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Worlds Awaiting: International Books

There is little doubt that we live in a global society. Because the world, in many practical ways has become so much smaller, it is essential for us as human beings to have a better sense of global literacy. For me, global literacy means that people have a strong understanding of the world and how we are all interconnected. While there are lots of ways to develop global literacy—making new friends, enjoying cultural experiences in our own backyards, and even travelling extensively across the world—it will come as no surprise that I find books and reading a fine way to build global literacy. There are many wonderful books that can extend our global viewpoint. However, it is also important to say that there are also some books that are not quite so wonderful. When extending ourselves into global literature it is important that we find the best books to assure that we are not inadvertently consuming incorrect information or hidden stereotypes. 

To help you find those great books, I’d like to recommend the International Board on Books for Young People, or IBBY. This non-profit organization includes members from all over the world who are committed to bringing books and children together. IBBY does amazing work advocating for books from around the world. Among its many programs, it gives out the Hans Christian Andersen Award to a living author or illustrator whose complete works have made a lasting contribution to children’s literature. Among the award recipients will be familiar names like Maurice Sendack and Scott O’Dell. But there will likely be lots of unfamiliar names like Mitsumasa Anno from Japan and Ana Maria Machado from Brazil. There are also national sections of the IBBY such as the United States Board on Books for Young People which produces an Outstanding International Books List each year to represent the best of children’s literature from other countries that are available in the United States. 

One of my favorites from a recent list was a book from the United Kingdom called I Am Henry Finch by Alexis Deacon and illustrated by Viviane Schwarz. This work is a great philosophical picture book that has lots of contrast and texture in the illustrations. So, if you are looking to add a little more global literature to your reading this year, take a tip from Rachel’s World and check out the information that the International Board on Books for Young People has to offer.


By Rachel Wadham, Host, WORLDS AWAITING


At Worlds Awaiting we discuss a wide range of information aimed at supporting adults who want to build literacy skills in their children.   We understand that there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to children’s development, so the information we provide is intended to reach a wide audience. The books and other resources we recommend will also naturally cover a wide range of interests and subject matter that addresses a range of maturity, reading, and comprehension levels.  Since no one understands a child’s needs better than their caretakers, we encourage families to critically select the books and resources that meet their own individual needs and standards.


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