Reading books is an excellent way to expose your children to new cultures or deepen their understanding of the ones they already know about. With recent social shifts paving the way for improved cultural diversity in our every day lives, a number of authors and publishers have happily stepped up to the plate and started putting out compelling, meaningful children's books designed to improve cultural awareness.
"I am a citizen, not of Athens, or Greece, but of the world." — Socrates
As parents, it's our goal to raise children who feel a deep connection to their community — both locally and globally. By raising kids as global citizens, we're not only exposing them to fascinating world cultures, we're also teaching them to be kinder, more compassionate, and more inclusive individuals. Because that's what global citizenship is all about, isn't it? Embracing our part in communities and the wider world while working cooperatively to make this planet a better place for all.
While these goals may seem lofty, they're certainly achievable — especially for children. In fact, you can easily nurture your kids' natural tendencies towards morality and empathy in a few simple and achievable ways.
What Makes Someone a Global Citizen? And Why Does it Matter?
You don't necessarily have to travel the world to be a global citizen. Rather, a global citizen is someone who recognizes that there are no boundaries to our shared humanity, and that human rights and civic responsibilities transcend our individual cultures, communities, and countries. Global citizens tend to stand behind common goals that benefit everyone, like greater ecological sustainability, human rights, and the end of world poverty.
Obviously, there are many benefits to raising children who think like global citizens. Firstly, kids raised like this will find it easier to be more open and inclusive in social situations. They'll understand that other members of the human community are just like them, which will deepen their empathy and compassion. And when you teach your kids about other cultures and ways of life, you'll help foster in them a lifelong love of learning, education, and curiosity.
Finally, it's more important than ever to prepare kids for a future in which they're comfortable interacting with people of different backgrounds. This sets them up for a lifetime of good citizenship, and even prepares them to pursue careers and educational opportunities in pursuit of the greater good.
5 Ways to Raise Your Kids as Global Citizens
Every family is different, but some of these tips might help your kid on their path to becoming a global citizen:
1. Teach the Core Values: Empathy & Curiosity
Global citizenship requires a person to look outside themselves and their own limited community in order to extend their energy and compassion outwards to others. This requires a healthy knowledge about other peoples and ways of life, which is something your child will naturally want to explore if you encourage them to remain open and curious.
Sometimes children ask questions about other people that they perceive to look or act different from themselves. Instead of shutting these questions down, work with your kid's curiosity by taking the time to explain people's differences — and underlying similarities.
Most importantly, encourage your children to think and act with empathy. Validate your child's emotions ("I see you are feeling frustrated/sad/excited") so that they can identify feelings in themselves. By teaching them the value of their own feelings and emotions, you're setting them up for the next step — extending that compassion and understanding to others.
2. Read Books on Global Citizenry
You don't have to go that far to teach your kids about different cultures around the world. In fact, incorporating children's books that celebrate other ways of life is an easy, inexpensive way to expand their horizons. Here are just a few to get started:
What is Your Language? by Debra Leventhal. Geared for pre-K to second grade children, Leventhal's delightful children's book celebrates music, language, and communities the world over.
What Can a Citizen Do? by Dave Eggers. It's so important to teach your young global citizen about what citizenship actually means, and Dave Eggers' book seeks to do exactly that.
Babies Around the World by Puck. Looking for something for babies and toddlers? Babies Around the World is a simple and colorful celebration of the world's babies, suitable for little ones.
While books that teach children about diversity as a whole are great, it's also important to find children's books that celebrate specific cultures. If your child is bilingual or learning another language, consider foreign language versions of treasured classics.
3. Teach Your Child A Foreign Language
"Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where it’s people come from and where they are going." ‒Rita Mae Brown
When it comes to supporting young global citizens, learning a second language can also create a powerful connection to another culture. Understanding a foreign language helps foster a deeper connection to another culture's art, music, literature, and lifestyle. And when you can communicate with another person in their native tongue, you improve social connections and enrich relationships with others.
In addition, learning a foreign language sets your children up for future educational opportunity, internships, jobs, or initiatives that involve speaking a different language. If they want to make a global difference as adult citizens, a bilingual background will help them reach their goals.
