Eight Things Every Multicultural Family Needs

Multicultural House Pinnable

When Annabelle of The Piri Piri Lexicon posted her “What makes your home multicultural” series, I thought about all the things that make families like mine unique. What objects do we have at home? How do we showcase our identities and traditions? And I came to the conclusion that what we have at home does make us special but it is more about how use the things we have, and that you would find many of the items listened in this post in any “regular” home.

What are the things every multicultural family needs? Here’s a little list. Obviously, you don’t need all the things! This is less about needs, but more about the many great ways to make your home more multicultural.

1)      Read Books

There is no such thing as too many books, and you can pick books about other countries, written in many languages. In fact, books are great because they help children discover new worlds- and new words, too, but you can also use them as a way to talk about culture in your family.

2)      Play With ToysMinority Toys

I think there are two types of toys that could be great for multicultural families- in fact they are great for all families. The other types are open-end toys – for example LEGO, KAPLA, wooden blocks, and natural objects such as sticks or stones.  Other toys that are great for all kinds of families are minority toys: black dolls, dolls for boys, for example.

3)       Use art supplies

Art supplies can be great for all families (especially, if unlike me, you’re crafty). Specifically, they can be used to explore art in different cultures. For example, I had an idea where I wanted to have my children’s names translated into Chinese characters and do a writing exercise with them so that they could learn that there is more than just one alphabet- and I’d like to give a huge shout-out to Miss Panda Chinese for helping me with idea!

4)      Play musical instruments and listen to musicInstruments

I used to sing in a choir and still play the guitar sometimes. Needless to say, music is a huge part of my life, and I want my children to experience the beauty of music as well. We have my guitar and a keyboard which I really want to learn to play, but instruments from other cultures are great thing, too! We also have two rattles from South America. Other great instruments are drums and castanets, but please check Daria Music for more great multicultural instruments! On top of that, we listen to great music from all over the world.

5)      Buy globes, maps and atlases


This is of course the most obvious thing that shows that you are interested in multicultural matters. Many families hang maps on the walls- we used to have one as well. Some have a globe as well- we do. There are many great atlases out there for children.

6)      Showcase memories

Let’s remember that the word “souvenir” comes from French and means “remembrance” or “memory” and I think that keeping that in  mind, there are two types of souvenirs. The typical souvenir is one you bring back from travels. Ashley Steel and Bill Richards, authors of “Family on the Loose” even suggest having a special closet for them! I would also call family photos and objects souvenirs due to the memories that they symbolize and the ties they make to family traditions.

7)      Use the power of technology


Not everyone would agree with me, of course, but I believe that technology is a great opportunity, not only for play but also for learning and for staying in touch with extended family. We use Youtube a lot for songs and films in the minority language, I have my DSRL camera which I absolutely love, and I use it to take pictures. If used correctly, technology and media are great for bonding, quality time, and provide opportunities to learn about the world and cultures.

8)      Cook

Many families, even though they’re not multicultural, have a wok, can use chopsticks to eat and or cook dishes from a variety of cultures. A kitchen could also have spices and ingredients from all over the world- just like mine does, and luckily nowadays they are mostly easily available.

As you see, I think that what makes our families truly multicultural is ourselves. What I listed, these are tools that we can use to combine our many cultures and languages. However, another thing that becomes visible is that it doesn’t take much to add some multicultural flavour into your home!

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Olga Mecking

Olga Mecking is a writer, journalist and translator. Her articles have been published in The BBC, The Guardian, The Washington Post, and many others. Olga is also the author of Niksen. Embracing the Dutch Art of Doing Nothing When not writing or thinking about writing, Olga can be found reading, drinking tea, and reading some more.

9 thoughts on “Eight Things Every Multicultural Family Needs”

  1. Thank you for pointing to the extra significance these things take on in multicultural families. I always took for granted music and books in more than one language, or foods from different cultures, but they were definitely from the cultures we identified with. These are great examples of how to make your family space more global.

  2. Love the list and how diverse it is. I can’t wait till mine is a big older and can communicate better, so he won’t destroy musical instruments/globes.

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