CurriConnects Book List - Childhood Here and There

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Childhood Here and There

Growing up is not the same everywhere. What is "typical" for the kids at your school may seem odd or to those who grew up somewhere else. What was typical for our grandparents is not the same as what is typical today. American kids think everyone has electronics. City kids think everyone knows how to take a bus. Country kids think everyone grows up with animals or woods to play in. Some kids spend their time on "screens," while others may spend it in streams. Some kids choose their own activities while others are told what they will do. Some have hours of homework, others do not even have schools.

This collection of books shares tales of childhood in many cultures and countries. Include these books for independent reading during a unit on world cultures, in a guidance class about differences, or in a reading unit about drawing inferences. Spark discussions about what we assume is "normal" and what we should realize about our own upbringing. The conversations will easily evolve into projects where students can compare and contrast or create "profiles" of childhood in different places and cultures.

Preschool and Picture Books

The Baby's Catalogue - Allan Ahlberg, (978-0141343365) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-1, ESL level: 2
This book shows through very simple pages what the daily life of a baby is like.

Everything but the Horse: A Childhood Memory - Holly Hobbie, (978-0316070195) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-3, Lexile: 780, ESL level: 3 - 4
After Holly moves to a farm from the city, her only wish is to have a horse.

The Great Day - Taro Gomi, (978-1452111254) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-1, ESL level: 2
Although the author of this book is Japanese and it was originally published in Japan, the everyday routine of one small boy could be of that found in many cultures.

I Live in Brooklyn - Mari Takabayashi, (978-0618308996) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-3, ESL level: 2 - 3
A six-year-old girl goes through the different seasons in Brooklyn, New York, describing her daily life in each.

I Live in Tokyo - Mari Takabayashi, (978-0618494842) , Non-fiction
Interest level: 0-2, ESL level: 2 - 3
A young Japanese girl describes her life with her family growing up in Tokyo and how they celebrate special days.

Island Counting 1 2 3 - Frane Lessac, (978-0763635183) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-1, ESL level: 2
Learn to count and experience the feeling of island everyday life!

Madlenka - Peter Sis, (978-0312659127) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-2, Lexile: 110, ESL level: 2
Madlenka takes the reader on a walk around her neighborhood which includes people from so many different places, it is like a walk around the world.

My Apron - Eric Carle, (978-0399226854) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-1, Lexile: 550, ESL level: 2
A young boy receives an apron so he can help his uncle plaster in this childhood memoir.

My Hands Sing the Blues: Romare Bearden's Childhood Journey - Jeanne Walker Harvey, (978-0761458104) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-3, Lexile: 780, ESL level: 2
An artists muses over memories of his childhood while creating art that mimics the rhythms of the blues.

The Road to Goonong - David Cox, (978-1742375212) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-1, ESL level: 2
Growing up in the Australian bush includes horses, other animals, great neighbors, and a wonderful family.

Under the Baobab Tree - Julie Stiegemeyer, (978-0310725619) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-2, ESL level: 2 - 3
Moyo and his younger sister look forward to their daily visit to the baobab tree where everyone congregates to share news, products for sale, stories, and maybe something new!

When Everybody Wore a Hat - William Steig, (978-0060097004) , Non-fiction
Interest level: 0-12, Lexile: 240, ESL level: 2 - 3
Favorite children's author William Steig paints a picture of his childhood in the early 1900's in New York City.

Working Cotton - Sherley Anne Williams, (978-0780768642) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-2, Lexile: 600, ESL level: 3
Told from a child's point of view, this book creates the daily life of an African American cotton picker in California.

Early Elementary Books

Audrey of the Outback - Christine Harris, (978-1921714214) , Fiction
Interest level: 2-5, Lexile: 560, ESL level: 2 - 3
Audrey's daily life in the Australian outback is anything but dull because it includes encounters with wild animals, meeting strangers, and using her imagination.

Beatrice's Goat - Page McBrier, (978-0689824609) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-3, Lexile: 640, ESL level: 3
A young African girl's daily life includes her fulfilling her dream of going to school with the assistance of the goat given to her family by the Heifer Project International.

