2016 Reading Project

My 2016 Reading Project – A Children’s Book from Every Country of the World

Although I grew up in six countries, I realize that my reading has been disproportionately American and European authors. Inspired by Ann Morgan’s TED Talk and blog, A Year of Reading the World, my 2016 project is to read a children’s book from every country of the world (using the UN list of member states although I’m happy to include the observer and other states).  I found links to international children’s book sources on Ann Morgan's blog, and my local librarians have been fabulous, but if anyone has advice for finding more children’s books written by non-U.S. authors or has a favorite book that meets these criteria, please contact me: 

1)  the author at least grew up in that country, even if living elsewhere now
2)  the book is available in English

Ideally, I’d love the book to be reflective of the culture (which I interpret very broadly) or important events that happened there or be about current issues.  For example, my U.S. book is All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. 

I’d also like a mix of picture books and novels.  Frankly, I’m not a fast reader and 200 children’s novels would take a long time to read on top of other reading, writing, teaching, traveling, and life in general.

As I gather books, I’ll list them here by country, author and title, and eventually, what I’ve learned -- the fascinating differences and the common denominator, humanity.  Thanks for your help!  Peace, Salam, Shalom.

Afghanistan -- Tony O'Brien and Michael Sullivan, AFGHAN DREAMS (photo essay, great way to introduce kids to what it's like to be a young person in Afghanistan)

Albania
Algeria
Andorra

Angola -- Agostinho Neto, Western Civilization (poem:  sad view of urban life—work, hunger, death)

Antigua and Barbuda

Argentina --Isol, PETIT, THE MONSTER (a sweet and humorous look at what’s good and bad and how hard it is for a kid to tell the difference)

Armenia

Australia -- Boori Monty Pryor, SHAKE A LEG (reflects great culture of storytelling, stories within a story, in a contemporary, upbeat, unifying picture book)

Austria -- Georg Rauch, UNLIKELY WARRIOR: A JEWISH SOLDIER IN HITLER'S ARMY (fascinating--war is hell from any angle, even worse when you're caught in the middle)

Azerbaijan
Bahamas
Bahrain
Bangladesh
Barbados
Belarus

Belgium -- Aline Sax, THE WAR WITHIN THESE WALLS (powerful verse novel) 

Belize

Benin -- Raouf Mama, WHY GOATS SMELL BAD (folk tales of the Fon)

Bhutan
Bolivia
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Botswana

Brazil -- Daniel Munduruku, AMAZONIA: INDIGENOUS TALES FROM BRAZIL (also, I'm awaiting translation of a young Brazilian's picture book ....)

Brunei
Bulgaria
Burkina Faso

Burundi -- Traditional, A Heart (poem, like a proverb)

Cabo Verde
Cambodia

Cameroon -- Claude-Joseph M’bafou Zetebeg, The Free Bird (poem: an ode to freedom)

Canada -- Fanny Britt & Isabelle Arsenault, JANE, THE FOX AND ME (graphic picture book of lonesome girl finding solace in JANE EYRE, a fox and, finally, a friend)

Central African Republic
Chad

Chile -- Antonio Skarmeta, THE COMPOSITION (chilling idea that the army can make kids write a composition of exactly what their parents do at home)

China -- Ma Yan, THE DIARY OF MA YAN (actual diary of young teen in remote rural China, reflecting the life and culture and traditions of the Hui people); Chen Jiang Hong, THE MAGIC HORSE OF HAN GAN (traditional folk story based on actual 8th century artist, with gorgeous artwork)

Colombia -- Jairo Buitrago, TWO WHITE RABBITS (touching story of a father & daughter's train journey to U.S., as seen through her eyes) 

Comoros
Congo, Republic of the
Congo, Democratic Republic of the
Costa Rica

Cote d'Ivoire -- Veronique Tadjo, The Song of Life (poem:  cycle of life in a tropical and semiarid land)

Croatia
Cuba
Cyprus

Czech Republic -- Petr Ginz, THE DIARY OF PETR GINZ (teenager in concentration camp who, like Anne Frank, did not make it)

Denmark -- Hafdan Rasmussen, A LITTLE BITTY MAN AND OTHER POEMS FOR THE VERY YOUNG (hilarious, and translated by Marily Nelson!)

