Tag Archives: cultures


GRANDPARENTS – they are full of stories, experiences and wisdom. What can grandparents share with their grandchildren and how can we learn from their stories? These (picture) books all share the love and memories children have of their elders and the stories they can tell. The past leads to the future…

Sometimes you come across a book so perfect that is forms a whole world on its own. Green Papayas by Nhung N. Tran-Davies, illustrated by Gillian Newland is such a book. The illustrations, alternating between light coloured pages and dark, subdued ones, the text and the design work together to tell a touching story. 

Three young children play in muddle puddles when their mother calls them to gather around Oma’s bed. She’s been in hospital and can’t remember their names. But the mother tells her mother’s story of caring for her children during difficult times. Oma grew food, fed and clothed them. She kept them safe during a war and eventually managed to get them to a new country where they could start over. While the moon watches over them, Oma passes away and the family gathers to remember and be grateful. ISBN 978-0889955608, Red Deer Press

Every Wrinkle Has A Story is told by Israeli author David Grossman, illustrated by Italian artist Ninamasina. Like many Groundwood books, this one is unique and touching.

Grandpa Amnon picks Yotam up from school and, on their way home, they often stop at a neighborhood cafe. There, tucked in a corner, Yotam asks about grandpa’s wrinkles. What caused them? How will a face know to make wrinkles? He discovers that wrinkles come in different shapes. Some were made by sad things, others by laughing about happy things. In the end, Yotam is inspired to draw grandpa’s wrinkles on paper. ISBN 978-1-77306-827-5, Groundwood Books

Molly Misses Nainai by Emman Chen, illustrated by Sean Huang, is the story of Molly whose grandmother has been with her always but who needs to now return to China because her visa has expired. Molly misses her so much that she packs her suitcase and follows the snowy road from her home in Canada. Molly’s mom fetches her and together they reminisce about grandmother. And when grandmother joins Molly on her ipad and sings her favourite lullaby, Molly knows that she will always be there. A touching story about grandparents far away, with beautiful, tender illustrations. A good picture book to share with students who can relate to this problem because their grandparents live in another country. ISBN 978-0889956889, Red Deer Press.

When I Visited Grandma by Saumiya Balasubramaniam, illustrated by Kavita Ramchandran, is the story of Maya who can’t believe she is finally visiting her grandma in India. Grandma is not impressed by Maya’s fashion of ripped pants and wants to fix them for her. Together they go to the market where Maya is overwhelmed by sights and sounds. And everyone want to visit her, bringing gifts of food. All those friendly neighbors are too much for Maya. When grandma lands in hospital, Maya wants to visit her but she can’t say goodbye before having to fly back home. Luckily, grandma soon calls her on her iPad and Maya is happy to know grandma will be fine. This picturebook paints a nice picture of two very different places and a common bond that overcomes the distance between them. ISBN 978-1-77306-833-6, Groundwood 

Grandpa’s Stars by Carolyn Huizinga Mills, illustrated by Samantha Lucy Haslam is a celebration of constellations.

A child from the city gets to stay with her grandpa in the country. But at grandpa’s house it is too dark to sleep as branches cast scary shadows. Until grandpa shows his grandchild the night sky, where millions of pin pricks of light dance and make amazing pictures – the ‘lights of your imagination’ grandpa says. And when grandpa has to go to hospital and the child is sad, they knows just what to do: recreate those lights and shapes on the bedroom ceiling!  ISBN 978-1554554638, Fitzhenry & Whiteside

Kaiah’s Garden by Melanie Florence and Karlene Harvey.

Based on traditional beadwork, this is the story of Kaiah who has just moved to a new house in a new street in a new city. But all Kaiah wants is to be back at grandmother’s house. This new house smells different and she misses her grandmother. But the beadwork they had made together helps her to remember: the roses, the turtle, the sun of grandmother’s garden. And the traditional beadwork encourages her to create a beautiful new garden at her new house, that might not be so bad after all. ISBN 978-1443190251, North Winds Press

Margriet Ruurs is a writer of many books for children. She loves to learn about different countries and cultures through books. For school visits cantact her: www.margrietruurs.com

From Far Away…

Or perhaps from not so far away… These books showcase stories from a variety of cultures and countries that all show how similar we really are. Whether you need courage in Pakistan or a friend in Afghanistan, we all share similar feelings and needs. Through books, we can learn from each other.

Ang Mahiyaing Manok by Rebecca T. Anonuevo and Ruben de Jesus, is a lovely illustrated picture book told in two languages: Filipino (Tagalog) and English.

Onyok is a young rooster who just can’t crow like the others. They are experienced and know just what to do. The old roosters crow day and night. But no matter how hard Onyok tried, he can’t do it and gives up, feeling quite worthless.

His mother and the old roosters support him. They show him just what to do and encourage him to keep trying. And when Onyok finally manages his crow, he vouches to help other young roosters when he grows older. ISBN 971-508-074-X, Adarna House

Crescent Moon Friends

Crescent Moon Friends by Wadia Samadi, Mo Duffy Cobb and art by Lisa Lypowy is a gentle story about Aisha who has to leave her home in Afghanistan, and Amelia who likes to look at the moon. When Aisha joins her class, Amelia becomes her friend. They discover how much they share in values and interests. The girls as well as their families learn much from each other and are enriched by their new friendships. ISBN 978-177-3660967, Acorn Press

Silent Music, A Story of Baghdad by James Rumford is a skillfully produced picture book for all ages. Ali lives in Baghdad. He loves playing soccer on the dusty streets. But most of all he loves practising calligraphy, just like the legendary calligrapher Yakut. When bombs fall on Ali’s city he, too, fills his mind with peace by practising the flowing words. A beautiful story of peace amid a city in turmoil. ISBN 978-1-59643-276-5, Roaring Brook Press

YouTube Read Aloud:

Malala Speaks Out is the acceptance speech given by Malala Yousafzai upon receiving the Nobel Peace Price. This book should be read by any student and educator. “Instead of painting our hands with hanna flowers,” Malala says, “my friends and I used to paint them with mathematical equations.” When ‘education went from being a right to being a crime’, Malala decided to speak out. Her strong voice recounts situations for more than 60 million girls across the world. This powerful speech can inspire many and help them to realize the importance of education. Commentary in the back of the book, by Clara Fons Duocastella help to put events into context. ISBN 978-1- 77306-916-6, Groundwood Books

Margriet Ruurs is a Canadian author of many multi-cultural books for children. She is currently taking bookings at International Schools for the 2023-24 school year.