The Boy Who Wanted to Cook - Gloria Whelan, (978-1585365340) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-3, ESL level: 3
A young French boy wants to cook in his family restaurant but has to prove to his parents he is old enough and skilled enough to do so at his young age.

Chirchir Is Singing - Kelly Cunnane, (978-0375861987) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-3, Lexile: 760, ESL level: 3
Chirchir struggles with daily chores everyone else seems to be able to do in her life in a small African village.

Dear Primo - Duncan Tonatiuh, (978-0810938724) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-3, Lexile: 610, ESL level: 2 - 3
Two cousins discover their daily lives are quite similar despite the fact that one lives in Mexico and one lives in New York City.

Elena's Story - Nancy Shaw, (978-1585365289) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-3, ESL level: 2 - 3
Elena keeps busy in her small Guatemalan village as she helps her mother and tries to improve her reading. This book is part of the Tales of the World series.

Elephant Dance - Theresa Heine, (978-1905236794) , Fiction
Interest level: 1-2, ESL level: 3
A grandfather loves telling his family stories of his traditional life growing up in India.

Ghost Hands - T.A. Barron, (978-0399250835) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-3, Lexile: 510, ESL level: 3
When a native Patagonian Indian sets out to prove his manhood while hunting a puma, he accidentally finds an ancient guardian to a seemingly surreal cave.

The Gift of the Inuksuk - Michael Ulmer, (978-1585362141) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-3, ESL level: 3
A young Inuit girl erects stone men to help her lost father and brother find their way home.

The Herd Boy - Niki Daly, (978-0310725619) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-4, ESL level: 2 - 3
Malusi has plenty of time to daydream about his future as he herds his grandfather's sheet and goats on the grasslands.

The Hogan that Great-Grandfather Built - Nancy Bo Flood, (978-1893354975) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-1, ESL level: 2 - 3
A Navajo Indian describes his daily life growing up in a hogan hand built by his ancestor.

In Andal's House - Gloria Whelan, (978-1585366033) , Fiction
Interest level: 1-3, ESL level: 3
Kumar experiences prejudice when he first visits the home of a classmate whose family's caste is higher than his.

Ma, I'm a Farmer - Michael Martchenko, (978-1550376968) , Fiction
Interest level: 1-3, ESL level: 3
Despite the warnings of his city friends, Fred moves to a farm to find what he imagines will be an easy life.

Megan's Year: An Irish Traveler's Story - Gloria Whelan, (978-1585364497) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-4, ESL level: 3
Megan describes her life with Gypsy-like people who inhabit Ireland, living in a caravan and wintering in the capital for school.

No Star Nights - Anna Egan Smucker, (978-0394899251) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-4, Lexile: 980, ESL level: 3 - 4
A young girl describes what it was like to grow up in a small steel town during the 50's.

Nonna Tell Me a Story - Lidia Bastianich, (978-0762436927) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-3, ESL level: 2 - 3
Popular TV chef Lidia Bastianich tells her grandchildren of her growing up in Italy and Christmas with her grandmother there.

The People of 12,000 Winters - Trinka Hakes Noble, (978-1585365296) , Fiction
Interest level: 1-2, ESL level: 3
Walking Turtle is concerned for his favorite cousin who cannot walk on his own and wonders what will happen when they go to warrior school.

Tuki and Moka: A Tale of Two Tamarins - Judy Young, (978-1585367955) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-4, ESL level: 3
Eduardo loves collecting Brazil nuts with his father in the Ecuadorian rain forest, but he misses the tamarin monkeys they usually see there.

Victoria Goes to Brazil - Maria deFatima Campos, (978-1845079277) , Non-fiction
Interest level: 0-2, ESL level: 2 - 3
Victoria's Brazilian mother takes her back to the land of her birth so Victoria can experience time with the family and learn about Brazilian every day activities.

Waiting for the Owl's Call - Gloria Whelan, (978-1585364183) , Fiction
Interest level: 2-5, Lexile: 730, ESL level: 3
A young Afghani girl ties knots to help with the traditional rug making, just like hundreds of other girls have done for countless years.