4. Set Goals to Travel as Often as Possible
Of course, almost nothing can beat travel as a way to support your children on their way to becoming global citizens. Not only is travel a fun and enriching experience for the entire family, it offers children a way to immerse themselves in another culture. Make sure you get creative while traveling:
Visit playgrounds and parks so your child can play with other children
Go to museums and events that highlight culture
Engage openly and respectfully with the people that you meet, encouraging your kids to do the same
Enjoy local cuisine, art, and music
More than anything, it's important to bring your curiosity with you when you travel. Encourage your children to remain open to learning about a culture from the individuals who live in that culture daily. Often, the most important traveling experiences won't take place in a museum — they'll happen in a local marketplace or on line at a cafe.
5. Explore Your Community: Art, Music, and Volunteerism
If international travel isn't necessarily in your budget — or you simply want to take advantage of opportunities close to your home, then you might find that your community is a surprisingly rich place to teach your kids about the world at large. To get started:
Check with your local library to see if they have any upcoming classes, workshops, or events celebrating diversity or world culture
Scan your local news outlets for any parades or events that highlight a particular culture in your area
Many universities have multicultural events and resources; check out the schedule of events at your nearest institute of higher education
Keep an eye out for the arts: any upcoming international musical festivals or art exhibits upcoming in your area?
Celebrate the World Day for Cultural Diversity every May 21st with your family
Volunteer. Celebrating art, music, and dance is an incredible way to connect with your larger community. However, one of the best ways to explore your community while strengthening the key values of global citizenry is to volunteer with your children. Even elementary-age children are mature enough to visit a local nursing home, clean up your local community, or participate in a food drive. Volunteering helps them understand how their individual actions can make a difference in the world at large — and helps them see the value in global citizenry.
Get Started Today
Children have a unique and incredible ability to absorb new information, develop their neural pathways, and strengthen their compassion and empathy. By exposing your children to other cultures, teaching them to learn a new language, and celebrating multiculturalism in your community — you can help raise your child as a true global citizen.
What do snow leopards, African wild dogs, black rhinos, and the Arikara language of the North Dakotan indigenous people have in common? They are all endangered. Just as species’ extinctions threaten the food chain and thereby the ecosystem, language extinctions hurt cultural diversity and thereby our society. To best understand the harsh reality of language extinction, we should investigate some statistics. While differentiating between unique languages and dialects, or just variations of the same language, is very difficult, researchers agree there are between 5,000-7,000+ languages alive today. Studies project that up to 50% of these languages will die out by the end of the century. Some even say the figure is higher at 80%, That is one language dying every few months! This slow and steady leak of linguistic and cultural diversity must be plugged for the sake of our children gaining the exposure to different thoughts and ways of life- exposure that stimulates appreciation and innovation. Admittedly, we, here at Little Pim, do not teach endangered languages, nor have we discussed them in prior blogs. We do, however, always hope to impart that a language is:
- Powerful in the classroom, in the workplace, and on the street
- Empowering in its ability to help cultivate creativity, cultural awareness, problem-solving skills, and pride in one’s roots
- Effectively important to personal and societal growth
In spreading this message in the past (as we will continue to do in the future), we hopefully indirectly made the case for the preservation of dying languages. Additionally, in teaching what are currently actively used languages, we aim to prevent their downfall into the endangered category one day. Yet, today, in this article, we will take a firmer stand for endangered languages, giving them a voice that might otherwise soon be taken away. It is with this voice that endangered languages might return from the edge of extinction.
It is with power in numbers that we can spread the word and reach someone in a position to change an endangered language’s course, so share this if you like the rest of the article. I will explain how we classify levels of endangerment, expound on why you and your family should care, and share what YOU can do to create a better future in which we maintain cultural diversity and awareness.
How do we know when a language is dead?
There are two main measurements of a language’s vitality, the number of speakers and the number of avenues of use.
Number of Speakers
Many languages can be said to have few speakers, but the word “few” is loose and open to interpretation. Determining the exact number of speakers of a language, however, allows linguists to be specific in distinguishing between levels of endangerment. Arikara, which you may recall is in our backyard in North Dakota, is a critically endangered language, with only 3 speakers still alive while the Cherokee language spoken in Oklahoma is classified as a vulnerable language, with only 1,000 speakers.
