This post is the first in a two-part series about helping your child to think globally.
We all know that reading aloud together is a proven method to increase your child’s knowledge base, vocabulary, and reading fluency. It’s also a wonderful parent-child bonding time as your child comes to associate reading, learning, and love. Through books, you can easily expand your child’s knowledge of other cultures and languages.
Stories from Around the World
Some fairy tales and fables are shared worldwide. They have been adapted to reflect different cultures through a change of characters, setting, and even language. The story of Cinderella is one of those stories, many cultures have adapted it, but much of the core of the story is the same.
Use the story of Cinderella as a starting point for exploring other cultures with your child. Begin by reading a familiar version of the story with your child. Search for versions from different countries and cultures to compare with the familiar version. Here are a few questions to discuss with your child while you read:
- How are the characters similar in the stories? How are they different?
- Are the foods, clothing, and chores the same in any of the stories?
- How do the different versions of the story compare with the one that is most familiar to you and your child?
- What can you learn about other cultures by reading different versions of Cinderella?
The book Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal: A Worldwide Cinderella combines the Cinderella stories from 17 countries. The author, Paul Fleischman, and the illustrator, Julie Paschkis, give the reader glimpses into the different countries and cultures through this familiar story. Follow your child’s lead to see what piques his interest. Then suggest ways to find out more about that culture or country at the library, on the internet, or by talking to someone knowledgeable. Look for opportunities to use the familiar to extend to a new experience. For example, maybe this is the year your family travels to Disney World for vacation. What a perfect time to look at the story of Snow White in other cultures. (Blanche-Neige in France!) This is also a good time to build on a child’s natural interest in his ancestors. For example, you could say, “Let’s see what the Cinderella story is like from the country where your grandparents were born!”