This month I am starting with a country that’s close to my heart: Thailand!
Some of you may already know that my husband and two sons are Thai, and that we will be moving to Thailand at the end of this year (I do go on sometimes- I’m very excited!).
Thailand is a beautiful country in Southeast Asia, often known as ‘The Land of Smiles’. When people mention Thailand they may think of tropical islands, pad thai, frenetic Bangkok, cheeky monkeys, or bamboo huts up in the hills of Chiang Mai. Yet Thailand is so much more than that, and if you take the time to really explore- be that in person or through stories- you can discover both the beauty and strength of the people that live there.
Hush! A Thai Lullaby written by Minfong Ho, illustrated by Holly Meade.
In this gentle, rhyming story, a mother in a rural village tells different animals to be quiet so that her baby can sleep.
This book gives a lovely insight into some of the animals that live in Thailand, like monkeys, buffalo and geckos. Children can also enjoy the sounds that the animals make, which are different to how they would be described in western culture. Did you know mice say ‘jeed-jeed’, frogs say ‘op-op’ and elephants say ‘hoom-pra!’?
The illustrations use collage, texture and simple lines to beautifully depict a traditional bamboo house and the surrounding land.
It can be interesting for children to see how families in Thailand live in ways that may be different to their own. However, this is a story which every child and parent can also relate to; the universal experience of settling a baby to sleep.
This is the book to read with 2 – 5 year olds as you snuggle in bed together.
The Day of the Elephant Written by Barbara Ker Wilson, Illustrated by Frané Lessac.
This story is set on the coast of southern Thailand, beside the Andaman Sea. It is inspired by reports of people being rescued by elephants during the 2004 tsunami.
A young girl named Solada and her friends are looking forward to an elephant named Mae Jabu and her mahout visiting their village. However, Mae Jabu is not her usual self. What could be wrong?
When a tsunami begins rushing towards the beach, Mae Jabu lifts the children onto her back using her trunk and together with the mahout, they flee to higher ground.
The illustrations for this book are vibrant; using paint to illustrate the people, animals and landscape of southern Thailand.
The Day of the Elephant is a story of survival, with an elephant using her ‘sixth sense’ to save a group of children.
Recommended for children aged 4 years and above.
The Umbrella Queen Written by Shirin Yim Bridges, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo.
This is the beautiful tale of a girl who finds a way to express herself.
In a small village in the hills of northern Thailand, the women and girls make and paint umbrellas.
Noot is finally old enough to join them. Her mother teaches her how to paint flowers and butterflies, but Noot wants to paint her own designs.
Her family say she needs to paint the traditional designs, as the umbrellas are the family’s livelihood. So Noot paints from her heart on miniature umbrellas instead.
Each New Year’s Day there is a parade, and the King selects the person with the most beautiful umbrella to be the Umbrella Queen. Who will he choose this year?
The gorgeous illustrations in this book depict life in a village; with families, little huts beside a river, and the process of making umbrellas.
It is an inspiring story of respecting tradition but also following your own heart.
Recommended for ages 4 – 8.
Thai Decorative Designs by Marty Noble
I have a confession to make: I bought this colouring-in book a while ago for my son, but I’m so in love with the pictures I want to keep it! So I just scan and print the pages for him to colour in instead.
The images are intricate, traditional Thai designs often found in murals, textiles, wood carvings and other sources. This style lends itself really well to colouring-in with such fine details and patterns. Under each picture is some information about the image and its history.
This book is a great way to learn about traditional Thai art while having a bit of colouring therapy (that’s a thing now, right?!).
Recommended for ages 4 to 104.