Number of Functions
The number of functions a language takes on, whether that be in prayer, in scripture, in school, in ceremonies, etc. can quantitatively represent a language’s vitality, because the more sectors of life the language is involved in, the more spoken it must be, and the more it veers away from the edge of extinction.
Some other factors linguists consider with regards to a language’s vitality are the age range of speakers, the number of speakers adopting a second language, the population size of the ethnic group the language is connected to, and the rate of migration into and out of the epicenter of the language.
Why do we care?
In history, conquered civilizations have had to adopt the language of their conqueror in order to fit into their social structure and economy. This is the case because language is so integral to a culture. From writing literature, carrying out rituals and practicing religion to voting in elections, all the human interactions associated with a culture involve written or spoken word. Effectively when a language dies, the culture associated with it dwindles away as well. If 50%-90% of languages die within the century, 50%-90% of existing cultures will likely die as well.
Many of these cultures that will die out only possess oral histories, so we will lose out on the knowledge they have gained from years and years of experience. Even if some of the cultures whose languages die have been documented, without active speakers, their thoughts and practices will likely be left behind in favor of the ones possessed by the dominant cultures and languages. Accordingly, our future society will lack in a diversity of thought and practice due to a lack of cultural diversity. Not only do we lose diversity of culture and thereby thought when languages die, but also when people conform to speaking one language, as is the case with English in the business world. If we continue along this path, we will become a monolingual, culturally homogenous society. In such a society, people might communicate efficiently because they speak the same language, but creativity would be strangled and progress slowed.
What can we do about it?
To prevent the fate of becoming a uniform society, we must recognize that cultural exchange is a two-way street. People speaking endangered languages are learning other languages to be able to interact with members of their extended community. While it may be hard for us to learn endangered languages, we can educate ourselves on which ones are endangered and why, learn about the cultures the endangered languages are from, and encourage their preservation. For example, the Arikara people were originally a semi-nomadic community that expertly harvested corn and tobacco. This mastery of the land gave way to power over other groups living in the plains until smallpox hit. Would this knowledge of the land past on from generation to generation in their language be lost in translation if the language died? Time will unfortunately tell.
Moreover, to avoid one major language from pushing out the others in the future, English-speaking people could learn other languages to communicate with non-English-speaking people, tapping into a whole wealth of knowledge they otherwise wouldn’t have access to. We cannot become complacent just because English is the “language of business.” Little Pim can open your child’s eyes to these other languages and vibrant cultures in the click of a button… literally. Check out our new iOS app!
Live in a Spanish-speaking community? Try our Spanish for Kids program.
Want to know more than the words for French foods on the bistro menu? Try our French for Kids program.
Uh um eh. We often find ourselves tripping on our words. This inability to articulate our thoughts can be the unfortunate side effect of nerves when addressing a crowd, discomfort talking to a stranger, or tiredness after a late night. However, it’s not always our fault at all. In fact, the English language is missing some words to succinctly describe a situation or feeling. Below is a list of just 10 of these words in foreign languages that efficiently express sentence-long concepts in English. Fun fact: the concepts that the English language doesn’t have words to describe are often unpopular, unaccepted or previously non-existent in our culture, which reveals how critical a role culture plays in language evolution. You may not want to integrate these words into your daily English conversation, but they are perfect for trivia or an icebreaker and they shed light on the power of language to provide speakers with the agency to voice thoughts.
1. German: kummerspeck
Ever drown your sorrows in chocolates after a heartbreak or dive into a pint of ice cream after a cruel day at the office? If you have fallen victim to the emotion-induced indulgence and seen progress in your cookie pack instead of six-pack, you can probably relate to this word, which directly translates to mean “grief bacon.”
2. Japanese: wabi sabi
In English, we sometimes call things “perfectly imperfect.” The Japanese have eloquently expounded on this oxymoron by giving a name to the ability to find the beauty in flaws and to accept life’s cyclic nature of growth and decay. American singer Lana Del Ray’s “Young and Beautiful” asks “Will you still love me when I’m no longer young and beautiful?” and is therefore somewhat of an ode to this this subject matter.
