Use the Olympics to Teach Your Kids: 20 Great Books From Around the World!


Olympic Books

The Olympics are coming! My kids love watching the events, and cheering “Go USA!” whenever the Americans are up. This year we’re reading some fun books ahead of time, to introduce them to some of the other countries that will be competing. Here are some great picture books from around the world!


Monsoon by Uma Krishnaswami
In northern India, a young girl waits for the first monsoon to arrive and bring much needed rain to the parched land. Age range: 4-8.

I Live in Tokyo by Mari Takabayashi
Seven-year-old Mimiko shows the reader a year’s worth of events in her life, with lots of colorful illustrations. Age range: 4-7.

The Kite Fighters by Linda Sue Park
In a fascinating story set in fifteenth-century Korea, two brothers discover a shared passion for kites, and end up competing in a national kite-flying competition. Age range: 9 and up.

Shadow Spinner by Susan Fletcher
A retelling of the classic Scherazade fairy tale, told by a young servant girl, Marjan, who has a crippled foot. Marjan is surprised to be drawn into the intrigue of the Sultan’s harem. Age range: 11 and up.

Latin America

For the Love of Soccer! by Pele
An autobiography of Pele, the world-renowned Brazilian soccer player; where he shares all the things he loves about the game. Age range: 3-7.

On the Pampas by Maria Cristina Brusca
A young girl spends a summer learning about life on the pampas at her grandparents’ ranch. Age range: 4-8.

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
A sudden tragedy forces Esperanza and her mother to leave their beautiful hacienda in Mexico, and flee to California in search of work. Esperanza doesn’t like the hard life, but she has to find a way to accept it. Age range: 8-12.


Bikes for Rent by Isaac Olayleye
Lateef, a poor young boy living in western Nigeria, works hard and finds creative ways to earn money so he can afford to ride bicycles with the other village boys in this sweet little story. Age range: 5-9.

Hansel and Gretel by Rachel Isadora
A gorgeous twist on the traditional fairy tale, where Hansel and Gretel get lost in the lush African jungle. Age range: 4-8 years.

Journey to Jo’Burg by Beverly Naidoo
2 children travel alone across South Africa to get to Johannesburg. Their mother has been working in the city, but they need her home because their little sister is dangerously ill. Age range: 8 and up.


Market Day by Eve Bunting
Inspired by her Irish childhood, Eve Bunting writes about two children who observe animals, listen to pipes being played, and experience all the wonder of a country fair in Ireland. Age range: 4 and up.

This is Paris by Miroslav Sasek
Part of Sasek’s classic series of books about cities (first published in the 1950s), This is Paris is a charming introduction to a beautiful city, including many famous Parisian landmarks. Sasek also wrote about London, Munich, Rome, and several other European cities. Age range: 7 and up.

Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan
During WW2, some courageous Norwegian children help their village outwit the Nazi invaders. A fun adventure story that kids will love! Age range: 8-12.

The Good Master by Kate Seredy
City girl Kate leaves Budapest to spend the summer with her cousins in rural Hungary. She and her cousin have all sorts of adventures in this homage to life in pre-war Hungary. Age range: 9 and up.

North America

Good Night Canada by Adam Gamble
A cute book that involves saying “good night” to a bunch of North American landmarks, instilling a wonder of the natural landscape in Canada. Age range: 1-4.

Caribbean Dream by Rachel Isadora
On a West Indian Island, children run, splash, and sing, celebrating their Caribbean home. Age range: 3-7.

The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill
This very sweet story tells how a dedicated teacher changed the lives of her students in a remote Alaskan village. Age range: 9-13.

Possum Magic by Mem  Fox
This adorable book celebrates the unique nature of Australian animals and foods, including lovely watercolor illustrations, and recipes. Age range: 4-7.

Australia ABCs by Sarah Heiman
An alphabetical introduction to the people, geography, plants, animals, and history of Australia. Age range: 5-8.

The Slightly True Story of Cedar B. Hartley
A funny story about a spunky Australian girl who “planned to live an unusual life”. Age range: 9-12 years.
What other kids’ books from around the world do YOU like?