Trying to encourage your students to read a variety of books? This free online library provides a wealth of diverse and engaging literature!

The mission of the International Children’s Digital Library (ICDL) Foundation is to “excite and inspire the world’s children to become members of the global community – children who understand the value of tolerance and respect for diverse cultures, languages and ideas — by making the best in children’s literature available online.” Website address is http://www.childrenslibrary.org/index.shtml

The site provides free access to over 1300 books from more than 42 countries in 11 different languages. Amongst the collection are picture books, scanned old books from library archives and stories which capture the essence of different lives and cultures. Books are read online through your computer. You can search for books in an easy to use graphical environment. This allows you to find books via age brackets, content categories, genres and other sorting filters like true books, picture books and short stories. You can also do advanced searches by title, author or keyword.

Each year the language specialists at the International Youth Library in Germany, select newly published books from around the world that they consider to be especially noteworthy. This White Raven label is given to books that deserve worldwide attention because of their universal themes and/or exceptional and often innovative artistic and literary style and design. Many are available on ICDL. An example is Taming the taniwha by Tim Tipene and illustrated by Henry Campbell. This vibrant colourful book tells a story about a boy who overcomes being bullied at school. Young readers can join the ICDL and write reviews on the books which are then published on the website. For instance, 10 year old Max from Germany reviewed the Kenyan book, The Alien by Anthony Mwangi. His review included: “To me the most important thing in the story was when Pakko got the bad animals and humans together and said that they should be good.”

There are currently 215 books written or translated into English but don’t let that limit you! Do you have students who speak a different language at home? Do you have members of your school community who can read another language? What about integrating into Visual Arts? Is your class studying another country in HSIE? Books from other countries can be searched for by spinning an interactive globe. What about projecting the book on your SMARTBoard and reading with the whole class!

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