3. French: seigneur-terraces
In Starbucks, you can always spot the people who haven’t bought a lot but are really just there to hang out, read a book, research for a paper, answer emails, or just kinda people watch. You know who you are. Well, the French have ingeniously come up with a word to describe these individuals who should owe rent to the coffee shop.
4. Italian: slampadato
The girl or guy at the party who is just a little bit too orange for comfort and definitely owns a membership to the tanning salon is perfectly described by this one word.
5. Mexican Spanish: pena ajena
Overhearing the silence after a colleague makes a bad joke to a group of coworkers or watching on as a woman in heels trips down the steps to the subway can cause you to cringe yourself. This discomfort born of others’ actions and the natural human urge to sympathize is described by this Spanish expression. While there was never a way to describe this feeling in English, kids today have come up with the phrase “second-hand embarrassment.” This goes to show how our language is evolving to fill holes that other languages filled long ago.
6. Russian: toska
Friend: “Are you okay?”
You: “Not really.”
Friend: “What’s wrong?”
You: “I don’t know.”
Such a conversation might ensue when you feel an emptiness or lack of fulfillment that can’t be attached to anything specifically. You might desire something without knowing what that something is. We have all experienced it, but most of us bottle it up or sweep it under the rug, because it’s hard to communicate to those we trust and/or love. The Russians have crated a solution to this problem by having a word to describe this feeling.
7. Arabic: ya’aburnee
If you were assigned the task to write a paper analyzing Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, this Arabic word, meaning the desire to die before someone else, because life without him or her would be too difficult, could prove useful.
8. Portuguese: saudade
When your child loses his or her favorite stuffed animal to the devastating toilet plunge, he or she is suffering from this feeling: a yearning for something or someone that has been lost.
9. Chinese: yuan bei
The deal you have been staffed to at your job, the deal whose pitch you spent sleepless nights writing, you ran by seventeen different superiors, you revised thousands of times, and you cried about more than you would like to admit, just closed. That inexplicable sense of pride in yourself and the perfection of your work is no longer inexplicable thanks to this Chinese word.
10. Korean: dapjeongneo
When you ask your significant other, “Does this piece of clothing make me look fat?” or “Do you even think I’m pretty/handsome?” There is only one acceptable answer. If you have ever been on the receiving end of those questions, you know that. This concept of there being a “correct” answer that a person has no choice but to give has its own recently added word in Korean but no English counterpart as of yet.
Russian Language Day, proclaimed by the United Nations in 2010, is observed annually on June 6th. It also coincides with the birthday of Alexander Pushkin (6 June 1799 – 10 February 1837), a Russian poet who is considered the father of modern Russian literature. Celebrate today by introducing your child to the Russian language with the help of Little Pim! Watch Little Pim, the Panda say the Russian words for all sorts of foods!
Did you know that Russian is spoken by almost 280 million people worldwide? It is the 5th most frequently spoken language in the world! The official language of the former Soviet Union, it is still spoken in 15 European and Asian countries. International political developments and growing business opportunities with multinational companies have led to increased demand for Russian speaking employees and experts, and thus, increased opportunities for Russian speakers.
Little Pim Russian helps children develop the unique speaking and listening skills necessary for learning the language.
Interested in more Russian Language Videos for Kids? Shop now and save 30% with code DISCOVERY on our website: www.littlepim.com
Girls' Day or "Hinamatsuri" in Japan is celebrated annually on March 3rd for the health and wellbeing of young girls. This special day is also known as "Doll's Day" as families who have girls display ornate dolls (hina dolls or hina-ningyō) atop a 7-tiered platform covered with red carpet starting in February until March 3rd. Each step represents a layer of society from the Heian period in Japan. The dolls are traditionally dressed in court attire according to the period and represent the Japanese Emperor, Empress, attendants, and musicians. In many cases, these dolls are passed down for generations from a grandmother to mother to daughter. The origin of this festival dates back to over 1,000 years ago during the Heian period (794-1192).
In addition to displaying the dolls, the Japanese also celebrate by preparing and eating foods of the Spring season and of
pink color. For fun recipes to celebrate Girls' Day at home, check out this post from Just One Cookbook. The website features recipes for the special foods prepared for the festival, such as chirashi sushi, clam soup, and strawberry daifuku.
The strawberry daifuku sounds delicious, especially for those with a sweet-tooth and a perfect recipe to celebrate springtime!
