10 Multicultural Children’s Books to Download Free Now

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Photo by alphalight1--890049
Mother with child on lap working on a laptop. Caucasian
Working from home with children – it’s tough. Photo by alphalight1

Social isolation with small children. It’s rough. You try to write emails while balancing a sticky, needy child on your lap. You toggle between mute and unmute during a work teleconference while your children shout, cry, laugh or (fill in the blank) in the background.  

I get it. 

As a single mom, I raised seven children while working full time, and it is TOUGH. When they are bored, and you have an urgent deadline, and you are sharing the same space – it is tough. I totally get it.

And money is tight right now, too. No one knows when the economy is going to bounce back. Parents need quality activities that don’t bust the pocketbook.

If that isn’t enough, to top off the stress, everyone is a homeschooler now. You need books that are entertaining and educational. And, of course, the libraries are closed, and store access is minimal.

Yes, I get it.

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio  
Grandmother homeschooling girl at a table. Caucasian
Homeschooling is an unexpected challenge many caregivers are taking on. Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Parents and caregivers need ideas for their children today.

Hopefully, I can do some leg work for you. I am a kid-lit fanatic, especially multicultural children’s books. Because my kids came home to me through birth and international adoption, they come from diverse heritages: Ethiopian, Mexican, and European. Our diversity drove me to identify the best multicultural children’s books available. 

Also, some of my seven children had years of homeschooling interspersed with traditional schools. I know firsthand it is scary to embark on a homeschool journey when you plan it, let alone when it’s dropped on you with no warning and on top of everything else going on in the world.

Make homeschooling fun and relevant

On the bright side, though, the beauty of homeschooling is you get to make it relevant and exciting for your child. There is no better time to teach world geography to small children. After all, around the world, everyone is struggling through this COVID-19 pandemic together. 

Teaching at home can be so much more than replicating traditional school – forget the worksheets and lessons. Leave those for teachers responsible for educating larger groups. 

One of the best ways to explore the world is through literature. Read aloud a good book set in a different country or culture. Discuss the story while you read and plan related follow-up activities that your child and you both enjoy. Find recipes, music, or art from the country or region the book is set in. Look up native clothing and housing.  

Photo by nappy.  Father reading a multicultural children's book to his baby.  African American
Read aloud to your child from Day 1 – demonstrate a love for literature. Photo by nappy

As an example, Global Table Adventure  http://globaltableadventure.com/  is a kid-friendly web site where you can explore food from every single country in the world. The recipes are easy to prepare at home, and the write-up for each country is just right. Many of the recipes Sasha Martin shares have made it into our regular rotation. She is one of my on-line heroes. 

Photo by severyanka--246764. Parent and child cooking together. Caucasian.
Translate your global literature into global cuisine – cook with your children. Photo by severyanka

Where to start?

Because I know you’re busy and probably overwhelmed, I looked through my stash of kid-lit for books passing our family test for QUALITY. They are also DOWNLOADABLE and are available for FREE.   

My complete list of multicultural books is pretty darn long. So I perused it for books immediately accessible via a tablet or computer. Books that, because of some good deals and trial offers, you can access free for the next 1 or 2 months, hopefully getting you through the home lock-down period.  

First, Kindle Unlimited has a 2-month free trial deal ongoing. Seven of the ten books I list are available through Kindle Unlimited.  

Second, Freetime Unlimited is a subscription TV app with an ongoing 30-Day free trial offer. Three of the books on my list are available through this app.

You’ve got this – I know you do.

I am seeing beautiful visions outside my window. Parents and children are outside playing with sidewalk chalk. Entire families are taking walks together. No play-dates, no organized activities, no distractions. In some ways, this is a renaissance for family togetherness.  

Photo by NadineDoerle--1421566
Litte boy reading a multicultural children's book on a tablet. Latinx
Tablets are great for reading picture books. Photo by Nadine Doerle

Multicultural Children’s Books for Kindle Unlimited

1. Where is My Pencil – Ethiopia

This is one of many early readers set in Ethiopia and available on Kindle Unlimited. We can thank Open Hearts, Big Dreams for making these dual language books available. Their mission is to promote literacy and provide books and libraries in Ethiopia. We benefit because they have published a bucketful of wonderful children’s books through the Ready Set Go Books program. This is one of my favorites in the collection. A girl looks for her lost pencil in the busy, bustling Merkato in Addis Ababa.

2. Trouble – Ethiopia

Trouble, by Jane Kurtz, my number one favorite children’s book authors, is a wonderful story of a boy goat herder who, well, gets in trouble.

3. Love and Roast Chicken – South America

Love and Roast Chicken is a trickster folk tale from the Andes Mountains. A guinea pig named Cuy goes head to head with a crafty fox out to eat him.

4. D is for Down Under – Australia

This is a beautifully illustrated alphabet book from Australia.

5. T is for Taj Mahal – India

And because you can never have too many alphabet books, here is another one from India.

6. Finders Keepers?: A Bus Trip In India

Finders Keepers uses a bus trip to introduce children to the culture and customs of India.

7. Am I Small? – Iran

A lovely story with animals and a surprise ending.

Multicultural Children’s Books Through Freetime Unlimited

The Dancing Turtle – Brazil

A turtles love for dancing and music puts her up against a hunter who wants to make her into turtle soup. But the turtle uses her wit to prevail.

Princess and the Warrior – Mexico

The retelling, by award-winning author Duncan Tonatiuh, of a classic Mexican folk tale.

Maggie’s Chopsticks – China

Learning to use chopsticks is an opportunity to learn a bigger life lesson.

Photo by cottonbro
Girl reading a multicultural children's book. Asian

And one companion book worth buying

There is one book, also available to download with the Kindle App, that is worth the $7.99 purchase price. Children Just Like Me is a classic DK book, beautifully illustrated and a wonderful companion for your global kid lit collection.

And if your family has a special needs child

The COVID-19 pandemic is especially stressful for families with special needs children, particularly if they are medically vulnerable. Siblings of a child with disabilities may, at high-risk times like this, be particularly prone to difficult and hard to process feelings such as anxiety. I strongly recommend this book written just for special needs siblings – and good news, it is also available free on Kindle Unlimited.

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