s destruction of the New Orleans and the Louisiana coast is an integral part of the state’s history.  A Place Where Hurricanes Happen by Renee Watson tells the story from the eyes of four young friends and how the disaster changed their live forever. While the subject matter might feel dark, the book captures the resiliency of New Orleans and of its children.

Petite Rouge: A Cajun Red Riding Hood by Mike Artell is a twist on a well-known classic, except that our wolf is really an alligator named Claude and Petite Rouge (Little Red in French) is a duck. Told in rhyme, this retelling is full of Cajun expressions and words.

Mike Artell retells another classic in Three Little Cajun Pigs. Our three pigs Trosclair, Thibodeaux, and Ulysse have been kicked out of the house and must make sure good ole Claude the Gator doesn’t eat them!

As a toddler, Sophia’s favorite story was The Little Red Hen. I have no doubt she’d enjoy it with a Cajun twist like in Gator Gumbo: A Spicy-Hot Tale by Candace Fleming. Monsieur Gator is growing old and can’t no longer catch his dinner. So he devises a plan with a huge pot of gumbo.

Sure Louisiana is full of fun food and music, but we can’t ignore its history of racism and segregation. The Story Of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles addresses the topic of school desegregation in a way young readers can relate to. Ruby Bridges, at a six-years-old, became the first African American girl to integrate Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans in 1960.

I have fond memories of my elementary school teacher reading us Cajun Night Before Christmas by Trosclair. This version has Papa Noel’s “sleigh” pulled by flying alligators. Told in rhyme like the original story, the Cajun dialect bring Louisiana right into your home.

7 Children’s Books About Food Around the World

7 Children's Books About Food Around the World-I'm Not the Nanny

Summer is the time for road trips and family vacations.  Some of our friends are traveling all over the world and I can’t help but feel jealous when I see their beach photos or shots of exotic landscapes. My kids enjoy traveling as much as I do, so when we can’t hop in the car or a plane, we travel via food. Cooking food from different cuisines and countries is a fun and hands on way to learning about other cultures. Why not read some books for inspiration?

The folks at Tuttle Publishing sent me some fun books about food from Asian, plus I’ve added a few I’ve discovered. (All links below are affiliate links.)

Are you ready to travel and eat around the world with these children’s books about food around the world?

When our box of books arrived, the first one Sophia grabbed was Fun with Asian Food: A Kids’ Cookbook by Mirijke Den Ouden and Devagi Sanmugam (Tuttle). After checking out all recipes, she settled on making Indian Fruit Lassi. Each recipe is easy to read with hand drawn illustrations for each step, making it perfect for even little kids to “read.” Both kids helped to make our strawberry lassis. We froze the extra and made lassi popsicles, which were a hit! The kids and I are looking forward to making the other recipes in the book. The cookbook contains recipes from India, China, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Bali, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and Philippines.

Everybody Eats Lunch by Cricket Azima (Glitterati Inc) is an interactive board book that shows what other kids around the world eat for lunch. Learn what time lunch is eaten and what it’s called in different languages. There’s removeable pieces that explain the different foods. It’s super cute! I wish I’d seen this when my kids were younger.

Let’s Eat!/A Comer! (My Family: Mi Familia) by Pat Mora (Rayo) is a Spanish/English bilingual book that will introduce your kids to Mexican foods and what their Spanish names. This is a fun book to read if you want to start a Taco Tuesday tradition with your family. A great book for preschoolers.

Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji by F. Zia and Ken Min (Lee & Low) deserve another mention because I love reading this book out loud. It’s a fun read and shows how traditional food is incorporated into American life. Plus Dada-ji is pretty awesome!

Ok, so Louisiana isn’t really international but the cuisine there is a melting pot of many different cultures–just like the people who live there. Gator Gumbo: A Spicy-Hot Tale by Candace Fleming (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux) is a Cajun take on the classic The Little Red Hen. After you’re done reading it, you  might be inspired to make your own gumbo.

Travel to Morocco with The Butter Man by Elizabeth Alalou (Charlesbridge) as Nora’s father tells her about his childhood. While the mouthwatering pot of couscous simmers, Nora learns about her grandfather’s patience and perseverance as he works to bring food to his family during a famine.

If your kids are squeamish about trying new foods, read them Do Mice Eat Rice? by Al Write and Roger Clarke (Tuttle). Told in rhyme with hilarious illustrations, this book wonders how different animals would react when they try new foods.