Other fun activities to do with your kids to celebrate and learn about Girls' Day are origami crafts. Follow the steps on this website to create your own Origami Kusudama Flower or watch this YouTube video below to create your own Girls' Day origami dolls!
Have fun introducing your little ones to world cultures and celebrations! If you're celebrating today, share your creations with us using the hashtag #littlepim on Instagram, Twitter or tag us on Facebook. Thanks for reading!
Teaching your child Japanese? Little Pim's Japanese Complete Set opens the door to over 180 basic words and phrases.
Our world is no longer constrained by the borders on a map. It has become increasingly global in every realm from business to social relationships. For a child to flourish in this new and diverse climate, it's important that they get multilingual exposure and begin learning a foreign language before age 6 to experience the most benefits. In most non-English-speaking nations, particularly in Europe; instruction in another language is mandatory. Not only are children taught a second language, but they are often are raised in an environment where they are exposed to multiple languages; necessitating the acquisition of multiple tongues.
In places such as Switzerland and Belgium, there are many recognized languages and dialects, and therefore it is not uncommon for someone to speak three or four different languages. Meanwhile, the vast majority of English-speaking countries have no national mandate for teaching children a second language.
In the United States, foreign language instruction is lacking. According to an article in The Atlantic, only 1% of American adults were proficient in a foreign language. Many aren't exposed to a foreign language until their college years.
The United States isn't the only nation that fails to expose students to foreign languages at a critical age. According to Arlene Harris in her article, Learning the Lingo: Taking up a Foreign Language Before We're 3?; Ireland "lags behind the rest of Europe and should be starting kids off before they're 3."
It is a predominately western problem, perhaps because we are leaving an era dominated by English-speaking business and culture. With the advent of the Internet, success has spread in every direction; including eastward, with the future of industry looking strongly toward Asia and the Pacific. Children must learn languages early to stay ahead of the competition.
Most countries in Europe begin language instruction around the age of seven or earlier. It's not only possible, but beneficial for the budding mind. According to Dr. David Carey, "“All The children can learn another language at an early age [...] [The] young brain, before the age of 5, is able to learn to speak another language without developing an accent — to speak it like a native."
Starting language learning early has documented benefits. The childhood brain is elastic and able to learn and retain a multitude of information that someone in their early 20's would struggle with. It's been documented that it's easier for children to learn a second language than adults, so why wait until college to begin learning such an important skill? Exposing your children early is critical, and Little Pim has the resources you need to get them going!
The first day of the Chinese New Year falls on Saturday, January 28 this year and it's the Year of the Rooster. Also called the "Spring Festival" the new year celebrations and traditions are centuries old and last about 15 days. Kids of all ages anticipate and enjoy the celebrations, parades, and special treats during the festival. On Chinese New Years Eve, families get together to ring in the new year with a reunion dinner where homes are decorated in red and gold paper crafts, glorious lanterns, and intricate ornaments. Mandarin trees and plum blossoms placed in homes during the new year to bring good luck and fortune. Fireworks are set off throughout the night and red paper envelopes of money are given out as gifts. These are only a few of the many Chinese New Year traditions. To learn more about the Chinese New Year celebrations for kids, visit the "A China Family Adventure" website.
Here are a few fun activities you and your family can do to celebrate the Chinese New Year in your home this year:
Learn a bit of Chinese:
Gong Xi Fa Cai (Mandarin) and Gong Hey Fat Choy (Cantonese)! Means “Happy New Year!” and is the standard greeting throughout the holiday.
Have a countdown on Chinese by teaching your kids the numbers 1-10:
一 yī: one 二 èr: two 三 sān: three 四 sì: four 五 wǔ: five 六 liù: six 七 qī: seven 八 bā: eight 九 jiǔ: nine 十 shí: ten
Chinese New Year Crafts
Make your own Chinese lantern with the kids. Get some red and gold construction paper to create your own masterpiece. For step-by-step instructions, head on over to the China Family Adventure website.
You can also have lots of fun making fireworks on black construction paper using glitter glue!
Make a handprint rooster craft to celebrate the year of the rooster and teach your little ones how to say rooster in Mandarin: Gōngjī
Dress the Part
Don whatever red clothing you have — red is a lucky color in Chinese culture. Research the tales and legends of why red is the color of choice during the Chinese New Year. The stories will fascinate you and your children!
