Compiled by World Family Education
Books are a great way to open up your child’s imagination to what life will be like in another culture and what it means to be a cross-cultural kid. Included in this list are some nonfiction options and a variety of books with stories about moving, adjusting to a new culture, loss, grief, building self-confidence, and more. All books are in English, unless noted otherwise.
You can also explore other helpful pages at World Family Education:
Nonfiction for Kids & Teens
By Jeanne Harrison.
Written specifically to Christian missionary teens, Hiding in the Hallways offers MKs a biblical context for their faith in light of their unique circumstances, challenges, and opportunities. Filled with personal anecdotes, former MK Jeanne Harrison champions gospel relevancy and the need for MKs to continue to filter their lives through a biblical worldview. Covering seven main areas relevant to the missionary teen life both on and off the missions field, this book also includes a chapter for parents to help foster discussion with their teens.
By Naomi Shihab Nye.
A collection of essays by Naomi Shihab Nye where she travels the world at an observant pace, talking to strangers and introducing readers to an endearing assemblage of great-great-aunts, eccentric neighbors, Filipina faith healers, dry-cleaning proprietors, hitchhikers, and other quirky characters, some of whom she met just once.
By Lori Attanasio Woodring, Ph.D.
This one-of-a-kind workbook walks kids ages 5–11 step by step through the entire moving process, including understanding change, strategies for managing emotions, ways to say goodbye, taking part in a new adventure, tips for making new friends, and more.
By Leah Moorefield Evans.
Moving to a new home with a preschool or elementary child? Collect memories, process the move, and celebrate the future with activities, ideas, and games in this workbook.
By Aniket and Akash Shah.
A comprehensive guidebook for any young adult or family moving overseas. Written by two former expatriate teenagers, this book is the culmination of experiences of students all around the world and of broad consultations with dozens of experts in the field of international relocation.
Illustrated by Aleksandra Mizielinski & Daniel Mizielinski.
Explore the world with this lavish book of maps. This collection of 52 highly illustrated maps details not only geographical features and political borders, but also places of interest, iconic personalities, native animals and plants, local peoples, cultural events, and many more fascinating facts associated with each region.
By Aleksandra Mizielinski and Daniel Mizielinski.
Companion to “Maps.” Bursting with fascinating facts and puzzles from around the world, this book offers hours of entertainment to young adventurers. Informative and inspiring, the myriad activities in this book challenge the reader to discover something new and explore their imagination to draw, decorate and design on every pull-out page.
Fiction for Younger Kids
By Soyung Pak.
Juno's grandmother writes in Korean and Juno writes in drawings, but that doesn't mean they can't exchange letters. From the photo his grandmother sends him, Juno can tell that she has a new cat. From the picture he makes for her, Juno's grandmother can tell that he wants her to come for a visit. So she sends Juno a miniature plane, to let him know she's on the way. This tender tale won the author an Ezra Jack Keats award, and is a perfect introduction to the concept of foreign cultures and far-off lands.
By Stacey Schuett.
"Somewhere in the World Right Now" explains to children the complexities of time zones, countries, and continents through terrific verse and paintings, as well as using a simplistic and fun process to describe all the different things that could be happening around the world at any moment. This story teaches children to be more conscientious about other people, in other places, who may all be doing different things, but are united in the fact that everyone is always doing something.
By Oliver Jeffers.
Once there was a girl whose life was filled with wonder at the world around her...
Then one day something happened that made the girl take her heart and put it in a safe place. However, after that it seemed that the world was emptier than before. But would she know how to get her heart back?
By Nancy Tupper Ling.
For their move far away, Gracie and Jake are sad to leave But they fill empty boxes with treasures —
a marble, a snake,
a pair of wings.
Tiny reminders of all they love —
so happiness stays close,
no matter where they go.
With grace and warmth, this lyrical picture book speaks to the difficulty of transition, and celebrates the ways in which love and family give us the strength to weather life's changes.
By Helen Maffini.
Sammy's Next Move is a wonderful story about a snail named Sammy who lives around the world with his parents. He is a "third culture kid," TCK, or global nomad. He often moves to new countries and has to change schools and make new friends.
