30 Children's Books About Traditional culture

Updated Jan. 19, 2019
Bringing in the New Year book
#1
Bringing in the New Year
Written and illustrated by Grace Lin
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

A Chinese American family prepares for and celebrates the Lunar New Year, in a book that includes endnotes discussing the customs and traditions of the Chinese New Year.

Popo's Lucky Chinese New Year book
#2
Popo's Lucky Chinese New Year
Written by Virginia Loh-Hagan and illustrated by Renne Benoit
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

When her Chinese grandmother comes to visit, a young Chinese-American girl learns of and participates in the customs and beliefs celebrating an authentic Chinese New Year.

Together for Kwanzaa book
#3
Together for Kwanzaa
Written by Juwanda G. Ford and illustrated by Shelly Hehenberger
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Kwanzaa is Kayla’s favorite time of year. But this year, it looks as if a heavy snowstorm will keep her big brother, Khari, from getting home in time for the festivities! Will Khari miss the celebration completely? Or will Kayla and her brother somehow find a way to be together for Kwanzaa? A perfect introduction to Kwanzaa, this book will teach children all about the traditions and practices that make it a special winter holiday.

My First Thanksgiving book
#4
My First Thanksgiving
Written and illustrated by Tomie dePaola
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Tomie dePaola’s simple text and bright illustrations perfectly capture the joy of this special holiday. Young readers will love learning more about the traditional celebrations of the day.

The Show-Off Monkey and Other Taoist Tales book
#5
The Show-Off Monkey and Other Taoist Tales
Written and illustrated by Mark W. McGinnis
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

A picture book of Taoist wisdom tales inspired by the ancient philosopher Chang Tzu, for children ages 5-10, beautifully illustrated with original artwork. “If we are true to who we are, we will naturally find what is right.” “Beauty is in the eyes and mind of the beholder.” “What is good in life is not always obvious.” These morals are inspired by the teachings Taoist philosopher Chuang Tzu (fourth century b.c.e.), who through charming and sometimes cryptic fables explained to his students the qualities of humility, modesty, simplicity, acceptance, and contentment. In “The Sea Turtle and the Frog,” two creatures share their unique perspective on the world. “The Happy Fish” offers a reflection on what makes for a good leader. And “The White Peacock” demonstrates the virtues of a simple life rather than one adorned with material riches. Beautifully illustrated in the traditional Asian style by artist Mark McGinnis, this book collects thirty-three of these traditional Taoist wisdom tales that will teach readers young and old about the Taoist view of living in harmony with the natural world.

Monkey's Clever Tale book
#6
Monkey's Clever Tale
Written by Andrew Fusek Peters and illustrated by Amanda Montgomery-Higham
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

The mischievous Ameerah Monkey promises Crocodile her tail and those of her parents, brothers, and sisters in exchange for a ride across the river in this version of a Jataka tale from India.

Neekna and Chemai book
#7
Neekna and Chemai
Written by Jeannette Armstrong and illustrated by Barbara Marchand
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Neekna and Chemai are two little girls growing up in the Okanagan Valley in the time before European contact. Through these two friends, we learn about the seasonal life patterns of the Okanagan First Peoples. The girls spend time with Great-Grandmother, who tells them about important ceremonies, and they gather plants with Neekna's grandmother. Grandmother explains how bitterroot came to be an important food source, and why the people give a special ceremony of thanks at its harvest. Grandmother also tells the story of how a woman was changed to a rock to watch over the Okanagan Valley. Neekna understands how important it is that she has received the knowledge passed down for generations, from great-grandmother to grandmother to mother.

Light the Menorah book
#8
Light the Menorah
Written and illustrated by Jannie Ho
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Light the menorah and celebrate eight days of fun with this interactive book! It?s time to celebrate Hanukkah! From learning the story of the Macabees to making potato latkes and playing dreidel, kids will love reading along with this fun book. A pull-tab on each page allows children to "light" the candles of the menorah.

Día de los Muertos book
#9
Día de los Muertos
Written by Hannah Eliot and illustrated by Jorge R. Gutierrez
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

At the end of October each year, it’s time to celebrate an ancient tradition: Dia de los Muertos! With vibrant illustrations by Golden Globe–winning Mexican illustrator Jorge Gutierrez, this festive board book teaches that Dia de los Muertos honors ancestors and loved ones who have passed. From sugar skulls to papel picado, this is a holiday that truly commemorates the cycle of life.