For more Mandarin lessons for kids, watch a free preview of Little Pim Mandarin for Kids! Comment below if you have any fun activities for Chinese New Years! Happy New Year or shall we say, Gong Xi Fa Cai!
Looking for some fun holiday crafts for kids during Christmas Break? Christmas Around the World is always a fun theme to incorporate into your holidays. Kids love learning about other cultures and countries and how they celebrate the holidays this time of year. Not only are crafts from around the world fun, they're educational as well. What more can you ask for? Before you dig out the paper, glue, and scissors, do a little research. Decide with your children what countries you want to learn about and make crafts. There are all kinds of wonderful resources on the internet for you to use in your research. Once you decide on which countries you'd like to learn more about, you can get started on the crafts. Try some of these fun ideas.
Flags of the World Ornaments
Use real ornaments or make paper ornaments with the countries flags on them. For this activity, you can also head on over to your local craft store such as Michaels Arts & Crafts to buy supplies to paint your own flag ornaments. They will have plain ornaments that you can paint on. For a image database of the world flags and countries, visit this website from the CIA.
Traditional Holiday Crafts
During your research, find traditional decor or a tradition the country enjoys during the holidays and recreate it with crafts. For example, The Nutcracker is a traditional ballet done in Russia. Design and create your own nutcracker using things from around the house like milk jugs or cartons, paper rolls, Legos, or wood pieces. For ideas, check out this great post from Multicultural Kids on DIY Christmas Ornaments Inspired by World Cultures.
Holiday Nature Crafts
Many countries have "treasures" that come from nature that you can recreate at home. For example, Poinsettias come from Mexico. You can make paper or tissue paper Poinsettias after learning about Mexico. Christmas trees originally came from Germany. In the link above, there is a beautiful Mexican Felt Poinsettia you can make with the kids. Do you have any Christmas crafts that you do with your kids that you can share with the Little Pim community? There are tons of fun Christmas tree crafts to make! Share your traditions in the comments below.
Holiday Dress Crafts
Many countries have traditional clothing they wear during the holidays. Make paper dolls or clothes pin dolls with the traditional clothing worn from the country you researched.
Make crafts of the countries you researched out of paper and hang on a tree or decorate your home. Origami is a great idea for Japan, or make paper chains from Sweden. Let your imagination run wild!
Whatever crafts you decide to use for Christmas Around the World, you know your kids are having fun learning and creating great crafts! For more fun activities, print out our Winter Coloring Pages or fun Hanukkah Crafts for Kids.
The Holidays are easily the most magical time of year for a child. Make it even more magical by exposing them to another culture, like that of wintry Ukraine! In Eastern Europe, Christmas is not heavily celebrated. Instead, it is the coming of Father New Years that brings anticipation to children everywhere. That doesn't mean that there's any less winter wonder! The Mitten is a common folktale for Ukrainian families to read to their little ones during the holidays. With such cold winters, it's no wonder that the main feature of this tale is a group of animals trying to stay warm!
- Explore Winter in Ukraine with this printable craft based on the classic Ukrainian children's story, The Mitten.
The story starts with an old man in the forest losing one of his mittens. As animals in the forest find the mitten, they scurry inside to enjoy its warmth. The story begins with small animals, such as frogs and badgers, and works its way up all of the way to a bear. In the end, it's a little mouse that "breaks the camel's back," so to speak; causing the bear to sneeze and all of the animals to fly out of the mitten.
Engaging your child with The Mitten:
- Watch this free video of the folktale, retold and illustrated by children's author Jan Brett.
- Read the story with your children.
- Ask them, "Why do you think the smaller animals let the bigger animals take up the room in the mitten, even when there were too many?" This will help connect your child's mind to the abstract concepts of the reading.
- Color and illustrate pictures using your kids' imagination of the different animals mentioned in the story. Learn how to say the names of each animal in different languages.
- Discuss Eastern Europe and its Holiday traditions; its climate, its animals, and the similarities and differences between our stories and theirs.
For more phenomenal winter crafts, stay tuned to the Little Pim blog! Happy Holidays!