The best books celebrating cultural diversity for young children

Who am I?

I began my career with children as a preschool teacher and then as a pediatric nurse. In retirement, my love for kids and children's literature has led me to write stories that make kids laugh, feel loved, and inspire a sense of joy and wonder in the world. I especially love stories where animals, especially dogs, birds, and even fireflies are the main characters and tell the story. And, I  believe that part of appreciating the world and making it a better place is celebrating cultural diversity. That's the theme of City Market! There's just no substitute for reading to children. The benefits are truly endless and will last their whole life long.


I wrote...

City Market!

By Jill Ballou,

Book cover of City Market!

What is my book about?

Kendal takes his friend, Sam, on a tour of his favorite place; City Market! Sam is a first-time visitor and enthralled with all he experiences in the market's intriguing international ambiance. They visit the Bakery, the Coffee Shop, The Italian Groceria, buy spices, listen to street musicians, and more! Come along with the boys as Sam discovers the world close to home. The City Market is a real market located in Kansas City, Missouri, as are all the shops and characters! 

The books I picked & why

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Make Way for Ducklings

By Robert McCloskey,

Book cover of Make Way for Ducklings

Why this book?

I love stories where animals are the main characters and kids do, too! Robert McCloskey's tale about Mr. and Mrs. Duck taking their ducklings across Boston to the pond in the public garden is sometimes harrowing, entertaining, and always charming. Published in 1941, it is a  classic in children's literature that simply doesn't grow old, by one of my favorite children's authors. I remember Captain Kangaroo reading the book on TV to me, I read it to my preschoolers, and naturally to my own kids...more than once! 


The Story about Ping

By Marjorie Flack, Kurt Wiese (illustrator),

Book cover of The Story about Ping

Why this book?

This is another classic tale, originally published in 1933. Despite its publication decades ago, the story remains relevant which puts it in the classic category. It was read to me in kindergarten and when choosing what books to read to my preschool classes seventeen years later I fondly remembered Ping. Ten years after that, I was reading Ping to my kids. Its main characters are Ping, a young duck, and a Chinese boy who wants to save Ping from becoming the family's dinner. The plot occurs on the family's fishing boat as the boy is faced with a difficult dilemma that will save the duck's life. I think it's important that kids hear stories about children making difficult decisions who live in other cultures. The universality of such experiences unites children everywhere.  


Peter's Chair

By Ezra Jack Keats,

Book cover of Peter's Chair

Why this book?

The simplicity of the story and the collage illustrations are perfect for the youngest children. They will connect with Peter's experience of having to share something he values very much. They will experience how Peter works through his feelings with the help of a loving and supportive family. This is one of the first preschool books that I found to feature an African American family.  


The Teddy Bears' Picnic

By Jimmy Kennedy, Alexandra Day (illustrator),

Book cover of The Teddy Bears' Picnic

Why this book?

As a child, I sang along with the song of the same title; the thought of picnicking teddy bears was totally enchanting! This book brings the haunting song to life with luminescent watercolor illustrations depicting fun-loving bear families in the mysterious woods. When I discovered this book I bought it immediately for my preschool daughter.  Reading the story we both wanted to be part of it! The day ends as it should for bear children, making it the perfect 'before bedtime' read for human ones.  


Only One Woof

By James Herriot, Peter Barrett (illustrator),

Book cover of Only One Woof

Why this book?

This true story is about the endearing and lasting friendship between two dogs who become separated when one is sold to a dear friend of the owner. Strangely enough, the dog who stays behind has never barked, and as time goes by it becomes apparent that he never will. That is, until he is reunited once again with his friend! The story will bring a smile to your heart and face. My own dog, her best friend, and this story inspired me to write a series of dog stories about friendship, also based on true events. The dogs show a model of friendship for us all. 


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