Multicultural Summer Reading for Kids

Multicultural summer reading is an opportunity to learn about other cultures and countries.
For multicultural families and parents working to raise global citizens, summer reading is an opportunity for kids to expand their horizons and understand their roots. Children explore places, cultures and history through books. They gain new perspective and strengthen language skills with multicultural summer reading.

If you live in the southern hemisphere, you are heading into winter rather than summer. Of course, encouraging children to read is important everywhere and always. Put the resources below to work as they fit your calendar. 

Libraries in the U.S. have been offering summer reading programs for more than 100 years. These programs keep children engaged and learning during the summer months and have been adopted by 95% of public libraries. Typically, the programs challenge children to read a certain number of books or minutes during the summer. The libraries provide a log, host activities, and often offer incentives.

The concept of summer reading programs is not universal. These programs were developed to combat the learning loss associated with long American summer vacations. They also depend on an extensive public library system, something that is not available worldwide.

Of course, families around the world recognize the importance of reading, and we all want to give our children the opportunity to read as much as they can. If you don’t have a summer reading program in your area, there are online summer reading challenges. You’ll find resources below that you can use to encourage multicultural summer reading.

Whether you are participating in your local reading program or encouraging reading on your own, help your child find and learn from multicultural books. With your help, your child can:

  • Read stories about her family cultures.
  • Read stories that are set in places her family members live.
  • Read stories that take place in other countries.
  • Read books in a language she is learning.
  • Locate the countries she reads about on a globe or map.
  • Look at photos of the places stories are set.
  • Choose stories with main characters who have religions different than her own.
  • Cook a meal from a culture in a book she reads.
  • Learn about an artist from a country in a book she reads.
  • Listen to children’s songs from a country in a book she reads.

You will think of more fun ways to engage your child with multicultural books. Most important, ask your child what questions she has about the people and places in the stories she reads. If you don’t know the answers, look for them and learn together.

Multicultural Summer Reading Resources

Online Reading Programs

Do-it-yourself Summer Reading Camp from PBS and – You’ll find a variety of materials to engage kids with books during the summer. Although not specifically a multicultural summer reading program, the materials can be used with any books. 

Spanish Summer Reading Program from Spanish Playground – This program has activities to encourage language learners and native speakers to read in Spanish.

The Seventh Annual New York Times Summer Reading Contest – This contest is for readers anywhere in the world, ages 13-19. Each week the New York Times asks “What interested you most in The Times this week? Why?” They choose the best comments and publish them each week.

Family Dinner Book Club  – A year-round program hosted by bloggers Growing Book by Book, Sunny Day Family, and Daisy at Home. For a featured book of the month, they share a craft, a menu, conversation starters and a family service project.

Scholastic Summer Challenge – An online program where kids log the minutes they read. Children can participate individually or with their school. Although not specifically a multicultural summer reading program, the materials can be used with any books.

Printable Reading Challenges and Logs

You can find many printable reading challenges and logs online. These are a few of my favorites.

My Sister’s Suitcase has a fun bingo-card reading challenge.

No Time For Flash Cards has great summer reading calendars. The link is to the 2015 calendars, but if they are not updated soon, you can use the prompts and adjust the dates. You will find other excellent summer reading resources on the website, too.

Spanish Playground has a log for kids to color and a reading challenge in Spanish.

Multicultural Summer Reading – Book Lists and Recommendations

Multicultural Children’s Book Day –  A wonderful collection of links to reviews of diversity children’s books.

Read Around the World Summer Series – In this summer series, bloggers from around the world recommend children’s books in different age groups. The 2016 series kicks off June 1. You can find last year’s recommendations on the Read Around the World Pinterest Board. This is a fabulous resource for finding multicultural summer reading.

Multicultural Kid Blogs has many thoughtful book recommendations including:
Multicultural Literature for Middle School
Jewish Kidlit Awards
Books to Help You Explore the Middle East
Women’s History Month: Strong Girls in Kids’ Books
Find more MKB recommendations and reviews from member bloggers on the Multicultural Kids’ Books Pinterest Board.

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Jennifer raised her three children speaking English and Spanish, and she has been teaching Spanish to other young world citizens for over twenty years. On her blog Spanish Playground, she shares resources for parents and teachers of Spanish language learners.

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