Do you love to travel? Want to raise your children to speak more than one language, or to appreciate flavors from global cuisines? Are you living abroad or do you simply want to teach your children to be more globally minded? Then we have a great read for you! Below is a list of our favorite books for global families – stories of expat life, tips for travel, recipes for your little global foodies, and practical advice for blending cultures and raising multilingual children. The books in this collection, as diverse as they may seem, share a common orientation towards the larger world and helping families find their place within in it, whether through travel, cooking, education, or parenting.
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the following books for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, Multicultural Kid Blogs receives a small commission.
Top Books for Global Families
Knocked Up Abroad Again: Baby bumps, twists, and turns around the globe (Volume 2) edited by Lisa Ferland
Genre: Expat Parenting
Favorite Quote: “We are the new brave. We dare to have children in a place we’ve not known long. The culture, the language, and mores will raise up our new babies and they will know two worlds while we still grapple and try to straddle, fling ourselves over two walls.” (Melissa Uchiyama)
Why You Need It: Whether you are an expat parent yourself or just enjoy a good read, the highly anticipated sequel to Knocked Up Abroad: Stories of pregnancy, birth, and raising a family in a foreign country is a perfect book to curl up with on the couch or take with you on the plane. It details the typical challenges of pregnancy and parenthood that all of us can relate to, but in settings and circumstances we are unlikely to have faced. This intersection of the universal and intensely individual experiences is what makes this compilation of essays so appealing. As Melissa Dalton-Bradford says in the foreword, it is “an irresistible compilation of true life accounts rich with firsthand insights and best friend frankness.” Some situations – such as the husband of a woman in labor being prevented from entering the delivery room, so that he has to shout out translations for her from the hallway – are so absurd they are laugh out loud funny, while others are more poignant. All are heartfelt and searingly honest, building a multidimensional portrait of global motherhood that spans continents and cultures.
Favorite Quote: “Maybe it was the absence of a healthy home and family in my childhood that meant I had to search the globe to find my place in the world. In the end, I decided the most exciting and meaningful thing I could do with my life was to settle down in a thriving city by the sea, become a part of the community, and raise my kids. Almost all of my adult friends with kids had already figured this out, but I like to take the long route.”
Why You Need It: Gilbert has done what so many of us only dream of: go on an around-the-world odyssey in pursuit of creating a truly multilingual, multicultural family life. If you are curious about whether you could really survive such a heady yet challenging journey to learn three completely different languages in their home settings, then Gilbert’s narrative will give you an honest account of all the ups and downs of her family’s country-hopping trip. What I love is that Gilbert’s work is at once rigorously intellectual – citing academic work on language acquisition and multilingualism – without losing its emotional depth, as she makes the facts comprehensible by mapping them onto her personal experiences with her own family experiment. It is also just a great read – I loved all the little anecdotes of life traveling with small children and the complex ways that parenting and travel can bring into vivid relief one personal history. A wonderful book for those interested in multilingualism and those that simply love a good adventure story.
Favorite Quote: “Speaking more than one language is a way to enhance not only your own development and relationships but it also improves extended family bonds, intercultural understanding and acceptance. You learn new ways of thinking and become more open to new ideas and different cultures. I believe that if people all over the world communicated more and learnt more about each other, we would create a better place to live for ourselves and generations to come.”
Why You Need It: There are so many articles and books out today on bilingualism that it’s often hard for non-experts to sift through and find what is true, and then, what is useful. I have come to rely on Rosenback’s opinion personally when it comes to anything related to bilingualism. She is not only wise in academic terms but in personal experience as well. She successfully raised her own children to be fluent bilinguals and through her website and Facebook group continues to help many other families to do the same. I love that this book is based on solid research but isn’t bogged down in it, making it an easy read for busy parents who already know the benefits of bilingualism and just want to focus on the how-to. It lays out the different strategies and helps you create your own family language plan – and gives tips for how to adapt that plan when circumstances change. Moreover, it offers encouragement and helps build confidence for families, particularly when faced with naysayers or their own self-doubts, that they can successfully raise bilingual children.
100 Tips for Traveling with Kids in Europe by E. Ashley Steel and Bill Richards
Favorite Quote: “Many folks worry that their kids are not old enough for a big European adventure, or that they won’t remember their travel experiences when they get older. Kids are never too young to travel! We start reading to our kids long before we expect them to remember or even understand the story. Why? Because it’s fun, gives us a great way to interact and engage with them, and fosters a life-long love of learning. For the same reasons, it’s never too early to start exploring the world with your kids…Travel fosters a life-long passion for cultural exploration, an understanding of the many beautiful ways people can differ, and a commitment to thinking beyond one’s own backyard.”
Why You Need It: If you are planning a European vacation with your children, you absolutely must read this book – and take it with you when you go! All of the travel tips are incredibly practical (such as how to make sure your credit cards aren’t cut off when you travel) yet also have an eye towards the ultimate goal of traveling, which is to experience the culture and spend quality time with your family. And no wonder, since the authors are such experienced travelers themselves! I often refer to their wonderful Family on the Loose: The Art of Traveling with Kids before our family trips, so I’m especially glad to have more of their insights. While this new volume does contain many tips that could be used before any family travel, many others are specific to Europe. I love that they have tips for all ages, from infants (how much baby gear do you really need to bring?) to teenagers (how do you get your too cool older kids excited about the family trip?) A final note: You must check out the photography in this book: All of the photos were taken by kids! They is a beautiful tribute to the book’s focus on children and their travel experiences.
Favorite Quote: “In the United States parents often presume that children will have no interest in the offerings on the adult menu and that they’ll naturally be picky eaters, shunning too-strong flavors or healthy ingredients…The opposite is true in many other countries. In Japan, a child can be seen eating sushi with wasabi alongside their parents. In France, it’s common to see children snacking on brie, water crackers, and onion quiche with their picnicking parents.”
Why You Need It: If you have a baby in your life, this book is the perfect guide to making their transition to solid foods more enjoyable for everyone! Not only is a great way to lay the foundation for culinary adventures, it will help you make dishes that are guaranteed to be better received than watery commercial rice cereal! I was especially keen to use this book as I have a little one in my house and I want to help her appreciate a range of tastes from an early age. But I soon discovered that this book is really for the whole family! The main lesson is to experiment with different spices, foods, and flavor combinations, an idea that translates into what the rest of the family is eating as well. All of the recipes are easy to adapt for older eaters by, for example, not mashing or pureeing the ingredients, though often the dishes can be enjoyed as is. This past weekend, for instance, I made blueberry soup from Poland/Finland/Sweden, and it was a hit with all of my kids. (Not to self: next time make a bigger batch so there’s enough for Mom, too!) I love the chart of baby-friendly spices and the map of first foods from around the world. All of the recipes are easy to make, and the photography is absolutely stunning.
The Ultimate Guide to Intercultural Relationships by Brittany Muddamalle
Favorite Quote: “If you are dating anyone other than yourself, you are in an intercultural relationship. Only you have experienced your culture exactly. Any person you will date will have differences in their culture, regardless of how big or small.”
Why You Need It: This self-published book is an easy to read guide to how to blend cultures in your family and how to maintain a healthy relationship with your partner. Many of the tips, like communication, apply to any couple but are imperative for those from different cultures. One section that stood out for me was on in-laws. Just as we were all raised with certain expectations, they too have expectations of their son- or daughter-in-law that may be difficult to change. This guide gives tips for trying to win them over but also how to handle situations where they simply don’t support your relationship. I love that each section ends with a practical challenge and that in the end readers are invited to join the incredibly supportive Facebook group for blending families.
What is your favorite book for global families? Share in the comments!
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