Djibouti -- Abdourahman A. Waberi, Nomadic Poem (poem: concrete details of desert life)

Dominica
Dominican Republic
Ecuador
Egypt

El Salvador -- Rene Colato Lainez, RENE HAS TWO LAST NAMES, RENE TIENE DOS APELLIDOS (great way to introduce kids to the fact that Latino, and many cultures, honor more family members than the standard U.S. last name)

Equatorial Guinea
Eritrea
Estonia

Ethiopia -- Traditional, What a Fool He Is (poem: searching for lost love)

Fiji
Finland

France -- Evelyne Holingue, CHRONICLES FROM CHATEAU MOINES (American boy moves to France in early 1970's--great view from the other side)

Gabon -- Traditional, Invocation to the Rainbow (I wonder if the “hunter” in the stars is Orion?)

Gambia
Georgia
Germany -- Sebastian Meschenmoser, MR. SQUIRREL AND THE MOON (quirky, fun picture book)
Ghana -- Meshack Asare, SOSU'S CALL (a story of how we can all contribute, no matter what our difficulties may be)

Greece -- Eugene Trivizas, THE THREE LITTLE WOLVES AND THE BIG BAD PIG (fun twist on the traditional tale by one of Greece's beloved authors)
Grenada
Guatemala -- OUT OF THE DUMP, Writings and Photographs by Children from Guatemala (amazing, poignant stories and photos from kids who actually live in the giant dump in Guatemala City)
Guinea
Guinea-Bissau
Guyana
Haiti -- Edwidge Danticat, MAMA'S NIGHTINGALE (touching, heartbreaking look at how harsh immigration laws affect children and families)
Honduras
Hungary

Iceland -- Andri Snaer Magnason, THE STORY OF THE BLUE PLANET (imaginative story with humor but also a great parable)
India -- Padma Venkatraman, A TIME TO DANCE (beautiful verse novel)
Indonesia -- Innosanto Nagara, COUNTING ON COMMUNITY (an urban, multicultural counting book)
Iran -- Anahita Teyourian, A BIRD LIKE HIMSELF (leaving-the-nest picture book)
Iraq
Ireland
Israel -- Uri Orlev, THE ISLAND ON BIRD STREET (Jewish boy hiding in the Warsaw ghetto in World War Two, as the author himself did)
Italy
Jamaica
Japan
Jordan -- Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah (even though she lived in Palestine and Kuwait and fled to Jordan with her family when she was 21, I'm choosing this strong, level-headed, fair-minded woman to represent Jordan), THE SANDWICH SWAP (tolerating and appreciating cultural differences)
Kazakhstan
Kenya -- Joseph Lemasolai Lekuton, FACING THE LION: GROWING UP MAASAI ON THE AFRICAN SAVANNAH (I loved this when it first came out in 2003 and it's still a great read)
Kiribati
Kosovo
Kuwait -- Maha Addasi, THE WHITE NIGHTS OF RAMADAN (a beautiful way to learn about Girgian -- kids getting candy! -- in the middle of Ramadan; also check out Addasi's sweet and soulful A TIME TO PRAY)
Kyrgyzstan
Laos
Latvia
Lebanon -- Zeina Abarached, A GAME FOR SWALLOWS (like PERSEPOLIS in style and theme-- a story of resilience)
Lesotho
Liberia -- Ophelia S. Lewis, GOOD MANNER ALPHABETS: HOW TO BE A SUPER POLITE KID (universal social rules for kids with cute illustrations)

