There are a few upper elementary/middle school books I am adding to my lists for countries we have already visited using books. Working with primarily 4th graders this year, I am now also looking to diversify my classroom library.
Australia – Bindi by Aboriginal Australian writer Kirli Saunders and Aboriginal Australian illustrator Dub Leffler, published by Magabala Books, is an award-winning sparsely illustrated novel in verse about an 11 year old named Bindi Hoskins who lives in Australia. We see her combat life’s hardships during her year such as a broken wrist, large school assignments, and most devastating of all, a bush fire. I wish this book had been on my radar when we read books from Australia – I would have made it my adult read. I am seriously enjoying it! Notes for teaching the book are available on Magabala Books website.
Argentina – The Big Wet Balloon, by Argentinian Ricardo Liniers Siri, published by Toon Books, in imprint of Candlewick Press, is a graphic novel which is part of a leveled reading series from Toon Books. The Big Wet Balloon is the seriously delightful story of a big sister who promises her little sister an exciting Saturday, and how they turn a rainy day into a fun day. Any child can relate to having their plans thwarted by the weather. I will absolutely be looking more into these leveled graphic novels for classroom use because they are written at a lower level, but look appropriate for older students.
Denmark – Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, is one of my favorite books, by one of my favorite middle grade authors. It won the Newbery Medal in 1990. I used to teach this to 4th graders when the curriculum included the Holocaust. I can’t believe I forgot to include it when we read books from Denmark. Number the Stars is about a family in Denmark who takes in the young protagonist’s Jewish best friend, Ellen, to hide her from the Nazis during 1943. The story chronicles both girls’ bravery as they help Ellen, and other Danish Jews escape across the sea to Sweden.
You can see the whole list for each of these countries on the Picture Book List page. You can also go to my Bookshop Shop. Let me know if you know of any other books for these countries that should be added to my lists!