By Valerie Besanceney.
Emma is only ten years old but has already moved twice. Now her parents are telling her the family is moving again. She's furious, sad, nervous, and a little excited, all at the same time.
By Valerie Besanceney.
“My Moving Booklet” is designed to help children through the initial stages of an upcoming move. Moving usually means going through quite a roller coaster of feelings. It can be exciting and terrifying at the same time. It can be very sad to say goodbye, but it can also be incredibly fun to experience new things and meet new people. Everybody experiences a move differently.
*Also in French.
By Maryam Afnan Ahmad, Ulrike Gemmer, Cherie Emigh, Barbara Menezes, Kathryn Tonges, Lucinda Willshire.
A collection of 23 real life stories from third culture kids. Each story is followed by a related activity suitable for 3 to 12 year olds and include brainstorming, problem solving, party planning, family tree, quirky word games, etc.
By Catalina Del Rio Faes.
Flup is a happy, young alien living with his family on Xtron when one day he gets some surprising news. His parents have new jobs on a planet millions of miles away, a scary place called Earth. How will Flup manage without his best friend? Will humans be as strange as he thinks? Join Flup as he discovers life on Earth isn't quite what he expected...
By Sara Saunders.
Lila isn't just like her yellow friends or her blue cousins, so she feels as though she doesn't fit in anywhere. But when she meets another swirly kid and his swirly mom, she finds out that she does belong somewhere. . . with a very special swirly Someone. (Christian genre)
By Cori Doerrfeld.
With its spare, poignant text and irresistibly sweet illustrations, The Rabbit Listened is a tender meditation on loss. When something terrible happens, Taylor doesn't know where to turn. All the animals are sure they have the answer. The chicken wants to talk it out, but Taylor doesn't feel like chatting. The bear thinks Taylor should get angry, but that's not quite right either. One by one, the animals try to tell Taylor how to process this loss, and one by one they fail. Then the rabbit arrives. All the rabbit does is listen, which is just what Taylor needs.
By Monica Brown.
Marisol McDonald has flaming red hair and nut-brown skin. Polka dots and stripes are her favorite combination. She prefers peanut butter and jelly burritos in her lunch box. And don’t even think of asking her to choose one or the other activity at recess—she’ll just be a soccer playing pirate princess, thank you very much. To Marisol McDonald, these seemingly mismatched things make perfect sense together. Unfortunately, they don’t always make sense to everyone else.
*Also in Spanish.
By Rosemary Wells.
Yoko is so excited for the first day of school. She's just learned to write her name. But when Mrs. Jenkins asks Yoko to show everyone, Olive and Sylvia make fun of her Japanese writing. "Yoko can't write. She's only scribbling!" The teasing continues as Yoko shares her favorite book at show and tell, and reads it back to front.
By Matthew Swanson.
Readers are taken on a stunning journey into the imagination of a young boy--who explores everything from the pyramids of Egypt to a dusty footprint on the moon--and then back out again to the wonderful world right in front of him. From a lost balloon to an endless road, there are stories to discover, to dream about, and to share.
By Yangsook Choi.
The new kid in school needs a new name! Or does she? Being the new kid in school is hard enough, but what about when nobody can pronounce your name? Having just moved from Korea, Unhei is anxious that American kids will like her. So instead of introducing herself on the first day of school, she tells the class that she will choose a name by the following week.
By Eve Bunting.
Farah feels alone, even when surrounded by her classmates. She listens and nods but doesn’t speak. It’s hard being the new kid in school, especially when you’re from another country and don’t know the language. Then, on a field trip to an apple orchard, Farah discovers there are lots of things that sound the same as they did at home, from dogs crunching their food to the ripple of friendly laughter. As she helps the class make apple cider, Farah connects with the other students and begins to feel that she belongs.
By Allen Say.
Through compelling reminiscences of his grandfather's life in America and Japan, Allen Say gives us a poignant account of a family's unique cross-cultural experience. He warmly conveys his own love for his two countries, and the strong and constant desire to be in both places at once.
