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.
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.