Everyday Town book
#10
Everyday Town
Written and illustrated by Cynthia Rylant
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

By award-winning author-illustrator Cynthia Rylant, Everyday Town is a sweet story about the people and places that make up a town. The Everyday Town has a little red school, a fruit shop, a mailman, and a train. It has two yellow bikes and one green car, and its mayor likes to fly in a plane.

Everyday House book
#11
Everyday House
Written and illustrated by Cynthia Rylant
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

By award-winning author-illustrator Cynthia Rylant, Everyday House is a charming story about all of the things that make a house and fill up a home. The Everyday House has a blue front door and a porch with a wide white swing. It has red and pink flowers and a small birdhouse and a bell with a ding-dong ring. From award-winning author-illustrator Cynthia Rylant comes a charming story about all the special touches that make this Everyday House a home.

I'm an Immigrant Too! book
#12
I'm an Immigrant Too!
Written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Ronojoy Ghosh
picture book
Recommend Ages: 0-8

From beloved Australian author Mem Fox comes a timely picture book about how all of our lives are enriched by the vibrant cultural diversity immigrants bring to their new communities. What journeys we have travelled, from countries near and far! Together now, we live in peace, beneath the Southern Star. Inspired by the plight of immigrants around the world, Mem Fox was moved to write this lyrical and rhyming exploration of the myriad ways immigrants have enriched her home country of Australia. Young readers everywhere will see themselves—and their friends and neighbors—in this powerful and moving picture book.

The Dalai Lama book
#13
The Dalai Lama
Written and illustrated by Demi
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-10

By award-winning picture book author Demi, this is a fully illustrated nonfiction picture book that tells the story of the search for the fourteenth Dalai Lama. Now in paperback for the first time, with a foreword written by The Dalai Lama himself. When the thirteenth Dalai Lama died in 1933, the highest holy men in Tibet searched throughout the land for his successor. They were spiritually guided to the humble dwelling of a loving family high in the Himalayas. When the search party greeted the youngest son, the child told them, "Now I am going home!" At last the fourteenth Dalai Lama had been found, and at the age of two, the young boy was taken to the capital city, Lhasa, where he began his training to become the spiritual leader of Tibet. The work of the Dalai Lama and the fate of Tibet are topics of evergrowing international focus. In simple language and glorious art, Demi pays tribute to the fourteenth Dalai Lama's remarkable life. She captures the beauty of Tibetan culture, as well as the charm, talent, and vision of one of the world's best-known spiritual figures.

Diwali book
#14
Diwali
Written by Hannah Eliot and illustrated by Archana Sreenivasan
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

Learn all about the traditions of Diwali with this third book in the delightful board book series Celebrate the World, which highlights special occasions and holidays across the globe. Each autumn we gather with our friends and family and light our brightest lanterns. It’s time for Diwali, the festival of lights! In this lovely board book with illustrations from Archana Sreenivasan, readers learn that the five days of Diwali are a time to pray for a bountiful season, celebrate the special bonds between siblings, and rejoice in the victory of light over darkness and good over evil.

Shanté Keys and the New Year's Peas book
#15
Shanté Keys and the New Year's Peas
Written by Gail Piernas-Davenport and illustrated by Marion Eldridge
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

When Shante´ is sent to find black-eyed peas for her family's New Year's celebration, she learns about each of her neighbor's New Year's traditions in their home countries.

Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns book
#16
Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns
Written by Hena Khan and illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Magnificently capturing the colorful world of Islam for the youngest readers, this breathtaking and informative picture book celebrates Islam s beauty and traditions. From a red prayer rug to a blue hijab, everyday colors are given special meaning as young readers learn about clothing, food, and other important elements of Islamic culture, with a young Muslim girl as a guide. Sure to inspire questions and observations about world religions and cultures, Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns is equally at home in a classroom reading circle as it is being read to a child on a parent s lap.

Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets book
#17
Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets
Written by Hena Khan and illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

From a crescent moon to a square garden to an octagonal fountain, this breathtaking picture book celebrates the shapes—and traditions—of the Muslim world. Sure to inspire questions and observations about world religions and cultures, Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets is equally at home in a classroom reading circle and on a parent's lap being read to a child.