When I Was Young in the Mountains - Cynthia Rylant, (978-0140548754) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-3, Lexile: 980, ESL level: 4
This fictionalized memoir describes the author's childhood memories of growing up in the mountains with her family.

Yatandou - Gloria Whelan, (978-1585362110) , Fiction
Interest level: 2-6, Lexile: 680, ESL level: 3
A young girl from Mali helps with the millet pounding so that the village women can buy a machine that will do the same work.

Upper Elementary to Middle School Books

Adeline's Dream - Linda Aksomitis, (978-1550503234) , Fiction
Interest level: 4-7, ESL level: 4
Adeline, a recent transplant from Germany, finds many new things in Saskatchewan to adjust to including living in a sod house, the strange tornadoes, prejudice, and the free libraries.

Bringing the Boy Home - N.A. Nelson, (608-86986) , Fiction
Interest level: 4-6, Lexile: 710, ESL level: 3 - 4
Two South American youths prepare for their tribe's manhood rituals differently since one has grown up in Miami, but both experience the same tests in the Amazoninan jungle as they are drawn together by some spiritual force.

Chike and the River - Chinua Achebe, (978-0307473868) , Fiction
Interest level: 3-12, ESL level: 4
A small Nigerian boy who has always enjoyed tales about the powerful Niger River finally gets to experience all its charms after he joins his uncle in a city and rides a ferry on the river.

A Child's Christmas in Wales - Dylan Thomas, (978-0811217316) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-3, ESL level: 3-4
Dylan Thomas' memoir about his childhood Christmases displays feelings common to all children.

City Boy - Jan Michael, (978-0547223100) , Fiction
Interest level: 4-8, Lexile: 620, ESL level: 3 - 4
After Samuel's affluent parents both die of AIDS in a city in Malawi, he must adjust to life in a rural hut where he shares the one room with many cousins and orphans.

A Corner of the Universe - Ann Martin, (978-0439388818) , Fiction
Interest level: 5-12, Lexile: 750, ESL level: 3 - 4
The arrival of Hattie's schizophrenic uncle and her new friendship with a carnival girl turns Hattie's normal life upside down.

Dancing in Cadillac Light - Kimberly Willis Holt, (978-0698119703) , Fiction
Interest level: 3-8, Lexile: 760, ESL level: 3 - 4
Jaynell's small town life becomes more interesting when her grandfather arrives to stay.

Elijah of Buxton - Christopher Paul Curtis, (978-0439023450) , Fiction
Interest level: 3-12, Lexile: 1070, ESL level: 4
A black free child helps the community see through a pastor in Canada who steals money earmarked for freeing slaves.

Jadyn and The Magic Bubble - Brigitte Benchimol, (978-0970165497) , Fiction
Interest level: 3-4, ESL level: 2 - 3
Jadyn travels to India in a magic bubble and learns all about daily life there from food to music to fun activities.

Mei Ling in China City - Icy Smith, (978-0979933950) , Fiction
Interest level: 3-5, ESL level: 3
A young Chinese American girl helps her parents with their restaurant during World War II and enjoys the life in Los Angeles' Chinatown, but she worries about her Japanes friend who has been moved with her family to Manzanar.

Mud City - Deborah Ellis, (978-0888995421) , Fiction
Interest level: 4-7, Lexile: 740, ESL level: 4
A young Afghani girl tries to survive by dressing as a boy and begging on the streets, but she must rely on an American family to help her after she is thrown into jail.

Night of the Howling Dogs - Graham Salisbury, (978-0545176354) , Fiction
Interest level: 3-9, Lexile: 530, ESL level: 3
Boy Scouts experience an earthquake and then a tsunami while camping in Hawaii.

No Ordinary Day - Deborah Ellis, (978-1554981342) , Fiction
Interest level: 3-7, Lexile: 580, ESL level: 3 - 4
Although Valli is terrified of and disgusted with the lepers who live nearby, she discovers she has contracted the dread disease after she runs away from her adoptive home.

