Kid Stuff

Family Volunteering The New York Times' informative article on family volunteering in the developing world (Can Travel Make the Child? Jennifer Conlin, August 12, 2012) reported on three companies that organize family volunteer vacations: Me to We, Globe Aware and Experience Mission.

Palazzo Vechio in Florence Italy offers tours in English for youngsters ages 3-8 that will fascinate young travelers who get to hold the Mediciís coins, smell their perfumes, and even try on replicas of the Princesí and Princessí clothes. Just wait until they see the hidden door in the Medici map room swing open to reveal a secret passage! Reservations are a must.

Galileo Museum, Florence, Italy, offers two floors of interactive models and inventions that will engage and fascinate your youngster (perhaps more than the formal, more traditional exhibits on the other floors.) Learn more>

Great Books for Girls. Kathleen Odean, who chaired the Newbery Award Committee, has recommended more than 600 books for girls. Published ten years ago, itís missing some recent favorites but it will remind you of wonderful books that you may have forgotten. (Great Books for Girls, More than 600 Recommended Books for Girls Ages 3-14, Kathleen Odean, Random House, 2002)  

Rascals in Paradise, a service of Casto Travel, San Francisco, makes it easy to vacation internationally with your children or grandchildren. Want to go to...Europe, Africa, the Caribbean, Central America, Asia, Oceania...but want American children's menus? A crib? A high chair? Connecting rooms? A prescreened baby-sitter? Casto's Rascals in Paradise takes care of all that and even identify family-friendly resorts with children's activities and shaded playgrounds. And, if you want to be sure your kids have pals to play with, they will plan a 6-family group trip (each family has its own baby-sitter so the adults can vacation, too; a teacher escorts the tours, helps the kids learn a little bit about the local language, history and culture, and even invites local children over for play dates). Rascals in Paradise, c/o Casto Travel, 500 Sansome, Suite 601, SF, CA 94111, USA. Tel: Phone: 415.273.2224; Email:; Website:

Girl Scouts of Santa Clara County and Youth Philanthropy Worldwide have created the Women Worldwide Interest Patch. To earn it, girls learn to be a grant maker, design a logo for an overseas nonprofit, investigate laws around the world that protect women. Read more>

African Princess, The Amazing Lives of Africaís Royal Women. Girls ages 8+ will be enthralled with the complicated, dangerous lives of the six women profiled in this extraordinary new book, beginning with Hatshepsut of Egypt who crowned herself pharaoh in the 15th century BC. Throughout the book are stunning watercolor portraits by Laurie McGaw, plus photographs.

Xanadu Galleryís Folk Art International Resources for Education is a nonprofit program that lends masks, puppets, textiles, musical instruments to schools, museums and art centers in Northern California. Kits focus on Africa, China, Indonesia and Mexico.

Girl Scout founder Juliette Low loved travel and her organization offers girls many global opportunities. Members 14-17 can participate in international travel programs such as surfing in Mexico or sea kayaking in Costa Rica.

The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) provides opportunities for international friendship and understanding among Scouts and Girl Guides from 144 countries. Website:

Waiting to be Heard. Isabel Allendeís forward introduces this volume in which young people speak out about inheriting a violent world. Thirty-nine students of San Francisco's Thurgood Marshall Academic High School use fiction, poetry, and experimental writing to offer passionate, lucid statements about personal, local, and global issues. (Waiting to be Heard, Isabel Allende, 826 Valencia, 2004)

Global Grover segments on Sesame Street introduce kids and their cultures around the world. Grover visits a six-year-old Chinese acrobat in one show, a girl learning to play the Puerto Rican guiro in another. After 35 years, Sesame Street now operates in 120 countries, working with local educators to tailor its material.

Children Just Like Me is a book by Anabel and Barnabas Kindersley, produced for DK Publishing in conjunction with UNICEF. The authors traveled for almost two years to more than 30 countries to meet, photograph, and talk with the children featured in this book. In their next project, Celebrations, children from a wide range of countries give a first-person account of how holidays are celebrated. (Children Just Like Me, DK Children, 1995)

The Peace Book. The abstract concept, peace, is difficult for kids under seven to understand. This book by Todd Parr relates the notion of peace by making new friends, listening to different kinds of music, and helping neighbors. With bright colors and smiling characters, The Peace Book is timeless, universal and can spark discussions in homes and classrooms. (The Peace Book, Todd Parr, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2009)

Madam President. The story of a 10-year- old girl who wants to be president. This book introduces her to women foreign leaders, presidential appointees, congresswomen and suffragists. (Madam President, Lane Smith, Hyperion Book CH, 2008)

The People Could Fly, The Picture Book. Although the original, beloved book was published 20 years ago, the 2004 edition has new evocative, vivid images and features only the title story: a magical African people lose their wings when they are shipped to America as slaves. Yet one day the magic is recreated, and the former winged people soar from the plantation to freedom. The New York Times called this book ďA triumph of words, pictures and storytelling.Ē (The People Could Fly, The Picture Book, Virginia Hamilton, Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2004)

Winona LaDuke: Restoring Land and Culture in Native America. The youngest person ever to speak before the United Nations was a 17-year-old Native American girl, Winona LaDuke. After graduating from Harvard, she returned to White Earth Reservation in Minnesota to build schools, combat poverty and ecological destruction, and revive Anishinaabe culture by recovering reservation lands. She helped found the Indigenous Womenís Network, and ran twice for US Vice President.

A Life Like Mine: How Children Live Around the World. Profiles 18 children and explores what life is like for them and other young people in 180 countries. Organized into four sections according to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (Survival, development, protection and participation). It has a bounty of photographs, charts and maps. (A Life Like Mine: How Children Live Around the World, DK Publishing, 2005)

The Global Fund for Children supports community-based education groups around the world. Its publishing arm is Global Fund for Children Books. GFC President Maya Ajmera writes the wonderful photographic books that are about children in many countries. Titles include: Animal Friends, a Global Celebration of Children and Animals; Let the Games Begin (about games and sports kids play in different places); Children from Australia to Zimbabwe; To be an Artist (ways children around the world express themselves artistically) and Be My Neighbor (about communities, with words of wisdom from Fred Rogers). WEbsite:

Mulan is based on a poem written more than a thousand years ago in which a Chinese girl learns that her sick father will be conscripted to fight invading Huns. Knowing he could never survive, she decides to disguise herself and fight in his place. Forbidden to speak directly to any man other than her father, she ends up leading an all-male army and saving the Chinese empire. Produced by Walt Disney as an animated film.


  1. Celebrations, Anabel and Barnabas Kindersley, 1997, Dorling Kindersley
  2. Celebrations around the World, A Multicultural Handbook, Carole S. Agnell, 1996, Fulcrum Publishing
  3. Fiesta Femenina, Celebrating Women in Mexican Folktale, Mary-Joan Gerson and Maya Christina Gonzales, 2001, Barefoot Books
  4. Here Comes Diwali! The Festival of Lights, Meenal Pandya, recipes by Laxmi Jain, Second Edition, MeeRa Publications
  5. Kids Around the World Celebrate! The Best Feasts and Festivals from Many Lands (Kids around the World Series), Lynda Jones, 1999, Wiley