Libya
Liechtenstein
Lithuania
Luxembourg

Macedonia
Madagascar
Malawi -- William Kamkwamba with Bryan Mealer, THE BOY WHO HARNESSED THE WIND (fantastic story of resilience and honing your talents)
Malaysia
Maldives
Mali
Malta
Marshall Islands
Mauritania
Mauritius
Mexico -- Duncan Tonatiuh, PANCHO RABBIT AND THE COYOTE (great parable; like so many of the books on this list it can be appreciated by both kids and adults)
Micronesia
Moldova
Monaco
Mongolia
Montenegro
Morocco
Mozambique
Myanmar (Burma)
Namibia
Nauru
Nepal
Netherlands -- Guus Jiujer, THE BOOK OF EVERYTHING (great voice with humor, despite parental abuse)
New Zealand
Nicaragua
Niger
Nigeria
North Korea
Norway -- Stein Erik Lunde, MY FATHER'S ARMS ARE A BOAT (sweet, sad, but comforting picture book)
Oman
Pakistan -- Malala Yousafzai, I AM MALALA (a must read, for everyone)
Palau
Palestine
Panama
Papua New Guinea
Paraguay
Peru
Philippines
Poland -- Janina Porazinska, THE ENCHANTED BOOK (fun folk tale with beautiful Jan Brett illustrations)
Portugal
Qatar
Romania -- Karin Gundisch, HOW I BECAME AN AMERICAN (slim but interesting easy read immigration story)
Russia -- Samuel Marshak, HAIL TO THE MAIL (cute picture book following a snail mail letter around the world)
Rwanda
St. Kitts and Nevis
St. Lucia
St. Vincent and The Grenadines
Samoa
San Marino
Sao Tome and Principe
Saudi Arabia
Senegal
Serbia
Seychelles
Sierra Leone -- Ishmael Beah, A LONG WAY GONE (hard to read but absolutely necessary; a tribute to the power of redemption)
Singapore
Slovakia
Slovenia
Solomon Islands
Somalia
South Africa -- Nelson Mandela (abridged by Chris Van Wyk), LONG WALK TO FREEDOM (another necessary read for the youngest kids to understand a freedom movement)
South (Republic of) Korea -- Yangsook Choi, THE NAME JAR (lovely story of acceptance of self and others)
South Sudan
Spain -- Marta Altes, MY GRANDPA (simple introduction to a grandfather with memory issues, beautifully done for the very young)
Sri Lanka
Sudan
Suriname
Swaziland
Sweden -- Bea Uusma Schyffert, THE MAN WHO WENT TO THE FAR SIDE OF THE MOON (fascinating book about Mike Collins, and cool that it fascinated the author so much)
Switzerland -- Marcus Pfister, RAINBOW FISH series (classic)

Syria
Taiwan
Tajikistan
Tanzania
Thailand -- Jane (Ngarmpun) Vejjajiva, THE HAPPINESS OF KATI (sad story of a mother's death but great resilience of her daughter)
Timor-Leste
Togo
Tonga
Trinidad and Tobago
Tunisia
Turkey
Turkmenistan
Tuvalu
Uganda
Ukraine
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom (UK) -- Frank Cottrell Boyce, COSMOS (or any of his books -- hilarious) and of course JK Rowling's HARRY POTTER series (shout out to Scotland, specifically!)
United States of America (USA) -- Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, ALL AMERICAN BOYS (captures a problem we face in U.S. currently--disproportionate arrest and unanswered abuse of minorities)
Uruguay
Uzbekistan
Vanuatu
Vatican City (Holy See)
Venezuela
Vietnam -- Tran Thi Minh Phuoc, VIETNAMESE CHILDREN'S FAVORITE STORIES (folk tales); Thanhha Lai INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN (based on the author's own experience leaving Vietnam)
Yemen -- Nujood Ali, I AM NUJOOD, AGE 10 AND DIVORCED (Wow. The title says it all. Fortunately, there is a relatively happy ending for her.)
Zambia
Zimbabwe