Global reading

Reading the world for children

Orla Redmond has set herself the lockdown task of compiling a reading list of favourite children’s books set in different countries around the world. She needs your help!

Return to the bookshelf

During this period of quarantine, many people have turned to books, which offer a brilliant distraction from the chaos we currently face. Moreover, they provide comfort and connection in uncertain times.

An image caught my eye recently and got me thinking. It is a graphic (from Huffpost) of the US featuring the most popular book set in each state.

I began to wonder what the equivalent list for Ireland (where I’m from) would look like. What would be on the list for Malaysia (where I now live)? What are the most popular books in other countries? How do you achieve consensus on such matters? What would the list of children’s books look like? So many thoughts and questions!

Reading challenges

I began to do a little research and came across this article Why You Should Read Books From Every Country In The World. It led me to discover Ann Morgan who challenged herself to read one book from every country in the world in one year. What a monumental task! To begin with, Ann had to address the question of when is a country not a country before trying to find a book to represent each one.

A year of Reading the World

Ann’s blog, A Year of Reading the World, records her list, the help she received from strangers worldwide in compiling it, and her very many reading adventures since. I was delighted to find Ann’s book choices, with an attached description of each one, pinned to the world map here. The sheer number of pins reflects the scale of the task undertaken. Ann went on to document her journey in her own book (Reading the World: Confessions of a Literary Explorer) and has spoken about it in a Ted Talk.

John R Brookes details a similar challenge on his blog Reading the World. John’s reading odyssey, in which he travelled the globe from the comfort of his armchair, began in May 2009 and lasted until March 2020. Throughout, John’s focus was on contemporary literature and you can find his book lists, ratings, and some reviews on Goodreads.

Reading the world for children

It strikes me that Ann and John serve as brilliant inspiration for us as parents and educators. Can we compile a list of children’s books representing the world? I feel using world countries (no disrespect to Ann) means some children will be left out. Under such a definition, the lovely youngsters I used to teach in the Cayman Islands would not have their voice heard as Cayman is a British Overseas Territory. With that in mind, books set where you live seems more all-encompassing.

Creating a truly global reading list

Having worked internationally as a teacher for some time now, I am mindful curriculum content does not always adequately reflect the culture of a school’s setting and is poorer for it. It strikes me a great spirit of unity and cooperation is currently evident globally. How wonderful would it be to harness this to create a children’s reading list that is truly international in flavour? I am certain if we were to read more widely, we would show greater respect and understanding towards one another.

I am asking for your help as it is only through cooperation a list like this can be created. Please write and tell me the best children’s book(s) set where you live (country & area – region/state/county/city/town/village – if applicable to the book). Nominations of books in Languages Other than English are really welcome, but it would be great if you can tell me a little about the story too in English.

Let’s compile a reading list that opens our children’s eyes to the diversity and wonder of the world around us. Let’s create a library with our regional books on the shelves. Let’s enjoy enchanting adventures and drift off to far-away lands from the comfort of our own homes.

If you would like to nominate a title, please contact me here:

Thank you and take care!



Orla Redmond MA (Ed.) is an experienced educator who has worked in teaching, managerial, and advisory capacities in both independent and government schools, in Ireland, the UK, and other regions worldwide.  Her specialist interests include supporting disadvantaged pupils and pupils with SEN. Read more from Orla at where she shares resources and thoughts about education. 



Feature Image: 微博/微信:愚木混株 Instagram:cdd20 from Pixabay

Support Images: Plume Ploume  &  95C from Pixabay