The most effective way of introducing children to cultural diversity is through books. But not just any books. Quality books with rich story, beautiful illustrations, and accurate message. I used this as my guide in putting this list together. I did include two nonfiction books (the first two on my list) that provide a general introduction to Russia. The next seven are captivating stories that will delight you and your children. I hope you enjoy it.
- R is for Russia by Vladimir Kabakov. Each letter of the alphabet introduces reader to something Russian starting with that letter. For example, C is for Chess, a game that is popular in Russia. D is for Dacha, Russian country house.
- Russia ABCs: a book about the people and places of Russia by Ann Berge. Another ABC book that teaches facts about Russia. For example, B is for Ballet, which is big in Russia. L is for Lake Baikal, the deepest lake in the world.
- The Littlest Matryoshka by Corinne Demas Bliss. This is a sweet little story about American girl who always wanted Matryoshka, but it was too expensive for her parents until the day it goes on sale because one of the Matryoshka’s in the set is missing. Don’t worry. The story ends well. In a providential way the littlest Matryshka finds its way back to the girl. This happy ending never fails to bring smiles to my kids’ faces.
- The Magic Nesting Doll by Jacqueline Ogburn. This is a beautifully illustrated book that reverses the traditional Sleeping Beauty fairy tale. In this story Katya, a peasant girl uses her magic nesting doll to wake the sleeping Prince, to set things right and to release the evil spell.
- The Sea King’s daughter: a Russian legend by Aaron Shephard. This is a classic, very old (at least medieval times old), fascinating and very deep story about a legendary musician Sadko. One night Sadko’s music reach the ears of the Sea King and the Sea King’s daughter… if you read the title you can already see where the story is going. Yep, the Sea King’s daughter … well, I don’t want to give too much away. It’s a beautiful story. Read it, if you like a good fairy tale. Illustrations are like paintings of old masters.
- The Princess of Borscht by Leda Shubert. It’s a good introduction to Russian cooking. Ruthie’s grandma is in the hospital and to make her feel better Ruthie sets out to cook Borscht, a nutritious beetroot soup, on her own for the first time. You can read this book and then cook the soup together (Recipe here). It’s always fun to eat something made together.
- Annushka’s Voyage by Edith Tarbescu. Two Russian girls travel with their mother from a small village in Russia to start a new life in New York. I really like the pen-and-ink, acrylic, and colored pencil illustrations.
- The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco. From scraps of fabric of little girls’ dresses and old aprons immigrant great-grandma sets out to make a quilt “to help us always remember home.” The story is sad, funny and heart-warming. I highly recommend reading all of Patricia Polacco’s books.
- At the wish of a fish by J. Patrick Lewis. A lazy Russian simpleton catches a magic fish. What would he do with this gift? This traditional story is full of fantastic rhyme, metaphorical language, and colorful expressions. If you read just one book from this list make it this one. I can not think of better introduction to the world of Russian folk tales.
Have you ever read books about Russia? Any recommendations?