Living books for world cultures

Living books for world cultures

The great thing about studying other cultures when you’re homeschooling is that you can cover many learning areas while you do it. Geography, customs, history, foreign language, citizenship and more are all bundled together when you study people and culture.

We found living books to be the best basis for an immersive study of other cultures. Cultures are expressed in stories, art and beliefs, and there’s no better way to really dig deep with these elements than when relayed through a person living in that culture (whether fictional or real).

We’ve listed several books below from different countries and times to get you started, but by all means, supplement with non-fiction books that focus on the culture or country you are studying. These will help provide background, context and further reading.

If you’re after a bit more structure and guidance, Beautiful Feet’s Around the World with Picture Books is a great program for younger children.

We’ve divided our list into continents for your easy reference. Keep checking back as we add to this list.


The first book you should have when studying any other culture is a good book of maps. This book is beautifully illustrated and is more engaging for kids than a standard atlas. It’s a worthy investment.

Travel the world without leaving your living room. This book of maps is a visual feast for readers of all ages, with lavishly drawn illustrations from the incomparable Mizielinskis. It features not only borders, cities, rivers, and peaks, but also places of historical and cultural interest, eminent personalities, iconic animals and plants, cultural events, and many more fascinating facts associated with every region of our planet. There are seven instances of cartoon illustrations that are either nude or partially nude.


Material World

This is a fascinating book to learn about how other people live and what they value. Keep this one on your coffee table.

“In an unprecedented effort, sixteen of the world’s foremost photographers travelled to thirty nations around the globe to live for a week with families that were statistically average for that nation. At the end of each visit, photographer and family collaborated on a remarkable portrait of the family members outside their home, surrounded by all of their possessions; a few jars and jugs for some, an explosion of electronic gadgetry for others.”

DK People & Places

This encyclopedia of cultures from around the world is an engaging book for children and adults alike. We’ve got the older edition and our kids really enjoyed the high-interest format.

Beautiful photography and information on more than 80 world cultures, this is a must-have addition to your homeschool library.

It’s a hardback, so made to endure hours of pouring over and handling by children.



South Africa- Journey to Jo’burg

Kenya – A Girl of Two Worlds

Mali РYatandou  (picture book)

Sudan – The Bible or the Axe (for teens and adults)


Amazon – It’s a Jungle Out There

Alaska – Water Sky


India – Homeless Bird

Afganistan – The Bread Winner (AKA Pavana)

Taj and the Great Camel Trek (set in Australia)

Pakistan – The Truth About Peacock Blue

China – Li Lun, Lad of Courage

Korea – A Single Shard

Japan – The Samurai’s Tale

Middle East

Iran – Tales of Persia


Poland – The Trumpeter of Krakow

Hungary – The Good Master

The Netherlands – The Boy Who Held Back the Sea

Hans Brinker

Germany – Twenty and Ten (WW2)

Spain – Shadow of a Bull

Australia and Oceania

Australia – Taj and the Great Camel Trek

The Girl with No Name

A Fortunate Life (abridged)

Polynesia – Call It Courage

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