By Allen Say.
At home in San Francisco, May speaks Japanese and the family eats rice and miso soup and drinks green tea. When she visits her friends' homes, she eats fried chicken and spaghetti. May plans someday to go to college and live in an apartment of her own. But when her family moves back to Japan, she soon feels lost and homesick for America. In Japan everyone calls her by her Japanese name, Masako. She has to wear kimonos and sit on the floor. Poor May is sure that she will never feel at home in this country.
By Allen Say.
Yuriko hates her name when the children make fun of it and call her "Eureka!" Though she is half Japanese, the teasing makes her want to hide, to retreat even from the art projects she used to love. Fortunately she has a patient, kind father who finds gentle ways of drawing her out and reminding Yuriko of the traditions they share that have always brought her joy: walks in lovely Golden Gate Park, lunch at their favorite sushi restaurant, watching the fog blow in off the bay. It's enough... it's more than enough to face down her challenges with confidence.
By Ellen Levine and Steve Bjorkman.
When her family moves to New York from Hong Kong, Mei Mei finds it difficult to learn the alien sounds of English.
By Simone T Costa Eriksson and Ana Serra.
Mike is unsettled. He knows that something odd is happening at home because his parents are whispering all the time. But, being a detective, Mike is quickly on the case. He enlists his friend Ikem to help him get to the bottom of the mystery. Mike and his family are moving to another country, making him confused and fearful.
By Irena Kobald.
Cartwheel moves to a new country with her auntie, and everything is strange: the animals, the plants — even the wind. An old blanket gives Cartwheel comfort when she's sad—and a new blanket just might change her world.
By Cheryl Foggo.
Maiko has left his village in Tanzania far behind, moving to Canada with his aunt and uncle. When he thinks of home, he thinks of the beautiful big baobab tree at the center of the village.
Fiction for Older Kids & Teens
By Deb Brammer.
While his mother recuperates from an accident that has left her partially paralyzed, Josh leaves Denver and goes to stay at his Uncle Hamish's New Zealand sheep farm, where his faith in God is strengthened as he faces new challenges.
By Jean Fritz.
This heartwarming fictionalized autobiography tells the story of what it is like for a little girl to be growing up in an unfamiliar place. While other girls her age were enjoying childhood in America, Jean Fritz was in China in the midst of political unrest. For ages 12 and up.
By Marjane Satrapi.
A graphic memoir of a girl growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages 6 to 14, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. She later went to school in Austria and now lives in France.
*Also in French.
By Heidi Sand-Hart. Follows Heidi and her missionary family on their many moves through the eyes of a third culture kid and the unique phenomena of having four very different home countries to relate to. It tells the true story of being catapulted from continent to continent constantly: leaving friends and starting all over again, her unquenchable search for a “home” and sense of belonging in this world, her desire for a life-partner with the odds all but against her due to constantly relocating (even into adulthood).
By Naomi Shihab Nye. The day after Liyana got her first real kiss, her life changed forever. Not because of the kiss, but because it was the day her father announced that the family was moving from St. Louis all the way to Palestine. Though her father grew up there, Liyana knows very little about her family's Arab heritage.
by Naomi Shihab Nye. Aref does not want to leave Oman. He does not want to leave his elementary school, his friends, or his beloved grandfather, Sidi. He does not want to live in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where his parents will go to graduate school. His mother is desperate for him to pack his suitcase-but he refuses.
By Naomi Shihab Nye. Collection of poetry about loss. What have you lost? A friend? A brother? A wallet? A memory? A meaning? A year?
by Leanne Hardy.
The sound of her brother's scream echoed on and on in her head as though it would never end. "Let me go!" she demanded stupidly in English. The African boy dug his nails into Keri's arm and brought the knife closer to her face. Civil war is tearing apart Mozambique, Africa. And whether she realizes it or not the war is about to become very real to Keri Anderson.
By An Na
From master storyteller An Na comes the Printz Award–winning novel about a Korean girl who tells her firsthand account of trying to find her place and identity in America from the day she leaves Korea as a child to her rocky journey through the teenage years.