We read a lot of children’s books in our house. Some of the books we read to our kids really resonate with us and life overseas.
God Gave Us the World by Lisa Tawn Bergren is a sweet story that simply shows life in other places is different. A polar bear cub is at a museum with her mom and finds how bears in other places of the world live differently than she does. It’s a simple way of showing how life is not wrong in other places, it’s just different. Like how we don’t drive on the wrong side of the road, we just drive on a different side of the road than in some places in the world. It’s not wrong to use metric measurements, it’s just different than using standard. It’s not wrong to eat “fish with a face” (shrimp with the shells still on), it’s just different. It’s not wrong to eat banana leaf meals with our hands, it’s just different.
Where is Home, Little Pip? by Karma Wilson. Karma Wilson’s books are popular with our whole family. In this one a young penguin gets separated from her parents and asks other animals where home to see if she can find her way back. Each one has a different answer for where home is for them. Eventually she reunites with her parents and they say home is where they are all together. The concept of “home” is a tricky one for those of us who live overseas, especially kids. Home is a place that’s different for everyone. Asking our family where home is will result in different answers from each of us and could change from day-to-day.
Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say. This book was part of Samuel’s school curriculum this year. The book is beautifully illustrated and tells the story of the author’s Japanese grandfather who immigrated to the United States. It poignantly explains the paradox of wanting to be in more than one place at a time and how more than one place can feel like home. We certainly relate to feeling like we have multiple places that are “home.” Our three youngest kids would probably all say that Asia is home, but Samuel still says America is home at times and the adults in our house say where we are in Asia is home and that places in America are home. We have bouts of homesickness for the US and know that when we’re in the US we’ll have bouts of homesickness for Asia. The desire to be in our true home in heaven has become much stronger as we’ve lived here.
Hello, Red Fox by Eric Carle. This book is really cool. Eric Carle wrote and illustrated the book to reflect Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s color theory. If you stare at something long enough, then shift your eyes to a white wall/piece of paper/etc. you’ll see the same shape in the inverse color. So the book is designed such that you stare at the illustrations for 10 seconds or so, then shift your eyes to the opposing white page to see it in a different color. I find it relaxing to read the book if I’m not reading it to the boys when they want to hurry through it. As we have adjusted to life in a different culture we’ve had to shift our thinking, behavior, and lifestyle. We stared at our old life long enough, then shifted our eyes to our new life to see something sort of familiar and similar, but also sort of the opposite. And we have learned we sometimes have to really study and look at the various cultures we encounter to see them for what they truly are.