Reading to Learn More
Lots of kids just love the Olympics. Whether they’re cheering on their favorite sports heroes, gazing mesmerized at the pageantry, or admiring the incredible artistry of those gymnasts and divers – it seems like our kids can’t get enough of this global competition.
And for many U.S. children, the Olympics may be a rare chance to really focus on another country – whether it’s an Olympic host like Brazil or China, or a small country like Jamaica, home of celebrity medalist Usain Bolt. Maybe your kids noticed that Hungary is a swimming powerhouse, or that Kenya and Ethiopia produce top long-distance runners. Because of the Olympics, these countries have become more than just names on a map.
So if your children were really fired up by the recent Olympics, why not keep them on a roll with some entertaining and informative follow-up reading? Here are a few suggestions – about the Olympics, about famous global sports figures, and about the fun and fascinating country of Brazil.
Parents and children will enjoy reading together about famous athletes around the world. Your budding gymnast will love the brand new children’s biography of Romanian gymnastics phenomenon Nadia Comaneci. Or your young soccer star might go for a charming bilingual book about Brazil’s own legendary Pelé. And everyone will be inspired by the life story of Jamaica’s stellar track and field champion, Usain Bolt.
Meanwhile, here is an excellent matched set of books about today’s global soccer stars:
We wish there were more and better children’s books about the Olympics – and yet the recent Rio games do not seem to have inspired any new ones.
One good book from 2011 is G is for Gold Medal: An Olympic Alphabet Book. With its brief, rhyming text that covers an A-Z of topics, this overview is full of interesting facts.
Meanwhile, the DK Eyewitness series is terrific for ages 8-12, and even though this volume on the Olympics hasn’t been updated since 2005, it’s still a great resource on the history of the Games and how they work.
Following is a varied (but by no means complete) list of good books about Brazil. From lullabies and nursery rhymes, to fun chapter books, to riveting tales from the Amazon for young teens, there is something for everyone. Enjoy them and learn more about the beautiful country of Brazil!
For little ones age 2-6, we love this bilingual book / CD compilation of lullabies and nursery rhymes. You can listen to an audio preview here.
Ana Maria Machado is an award-winning Brazilian author of books for young people. “What a Party!” is a hilarious picture-book romp that reminds us of how multi-cultural Brazilian society is, just like the U.S.
For ages 6-9, we recommend these three lively early-reader chapter books:
The Princess of the Springs: A Story from Brazil (part of the Princess Stories series), is a traditional tale featuring a brave young princess who rescues her mother and her baby son;
Living In…Brazil (part of the Living In… series) is a charming and fun tour of the country narrated by 9 year old Marco; and
Mystery of the Troubled Toucan (in the Pack n Go Girls series) features Sofia Diaz, who travels with her family to Brazil from Miami and lands in a big rain-forest adventure.
And – last but not least – a fabulous book for age 10 and up is Amazonia: Indigenous Tales from Brazil. This beautifully-illustrated collection of traditional folktales “combines the authentic voice of Munduruku, an Indian who grew up in the Amazon rainforest, with the imagined Amazon of Russia’s foremost children’s book illustrator. … More than just rollicking adventures, the stories offer a panorama of experience — conflict and death, love and seduction, greed and gluttony, hunting and fishing, cooking and caring for plants — and describe the origins of the natural world.”
We hope you and your family have fun with this Rio-2016 inspired book selection – let us know what you think!