Love You More Than Anything book
#18
Love You More Than Anything
Written and illustrated by Doretta Groenendyk
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Colorful picture book about the many kinds of love between people. This book crosses cultures and generations, social change and tradition. It exudes warmth and playfulness, sharing whimsical images and sweet memories. Each colorful page depicts a different couple enjoying their time together: two grandparents, two teenagers, a girl and her granny, a boy and a girl, two men, young girlfriends, a child and parent. Love can happen between anyone of any race, religion or size, anywhere. Love You More Than Anything is a simple, beautiful celebration of love in all its forms.

One Last Wish book
#19
One Last Wish
Written by Suzanne I. Barchers and illustrated by Sue Todd
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

A princess marries a man she loves in spite of his impending death. Due to her devotion and persistence, she is granted a wish, which she uses wisely. Themes: love, devotion, bravery.

Gandhi book
#20
Gandhi
Written by Alice B. McGinty and illustrated by Thomas Gonzales
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

Mohandas Gandhi’s 24-day March to the Sea, from March 12 to April 5, 1930, was a pivotal moment in India’s quest to become an independent country no longer ruled by Great Britain. With over 70 marchers, Gandhi walked from his hometown near Ahmedabab to the sea coast by the village of Dandi. The march was a non-violent means to protest the taxes that Great Britain had imposed on salt -- not the salt that the Indians could get from the sea, but the salt that Great Britain forced them to buy. Gandhi believed that peaceful protests were an effective way to challenge British law, and his peaceful but ultimately successful movement became known as Satyagraha.

The Thundermaker book
#21
The Thundermaker
Written by Alan Syliboy and illustrated by Lindsay R Marshall
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

The Thundermaker is based on Mi’kmaw artist Alan Syliboy’s spectacular mixed-media exhibit of the same name. In the book, Big Thunder teaches his son, Little Thunder, about the important responsibility he has in making thunder for his people. Little Thunder learns about his Mi’kmaw identity through his father’s teachings and his mother’s traditional stories. Syliboy’s spectacular, vibrant artwork brings the story of Little Thunder to vivid life.

What Do You Celebrate? book
#22
What Do You Celebrate?
Written by Whitney Stewart and illustrated by Christiane Engel
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

Discover a world of celebrations! This entertaining book introduces kids to 14 holidays, from Brazilian carnival, Chinese New Year, Bastille Day, and the Cherry Blossom Festival to Purim, Holi, Eid al-Fitr, Day of the Dead, and Halloween. As in the popular What's On Your Plate?, each spread showcases a different holiday, offering background, cultural context, vocabulary words, photographs, and instructions for festive projects.

The Gathering book
#23
The Gathering
Written by Theresa Meuse and illustrated by Art Stevens
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Alex is attending her first Mi’kmaw spiritual gathering, or mawiomi. Though she is timid at first, older cousin Matthew takes her under his wing. Meeting Elders along the way, they learn many things about traditional Mi’kmaw culture: the sacred fire, drumming, tanning and moccasin decorating, and basket and canoe making. Most important, Alex finds her voice in the talking circle. With contemporary illustrations by bestselling illustrator Arthur Stevens, The Gathering is an inclusive story that will educate and entertain Indigenous and non-Indigenous readers alike.

The Gift of Ramadan book
#24
The Gift of Ramadan
Written by Rabiah York Lumbard and illustrated by Laura K. Horton
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Sophia wants to fast for Ramadan this year. She tries to keep busy throughout the day so she won't think about food. But when the smell of cookies is too much, she breaks her fast early. How can she be part of the festivities now?

Baby's First Chinese New Year book
#25
Baby's First Chinese New Year
Written and illustrated by Dorling Kindersley Publishing
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-2

Celebrate Chinese New Year with this delightful baby board book that little ones will adore. The bright and colorful images in this book are the perfect way to discover the new year holiday traditions together. From colorful lanterns, to beautiful traditional clothes, to special animals that each year is named after, Baby's First Chinese New Year features all the familiar favorites associated with Asia's biggest and brightest celebration. An ideal baby gift to develop early learning, the simple pictures and sentences promote language skills, and the small, padded format is perfect for babies to hold. Babies and toddlers will enjoy turning the pages by themselves, which helps to foster early reading development as well as fine motor skills. Learn all about the amazing new year holiday with your little one! Baby's First Chinese New Year perfectly captures the joy of this special celebration and is an ideal preschool learning introduction to the traditions of the festival.

Have a suggestion for a book to add to this list? Send an email to [email protected]!