Imagine traveling to other worlds with little cost and effort. You can if you choose to #ReadAroundtheWorld!
Reading is like traveling. You can go to entirely different worlds without leaving your living room. In July we ran the first YourGlobalFamily #ReadAroundtheWorld Challenge. It provided the opportunity for parents to read stories to their children, opening their minds to new places and cultures.
Even though our kids are grown up, I joined the challenge and read three books about three very different cultures. In the process, I experienced new ideas and perspectives that I had never thought of before.
The first, Go by Kazuki Kaneshiro, is about a young Japanese man of Korean descent who falls in love with a Japanese girl, but doesn’t at first tell her of his national origins.
This leads to conflict since, even though some Korean families have lived in Japan for generations, they are still not accepted as fully Japanese. They face discrimination in jobs, education and social interaction. Many Japanese families do not want their children marrying anyone with Korean blood no matter how many generations the Korean family has been in Japan.
The second book, This Life or the Next by Demian Vitanza, is about a Norwegian Muslim who goes to Syria in order to help in the struggle against Syrian President Basshar Assad. He ends up getting wounded in the conflict while working with an ambulance that helps evacuate the injured. After returning to Norway, he is imprisoned as a radical due to the Norwegian government’s misunderstanding of the complexity of the situation.
The last book I read is titled Never Stop Walking by Christina Rickardsson. It is a story that chronicles the life of a Brazilian girl who is adopted at age 7 by a Swedish family. After growing up in Sweden and forgetting her Portuguese, she returns at age 30 to Brazil to find her birth family.
The book includes flashbacks to her childhood memories of the intense struggle to survive the poverty and homelessness of the streets of Sao Paolo juxtaposed with her upbringing in materially wealthy Sweden as she tries to reconcile her two selves.
All three of these books opened my mind to different points of view, different problems I didn’t know people were having in the world, and different cultural ways of doing things that go against the way I was raised.
While sitting in my home in Monterey, California, I traveled in my mind to Japan, Syria, Brazil and Scandinavia. By reading stories about people and cultures from around the world to our children, we can open their minds to different ideas and people from around the world.
Of course, nothing can beat going to another country where you make friends, learn the language and experience the culture. Yet, ushering our kids into other worlds through the power of books prepares them for overseas experiences.
Children need regular input to imbue them with the curiosity and openness to other cultures that they will need as global citizens of the future. So, even if you didn’t participate in the #ReadAroundtheWorld Challenge (or if you did), make it a practice to expose your kids to cross-cultural books to help them better understand this great big, diverse world we live in.