It’s become devastatingly clear that not everyone recognizes Haiti as the naturally beautiful, culturally rich, nation that it is. Not to mention a resilient one, as we commemorate the 8-year anniversary today of the massive Port-au-Prince earthquake that struck the republic in 2010.
Our kids, however, will not be those people who can’t see what’s wonderful about other nations. As a parent, I will fight back against ignorance and intolerance through my kids. By opening their eyes to traditions, culture, and routines of daily life that are different than our own, our kids will naturally grown in respect and appreciation for the diversity of life on this planet.
Because so many people, in so many places, do amazing things.
Of course, we don’t all have budgets for international travel (though it’s an important part of understanding the world better), so we love finding ways to learn about other cultures right from home and books are one of the very best.
So today, I’ve rounded up some terrific books about Haiti for kids.
These are all excellent additions to your home library, whether you’re teaching your kids about a different culture than your own — or are looking for a way to celebrate heritage they come from.
CMP is an rstyle affiliate
I love the vibrant activity in Janjak and Freda Go to the Iron Market by Elizabeth Turnbull and Mark Jones (with Creole translation by Wally Turnbull). The author, who was born and raised in Haiti, wanted to fill a void she saw in children’s books about Haiti, which often focused on difficult social issues. Instead, this book is full of all the childhood joy she experienced as a child in Haiti — from tasting new foods to meeting friends at the market, to the exciting chaos of a goat running loose through the stalls.
The award-winning Haiti: My Country by Rogé, a Quebec-based artist, is a collection of portraits of Haitian children, accompanied by poems written by teenage Haitians. It acknowledges the difficulties the country has faced, while still presenting the beauty and nature of the country as their hope for a bright future.
Tap Tap by Karen Lynn Williams is not a new book, but it’s a classic portrayal of the iconic Haitian transportation method. The joy and passion for life that comes through the pages will have your kids wanting to take their own ride on a Tap Tap, which gets its name from the fact that passengers tap tap the side of the open-air truck when they’re ready to be dropped off. That said, be sure to check Karen Lynn Williams’ author page on Amazon. She has an extensive portfolio of books celebrating Haitian and African culture that will all be excellent additions to your home library.
Food plays such an important role in our culture and traditions, so we love that our kids can learn about the soup traditionally served on New Year’s day as a celebration of Haitian independence through the book Mmmmmm! Soup Joumou!, which is part of the Zoe Beautee Little Readers Collection by Carline Smothers. Read it with your kids, then make a big pot of soup joumou for yourselves for dinner.
We were moved by the story in Eight Days: A Story of Haiti by Edwidge Danticat and illustrated by Alix Delinois. It’s hard stuff: the story of a boy who was trapped underneath the rubble of his home for 8-days after an earthquake hits. He imagines all the happy things in his Haitian childhood, and that’s what helps him survive until he is ultimately rescued and reunited with his family. It’s a story of resilience, but may be scary for younger kids — or kids who lived through the earthquake that happened 8 years ago today.