a special booklist: I need your help!

June 22, 2010

My friend Kristi and her family live and work in Kurdistan. A few weeks ago, she emailed me with a request for a list of children's books.

Aren't they adventurous?

She's a former elementary school teacher and a current homeschooling mother and although she has a nice stockpile of books to read with her own children, she says that there are no Kurdish books for the local children to read! While it is not surprising that there are no places for her to find English books for her children, I was a bit shocked to learn that there are no Kurdish books either! (Although, if I stop to think about it, I really should not be that surprised.)

Not one to sit idly by and let children go without books, she is working on a plan to translate English children's books into the local language. She then wants to create a library so that the neighborhood children can check out books and read them in their homes. (She's pretty much the best neighbor anyone could have--I know this because she used to be my neighbor!)

I've been working on this list for a couple of weeks. I wanted to share it with you and hopefully, get your suggestions for books she should translate for the Kurdish children.

I had a few criteria in mind when coming up with this list:

1. Books without People

I wanted to find as many books WITHOUT people in them as I possibly could. Not because I think books with people are bad, but I thought that a large amount of books with Western-looking people, skin color, and clothing would perhaps not be the best thing for Kurdish children to read. I felt like books with animals as the main character would be more universal and relevant to their lives.

Books without People (main characters are animals, plants, or vehicles)
The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett
The Umbrella by Jan Brett
The Golden Egg Book by Margaret Wise Brown
The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Freight Train by Donald Crews
Grey Mouse by Anke de Vries
Gossie by Olivier Dunrea
Are You My Mother by P.D. Eastman
Big Dog, Little Dog by P.D. Eastman
Go, Dog, Go! By P.D. Eastman
Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert
Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert
Old Bear by Kevin Henkes
Goodnight Owl by Pat Hutchins
Ten Apples Up on Top by Theo. LeSieg
Hondo and Fabian by Peter McCarty
The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh
God Gave us You by Lisa Tawn Bergren
Whiteblack the Penguin Sees the World by Margaret and H.A. Rey
One Lonely Seahorse by Saxton Freyman
The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown
The Bunny Book by Patsy Scarry

2. Books with inspiring, moral, or uplifting themes

This list does have people in them, but I felt that the overriding themes of the books were too good to pass up. Also, a few of them are more international as they take place in countries other than the U.S. 

Books with People (I love the themes of these books: imagination, friendship, love, selflessness, etc. )
Draw Me a Star by Eric Carle
The Fire Cat by Esther Averill
Bruna by Anne Cottringer
Corduroy by Don Freeman
My Chair by Betsy James
How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers
Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers
Violet's Music by Angela Johnson
Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Not a Box by Antoinette Portis
Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis
The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds
The Squiggle by Carole Lexa Shaeffer
Nine O'Clock Lullaby by Marilyn Singer
Elizabeti's Doll by Stephanie Stuve Bodeen
On Mother's Lap by Anne Herbert Scott

3. Books that will make kids laugh

What's better than reading a book and laughing about it? These are three books that I couldn't fit in the other two categories, so I kind of made this one up!

Will Make Kids Laugh 
Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathman
Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobokina
Put Me In the Zoo by Robert Lopshire

4. Books that Speak without Words

Wordless Book (needs no translation!)
Wave by Suzy Lee

What do you think? What books would you add to my lists? I'd really love to hear your suggestions and I know Kristi would, too.


Caroline Starr Rose said...

The Tacky the Penguin (Helen Lester) books are hilarious. Not sure if the humor will translate, but it's worth a shot.

welcome to our wonderland said...

some great wordless books: Tuesday, Peep, The Red Book, Magpie Magic, A Boy A Dog A Frog, Yellow Umbrella, Yellow Balloon,

Ok I could list tons more if you want? :) you know me and books :)

I love your list

welcome to our wonderland said...

I forgot 2 of my faves: Little Star and The Lion and The Mouse (both wordless)

Chels said...

Wow, your friend is doing a wonderful thing! Your list is incredible. I'm using it for library book inspiration this week!
One book that I would recommend for the non-people list is Don't Worry Bear by Greg Foley. It's about friendship and has only one or two sentences on each page.

vanessa @ silly eagle books said...

Thanks for all the great suggestions--and especially that great list of wordless books! Those would be so perfect and ready for the Kurdish children right away since they require no translation!

Katie Epstein said...

Rainbow Fish (Sharing theme...no people)

Meldrum Fam said...

wow...vanessa...you are amazing! now i just need you to translate them for me! =) this list is awesome! i am inspired already! keep the posts coming!

Mary Ann Dames - Reading, Writing, and Recipes said...

Has your friend checked the International Children's Digital Library or Children's Books Online translations ? I don't see any books listed in Kurdish but maybe on of the other languages might be similar enough to be of help.

Mary Ann Dames - Reading, Writing, and Recipes said...

I found some other sources by doing an Internet search for "childrens books in Kurdish." Language Lizard has bilingual books in English and Kurdish as does Bilingual Books . These sites sell books whereas my previous post was for books available to read on-line. Hope this helps.

Annie said...

Definitely all the Eric Carle books! My daughter loves "Slowly Slowly goes the sloth." I have it practically memorized.

If you want a morally uplifting or lesson teaching book "Kitty Princess and the Newspaper Dress" by Emma Carlow teaches preschoolers that demanding things won't get you what you want and asking nicely and saying sorry brings a much better response.

I totally admire your friend for doing this! Sounds like you have a fantastic list so far!

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