One Small Farm - Craig Schreiner, (978-0870206177) , Non-fiction
Interest level: 2-12, ESL level: 3
This book of photographs illustrates a Wisconsin farmer's every day life.

Outlaw in India - Phillip Roy, (978-1553801771) , Fiction
Interest level: 2-5, Lexile: 700, ESL level: 4
Alfred meets an Untouchable boy as he travels across India and begins to learn about the extreme opposites that exist in India side by side, including poverty and riches, safety and danger, and tradition and change (Submarine Outlaw Series).

Penny Dreadful - Laurel Snyder, (375-861998) , Fiction
Interest level: 2-6, Lexile: 740, ESL level: 3
Penny's shock at moving from upper class city life to a broken down home in rural Tennessee changes to interest as she gets used to every day life there.

Safari Journal - Hudson Talbott, (978-0544113466) , Fiction
Interest level: 2-6, Lexile: 780, ESL level: 3
Follow Carey as he learns about every day life in Africa while on a trip with his aunt; the surprises include the Masai customs, the endangered animals, and the many unexpected adventures.

The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs - Betty Birney, (978-1416934899) , Fiction
Interest level: 2-7, Lexile: 790, ESL level: 3 - 4
Eben begins to appreciate the every day happenings in his small Missouri town when he starts to search for amazing things comparable to the Seven Wonders of the World

The Storm in the Barn - Matt Phelan, (978-0763636180) , Fiction
Interest level: 3-8, Lexile: 430, ESL level: 3
Preteen Jack's small town life has its challenges, including typical conficts, the 1937 Dust Bowl, and the appearance of an unknown illness.

Thumb on a Diamond - Ken Roberts, (978-0888997050) , Fiction
Interest level: 3-7, Lexile: 780, ESL level: 3
Winning a regional baseball championship gives two Canadian friends a chance to compare their village life with that of the big city, Vancouver.

The Village That Vanished - Kadir Nelson, (978-0142401903) , Fiction
Interest level: 2-6, ESL level: 3
A young girl and her mother help save their African village from the invasion of the slave catchers.

The Whole Entire Complete Truth - Caroline Rennie Pattison, (155-002583X) , Fiction
Interest level: 4-6, ESL level: 3 - 4
Sarah's boredom with her new home and its small town life until she and a friend uncover a mystery that involves a country structure teeming with wild black bears (Sarah Martin Mysteries).

Witness - Karen Hesse, (978-0439272001) , Fiction
Interest level: 3-12, ESL level: 4
Many different characters in a small Vermont town express their points of view in poetry when the Ku Klux Klan tries to gain ground in the community.

Middle School to Young Adult Books

The Boy Who Saved Baseball - John Ritter, (978-0142402863) , Fiction
Interest level: 3-8, Lexile: 660, ESL level: 4
The appearance of a mysterious new baseball player raises the hopes of a small California town when there is one baseball game that will determine its future.

By the River - Steven Herrick, (978-1932425727) , Fiction
Interest level: 7-9, ESL level: 4
Harry wants to keep out of trouble, but his boredom with his small town life and its haunting memories are challenging to him.

Chandra's Secrets - Allan Stratton, (978-1550378344) , Fiction
Interest level: 7-12, Lexile: 590, ESL level: 4
Chandra must try to cope when friends and family around her are dying of AIDS.

Chu Ju's House - Gloria Whelan, (978-0439799553) , Fiction
Interest level: 4-12, Lexile: 870, ESL level: 4
Chu Ju leaves her modern Chinese home after her mother gives birth to the forbidden second child and goes to live in very rural China where her day to day life radically changes.

A Circle Unbroken - Sollace Hotze, (978-0395597026) , Fiction
Interest level: 6-12, Lexile: 920, ESL level: 4 - 5
Despite being kidnapped and abused by Dakota Indians, Rachel has a difficult readjustment to life with her own family when they find her and return her to home.

The Diary of Ma Yan - Ma Yan, (978-0060764982) , Non-fiction
Interest level: 4-12, Lexile: 720, ESL level: 3 - 4
A Western journalist receives the diary of a struggling Chinese school girl, forced upon her by the girl's illiterate mother; the diary reveals the girls hopes to get out of her crippling rural life through getting an education.

