Surprisingly, one of the most popular articles ever to appear on this blog was a very simple post called: Beautiful multicultural books for children. I had selected six books my kids and I enjoyed for their diversity, and we shared why we thought they were beautiful.
It could be that the article struck a chord because we all see a gaping hole in ethnically diverse children’s literature and children’s lit. written by non Caucasian authors. Or, maybe the post was just a practical way to reserve some colorful books at the library. Regardless, I thought it was time to share some of our francophone finds as I’ve been wanting to get our hands on some lovely French-multicultural books for a while now.
Since we are living in France now, we’ve been able to access a few options – even in our small town library. Here is a selection of the most beautiful multicultural books in French we have found so far*. I tried to focus on books that are written in French rather than ones translated into French. Oh, and, this time round, there’s something for all ages. Enjoy!
Le livre qui parlait toutes les langues
Authors: Alain Serres, Fred Sochard
Publisher: Rue du monde
Age group: 4-7 years
What makes this book so beautiful: Adorable book featuring a main story-line in French, but each page highlights one other language. In that sense, it is a translated book, which is not usually my preference, yet this time the other language blurbs serve their purpose to tickle little ears with 19 other languages. We had fun trying to think of people around us who spoke each language. The hardback comes with a multilingual CD, so thankfully you don’t have to try to invent the Berber or Persian segments!
Les Riches et les Pauvres
Author: Pascale Hédelin
Age group: 6-8 years
Series: Mes p’tites Questions, édition Milan
What makes this book so beautiful: It’s a colorful book that addresses critical questions for little world changers from what it means to be rich, to how to help the poor, to what it looks like to be under-privileged in a developed country – making this a book not about ‘wealthy us’ versus ‘poor them’, but also about underprivileged families on our own doorstep.
Même les mangues ont des papiers
Authors: Yves Pinguilly, Aurélia Fronty
Publisher: Rue du monde
Age group: 6-8 years
What makes this book so beautiful: It’s bright, it’s written from a completely different cultural lens using a creative oral storytelling style. It’s all about the desire to escape to a better world that sends child protagonists hiding in a mango truck headed to the port. They are caught, but the young migrants don’t have papers, unlike the mangoes. A read that is so close to home it’s sobering, yet critical for our times.
Maison d’ailleurs racontées aux enfants d’ici
Authors: Caroline Laffon
Publisher: De la Martinière Jeunesse
Age group: 7-14 years
What makes this book so beautiful: Gorgeous photos draw the reader into the vast differences in housing around the world. This book won’t send you nodding off with long history lessons. It’s practical and visual. Discover how Maassai huts in Tanzania and Kenya are really made, how they are built by women and how huts circle tribal flocks. Perfect choice for budding civil engineers!
La Route des Costumes
Authors: Frédéric Maupomé, Kristel Riethmuller
Age group: 9-12 years
What makes this book so beautiful: I fell in love with this book, which is like an atlas that takes you on a trip around the world through traditional costumes. It could appeal to young girls who love to design fashion outfits. On this page, you land in Yemen, where you learn that women wear a Sharshaf and what it looks like. You find out where Yemen is located and why men carry around a sword on their belts…
Atlas des inégalités
Publisher: Milan Jeunesse
Age group: 10-15 years
What makes this book so beautiful: Creative atlas type book, with a topic per page, all focusing on inequality around the world. Older readers learn about dominant cultures, why some kids can’t go to school or truth about water shortage. A lovely book you want to own so you can read it bit by bit.
Touareg des Neiges
Author: Nabil Louaar
Age group: young adult, adult
What makes this book beautiful: However, I am drawn in by this rare Third Culture Kid (TCK) book in French. It features an Algerian TCK figuring out his identity, torn between city life in the French Haute-Savoie region and his North African cultural roots and loyalties. I haven’t finished it yet, so can’t vouch in its entirety. I can’t wait to finish this book!