Our family has embarked on virtual travels to various countries and regions. To explore these countries and their cultures, we have followed along with the festivals, cooked and eaten traditional foods, learned of traditional handicrafts with hands on exploration, along with many activities to immerse ourselves. Chronicled here are some of these activities.

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Children's Poetry Books to Discover the World | National Poetry Month

Poetry is prose that relies on senses, memories, feelings and rhythm - making it such a great medium to delve into cultural and historical differences, while maintaining a connection between the reader and the author, therefore a connection between ourselves and those we might never have considered.

Then again, with kids it's also just a fun lyrical way to learn something new and to open their eyes to new places!

Here are five books that takes us on a discovery around the world through poetry. They can be enjoyed on their own or as a jumping point to discover so much more. 

Some of these books might be hard to find, I've linked them to Better World Books, who sell new and used books (I am not affiliated) and recommend checking out your local library. 

Around the World in Eighty Poems by James Berry. This great books has poems from over 50 different countries/regions from Inuit traditional poetry to an Australian tree lizard singing for rain - all of which with colorful illustrations. The poetry ranges about so many different subjects that kids will find plenty to appreciate.

Take it further: Take a poem and look up the country/region it's from. Locate it on a map - do you know much about the area? What about the country/culture might inspire this poem.

Let's Celebrate! Festival Poems from Around the World by Debjani Chatterjee. With bright and colorful illustrations, the poetry in this book introduces kids to 24 festivals and celebrations around the world - familiar ones like Christmas and Chinese New Year, and less familiar ones like Purim and Sikh New Year. There are end notes that describe these festivals and where they take place.

Take it further: Look up one or more of the festivals online to see photographs of the celebration. With many festivals, specials foods are eaten - try your hand at cooking the celebratory dishes.

Around the World on Eighty Legs: Animal Poems by Amy Gibson (affiliate link). This is a whimsical book that introduces kids to the diverse wildlife found around the world. There are short verses for 61 different animals, from giraffe to goanna (you'll have to read it to find out what this is!) and they can be pretty silly, making this a great book especially for younger kids.

Take it further: Look up one or more of these animals, find their region on a map and learn about their habitats.

Voices: Poetry and Art from Around the World by Barbara Brenner. I especially liked this book, though I would recommend it for older kids, ages 10 and up. Spanning all continents, the poetry ranges from traditional to contemporary. There are illustrations and photographs related to each culture, and a few facts about the poets, their cultures and the history of the place. 

Take it further: Use these poems and artwork as a jumping point to learn more about the culture/country they're from. Find folk art from that country and be inspired to create your own.

This Same Sky by Naomi Shihab Nye. This book is an anthology of poetry collected from 68 different countries. It isn't illustrated, it's sheer poetry. I would recommend it for kids 11 or 12 and up, unless you have a child who loves reading and hearing poetry. Many of the poems have such a universal theme, which is what makes reading poetry from around the world so valuable with kids - it bridges that gap of seeing others as "other". The poems are indexed by country, which makes it great to search for poetry from a specific country. 

Take it further: With this or any of the books above, host a "poetry tea". Choose a few poems from the same country or region to be read at tea time. Set the table with snacks and tea (or juice) from country, play traditional music from the country in the background and read the poetry in a relaxed atmosphere. For example, we once had Chinese poetry tea time with Chinese tea, Cantonese egg tarts from a local bakery, and pipa music in the background.

I hope you get a chance to explore the world through poetry!

Find more posts exploring culture, geography and history with kids at


  1. That's a good collection of poetry around the world. I think I've seen the first one before, I need to go look and see if it's in my local library.

    1. What would we do without our local libraries? I would be at a complete loss!

  2. Themed poetry tea for a country - wonderful! I'm going to check out some of these books. Thank you!

    1. What a great idea Marie and Lucinda!!

    2. I would love to find more country/region specific poetry books for kids, but it's a challenge - those would make a great addition to a themed poetry tea!

  3. What a great post! Would you be interested in linking up with the Diverse Children's Books Link-up? You can find it at http://pagesandmargins.wordpress.com/2016/06/18/diverse-childrens-books-link-up-june-18-july-1/. Thanks!


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