Books for Younger Children

Tea with Milk by Allen Say

This beautiful picture book tells the true story of the author’s mother. The American-born daughter of Japanese parents, Masako faces culture shock when she returns to Japan as a high school graduate with an American mindset. Struggling with expectations that she will be a proper Japanese lady, she leaves home and eventually discovers a way to blend her two worlds. The format of this book makes it accessible to young children, but the story also appeals to teens. It is a great discussion starter about re-entry for any age.

When Africa Was Home by Karen Lynn Williams

Beautifully written and illustrated, this is one of the most beloved TCK picture books. Peter enjoys life with his African friend in a tribal village until his family has to return to America. In the new place he experiences new things, but continues to hope to return “home” to Africa soon. The story is simple, but appeals to all ages.

The Adventure Begins:  First Day at Detinu International School by Jen Munnerlyn

Written specifically for TCKs, this is a book for young readers about Sydney's first day at a new school - an international school overseas. In a class full of kids from various countries, she finds a friend in a Korean girl who is also new to the school. A good book for children moving overseas for the first time or for those who have been in international school who want to read a story about a school like theirs.

Chopsticks for My Noodle Soup:  Eliza’s Life in Malaysia by Susan E. Goodman

Five-year old Eliza moves with her parents to a remote village in Malaysia. This book, illustrated with actual photographs (taken by her father), describes her day-to-day life, from brushing her teeth with boiled water, to feeding chickens, to going to school where she plays with her Malaysian classmates.

I’m New Here by Bud Howlett

Jazmin has just arrived in the U.S. from El Salvador. Her mother takes her to visit her school ahead of time, but she is still nervous because she does not speak any English. Her homeroom teacher mispronounces her name, and she does not understand what people are saying to her until she makes a friend who begins to teach her English. A good story for immigrant or expat kids who have to adjust to both a new school and a new language.

Annie…Anya:  A Month in Moscow by Irene Trivas

Five-year old Annie and her parents move to Moscow for a month. When she first arrives, everything is unfamiliar - even the alphabet. Annie copes with the unwelcome changes by withdrawing until she makes friends with Anya, a Russian girl at her day care. A touching picture of a child experiencing and overcoming culture shock. [Out of print, but usually available on Amazon]

Sammy’s Next Move by Helen Maffini

Sammy the snail has already moved three times, and now his family is leaving Italy to go to Japan. As he reflects on the countries where he's lived and looks ahead to this move, Sammy feels many emotions. But when he remembers the fun times and friends he's made in the past, he begins to look forward to his next adventure. The book focuses on feelings TCK have about moving, so the storyline itself is not as strong as in other books from this section where the story is primary and the message is secondary. But young TCKs who like hearing Sammy shares he experiences and feelings would enjoy this book.

Chopsticks from America by Elaine Nagano and Masayuki Miyata

Two Japanese-American children, ages 5 and 11, move to Japan after their father takes a job there. Though they are recognized as "gaijin" (foreigners), they struggle with looking like everybody else when they don't feel like they fit. The children take different approaches to getting through cultural shock, but both eventually discover that they’ve grown in “ways that can’t be measured by a yardstick.” This oversized chapter/picture book is long for young children but would be good for older elementary or middle-schoolers, especially expat or immigrant children returning to their home countries.

A Country Far Away by Nigel Gray, Illustrated by Dupasquier Philippe

In this delightful book, side-by-side pictures illustrate the same story line, showing similarities and differences between the lives of two boys, one in a town in North America and one in a rural African village. Enjoy this book as a fun story for kids (or any age). Or use it as a training tool for children preparing to move internationally, to help them develop observation skills, or to start a discussion about things that might be the same and different in the new country.

Three Little Kids and the State Department by Elaine Guihan

Follow Colin, Alex and Jim to five different countries over the course of sixteen years and see how the ups and downs made for an exciting but challenging childhood.  This book tells the story of a family who experienced a variety of countries and their cultures, and had some fun along the way.

Where in the World are you Going? by Judith Blohm

Moving overseas presents a special set of challenges to children. Judith Blohm uses her cross-cultural training experience to offer a guide for children whose families are moving overseas. An entertaining book that is used by major relocation companies all over the world, Where in the World Are You Going? is aimed at children ages five to ten and contains activities and drawings meant to engage a young audience, plus practical suggestions on staying in touch with friends and relatives. Perhaps the most challenging concept involves cultural differences, and Blohm tackles this head on. Through a series of simple examples, she captures the essence of cultural differences in a non-threatening manner that will stimulate children to learn more and ultimately embrace the differences they encounter.

When Abroad Do As the Local Children Do by Hilly van Swol-Ulbrich and Bettina Kaltenhauser

Children who have moved to a new country come to understand their new environment through the travels of an adventurous migrating bird in this children's guide to thriving as a newcomer to a foreign nation. Focusing on overcoming the strains of living in a foreign country, this story encourages children to explore and actively participate in their new world. Children follow Ori as he leads them through an international move, from packing and saying good-bye to discovering a country's quirks and overcoming homesickness. Supported by a web site designed for children, this inspirational tale includes a special section for parents and teachers with a 10-point action plan and lists of resources.

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 © 2014 Foreign Service Youth Foundation

Foreign Service Youth Foundation

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Arlington, VA  22205


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