Friday, 19 September 2014

Sonlight Core E with younger children

Here are a heap of books for younger readers (approx. 6-8 years) that help explore the people, places and cultures of the non-Western world.  We are using them in conjuction with the Sonlight Core E* which is aimed at 10-13 year olds because I didn't want to do a separate core with my younger child.

Whether or not you home-school, whether or not you use Sonlight, these books are a great introduction to the Eastern Hemisphere, though they barely scratch the surface.  Some are fiction, some non-fiction.  I hope you enjoy them as much as we have!



Colours of China by Shannon Zemlicka, illustrated by Janice Lee Porta, from the Colours of the World series (Lerner Publishing).  This series uses colours as a prompt to explore aspects of life and culture in a particular country.  This one about China covers topics such as agriculture, government, crafts and different people groups.  It includes the Chinese character for each colour, together with an pronunciation guide.  There is also a basic but clear map on the first page.
Celebrating the Chinese New Year by Sanmu Tang (Better Link Press).  Little Mei learns about the traditions her family follows for Chinese new year.  Very simple.
The Emperor and the Kite by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Ed Young (Paperstar).  As we'd been learning about the rise and fall of different dynasties in China, along came this story of an Emperor who would have been disposed but for the fidelity of his youngest child.  Also featuring a kite, a pagoda and a Buddhist monk, it dove-tailed well with what we'd been learning about dynastic China.

At the Beach by Huy Voun Lee (Square Fish).  Xiao Ming learns to write ten Chinese characters while enjoying a day at the beach.  His mother is a great teacher and makes it look very easy!  The book includes a guide to the pronunciation of the words in Mandarin.
The Firekeeper's Son by Linda Sue Park and illustrated by Julie Downing (Sandpiper).  A beautifully illustrated tale set in Korea in the early 1800s.  Sang-hee's father, the fire-keeper, must light the fire each night to start the message that travels one mountain-top at a time all the way to the King's Palace.  One evening, Sang-hee's father falls and Sang-hee must take his place.
Colors of Japan by Holly Littlefield and illustrated by Helen Byers from the colours of the world series (Lerner Publishing).  Green Tea, ninjas, cherry blossoms, volcanoes and memorials to Hiroshima feature in this colours of the world book about Japan.  Again, a basic and clear map on the first page and the colours in Japanese characters.
Journey Home by Lawrence McKay, Jr., illustrated by Dom and Keunhee Lee (Lee and Low Books).  Mai's mother was left at an orphanage during the Vietnam war.  She was adopted by an American family and has lived there ever since.  Now, Mai and her mother are going back to Vietnam to see what they can find out about their  family.  A moving story which touches on themes of war and belonging.
Children of the Dragon: selected tales from Vietnam by Sherry Garland and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman.  It contains a brief introduction to (modern) Vietnamese history and culture and each folktale is followed by interesting information about the animals or customs featured in the tale.
Elephant Dance: A Journey to India by Theresa Heine and illustrated by Sheila Moxley (Barefoot Books).  Ravi and Angali ask their Grandfather about India and he captivates them with his stories.  Also included at the back is the score for the Elephant dance and easy to read information about geography, religion and culture, animals, food and spices.  (Also published as Memories of India, as in the picture.)
We all went on Safari: A counting journey through Tanzania by Laurie Krebs and illustrated by Julia Cairns (Barefoot Books).  Follow a group of Maasai as they watch and count the animals they see on safari.  Numbers in the text are in English, but are given on the page in Swahili as well.  Also included is easy to read information about the Maasai people, the Swahili names used in the book, the animals seen on safari and facts about Tanzania itself (with a map).
Mama Panya's Pancakes: A Village Tale from Kenya by Mary and Rich Chamberlin and illustrated by Julia Cairns (Barefoot Books).  Adika and his mother go to the market to buy flour.  Along the way, he invites their friends over for a meal of pancakes.  He is confident Mama Panya can stretch that little bit to a little bit more.  She is not so sure.  What happens when all the friends arrive is just lovely.  We loved the depiction of village life, which is not so very different from Vanuatu.
South Africa by Michael Dahl from the Countries of the World series (Capstone Press).  This book has simples to read and understand information about the land, people, food, animals, sports, holidays and cities of South Africa. It features colourful photographs and a (small) guide to speaking Afrikaans.
Nigeria by Kristin Thoennes from the Countries of the World series (Capstone Press).   Again, this book has simple to read and understand information about the land, people, food, animals, clothing, games and celebrations of Nigeria in West Africa. It features colourful photographs and a (small) guide to speaking Yoruban.


* Note that these books are ones I have found and bought myself; they are not on the Sonlight curriculum nor are they recommended by Sonlight in any way.


In choosing these books, I was keen to have stories told not just from a Western perspective but from the perspective of the people themselves. This is not always easy as we needed them to be in English! I was also keen for samples of different languages and to obtain them from a wide variety of countries but (of course) was limited by funds. Most of these books were around $10 and were available in paperback from Book Depository.  There are a couple that we have ordered but have not arrived yet which I will include at a late date.

If you are interested in finding more books from around the world, do a search for any of these books at goodreads and then look down the page to "Lists with this book in it" and usually one of the lists will be books from that region of the world. Or just ask at your local library!

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