Children’s Books Brought Me the World

I look at the shelf with my childhood books and see the world. By the time I was ten years old, I’d made friends with children living in Scotland, Africa, and Tibet, among other countries. Some introduced me to everyday lives that were both different and the same as mine. Others, showed me that not getting along with people who are different is a global problem.

Wee Gillis in Wee Gillis by Munro Leaf brings his lowland-highland family together…


Marcel in All Alone by Claire Huchet Bishop brings a French village together…


and fighting koala bears in The Bear Party by William Pene Du Bois get along when they dress up in costumes from around the world.


In Miss Happiness and Miss Flower by Rumer Godden, I felt Nona’s loneliness as she struggles to adapt to living with her English relatives, missing the life she knew as an only child in India. Together we built a Japanese dollhouse and navigated sibling relationships.

misshappiness_250At a young age I absorbed concepts many adults still haven’t grasped. If all children grew up with these or similar books, we might live in a world in which all people are welcome and treated with respect.

Here are a few more books that made me who I am:

lonelymaria_madeline mogosflute_daughter


Post a comment with the title of a multicultural children’s book that made a lasting impression on you…or send me an email!







6 thoughts on “Children’s Books Brought Me the World”

    1. Not only great covers, but more than two lines of text per page of the picture books. No wonder we turned out so smart! This seems to be the current cover for “Daughter of the Mountains”:

  1. It’s hard for me to remember which picture books were mine as a little kid (1960s) and which we acquired for my younger siblings (1970s). But I remember reading Taro Yashima’s *Umbrella* (depicting Japanese Americans) to my little sister many times, as well as Ann Kirn’s *Two Pesos for Catalina,* about a little Mexican girl deciding what to buy with money she earned herself. We owned Scholastic paperback editions of both of these. (The monthly Scholastic book order forms were our portal to inexpensive great books throughout my school years.)

    *Umbrella* also gets points for featuring a father and daughter (only). As an adult seeking picture books to give a child with two fathers, I found it almost impossible to find any without mothers–if they included parents at all. (Molly Bang’s books are wonderful exceptions.)

    1. *Umbrella*! Another great book I grew up with. I pictured the illustrations immediately. We must have had the first edition since it came out in 1958 and our mom worked at Viking Press. My sister would have been 3 years old then. I wonder what happened to it. When I reread our childhood books as an adult, almost all Viking, I was impressed with how progressive they seemed. When I mentioned this to my mom, she told me the editor she worked with, whose name escapes me, was Socialist-leaning and the books she published reflected her values. I’ll check out Ann Kirn’s book. Thanks for commenting!

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