The Disappeared - Gloria Whelan, (803-732759) , Fiction
Interest level: 7-12, ESL level: 4
University student Eduardo's political beliefs land him in prison, and his sister tries frantically to free him, fearing he may become one of the "disappeared."""

Hattie Ever After - Kirby Larson, (978-0375850905) , Fiction
Interest level: 4-12, Lexile: 720, ESL level: 4
Hattie leaves behind her country life on the prairie and arrives in San Francisco hoping to become a journalist.

Horse Mad Western - Kathy Helidoniotis, (978-1552859964) , Fiction
Interest level: 7-9, ESL level: 3 - 4
Ashleigh's ranch life expands when she learns to ride western style and her parents open their home to visitors with a bed and breakfast.

Koyal Dark, Mango Sweet - Kashmira Sheth, (978-0786754656) , Fiction
Interest level: 6-12, Lexile: 790, ESL level: 4
Jeeta is torn between following her two sisters and their acceptance of the traditional arranged marriage and trying to be a more independent woman like those portrayed in locally made movies.

The Last Exit to Normal - Michael Harmon, (978-0440239949) , Fiction
Interest level: 7-12, Lexile: 620, ESL level: 3 - 4
Ben's new small town home is not to his liking until he starts helping the boy next door.

Life, After - Sarah Darer Littman, (978-0545151443) , Fiction
Interest level: 5-12, Lexile: 850, ESL level: 4
Dani has a new urban life in New York City after being forced to leave Argentina, and it is all totally diferent, but when she finds a friend, she slowly recovers from the move and learns to deal with her angry father.

Odette's Secrets - Maryann Macdonald, (978-1599907505) , Fiction
Interest level: 3-9, Lexile: 580, ESL level: 4
Odette's forced removal to the French countryside during WWII teaches her how to be a fake Catholic and how to disguise herself as a peasant.

The Orange Houses - Paul Griffin, (978-0142419823) , Fiction
Interest level: 7-12, Lexile: 610, ESL level: 4
Three troubled teens meet in the Bronx and combine resources, but their problems (hearing impairment, mentally ill vet, and illegal immigration status) prove too much.

The Power of One - Bruce Courtenay, (978-0345410054) , Fiction
Interest level: 6-12, Lexile: 940, ESL level: 4
Peekay, a white boy, survives growing up in a boarding school where he is disciplined with violence and goes on to become a successful boxer and good citizen in South Africa during Aparteid.

Real Time - Pnina Kass, (978-0618691746) , Fiction
Interest level: 6-12, Lexile: 640, ESL level: 4
Tomas quickly learns about the violence of life on the kibbutz where he is volunteering in Israel and comes to terms with some questions he has had (while living in Germany) about his past.

Sand Chronicles - Hinako Ashihara, (978-1421514772) , Fiction
Interest level: 8-12, ESL level: 4
Ann moves with her troubled mother from Tokyo to the mother's small hometown where she finds the pressing kindness of the people uncomfortable; she eventually makes friends, however, who sustain her even though her mother commits suicide.

Spud - John Van de Ruit, (978-1595141873) , Fiction
Interest level: 6-12, ESL level: 4
One boy's hilarious account of his life at a South African boarding school reveals his views on his wild and crazy roommates, his sexual interests, and his barely coping parents.

The Sundog Season - John Geddes, (978-0888013064) , Fiction
Interest level: 8-12, ESL level: 3 - 4
A young boy grows up in a mining town in Northern Canada.

This Thing Called the Future - J.L. Powers, (978-1933693958) , Fiction
Interest level: 6-12, Lexile: 710, ESL level: 4
Khosi, a South African teen, is torn between caring for her AIDS-ridden mother and going on to get her education when neither modern medicine nor her grandmother's attempt at procuring traditional healing help her mother.

When the Whistle Blows - Fran Slayton, (978-0142417324) , Fiction
Interest level: 4-12, Lexile: 810, ESL level: 4
Jimmy Cannon grows up in a small West Virginia town, expecting to become a railroad worker like his father.