The Most Popular Children’s Books From Every Country In The World

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If you read in English, chances are that there are a few countries that take up the vast majority of your reading. Only 2–4% of books published in English are translated, and even books published in English in countries other than the U.S. and UK often don’t get picked up and publicized in the same way that U.S. American works do.

This is even more pronounced when it comes to children’s books, where the same books top the charts year after year. Parents tend to buy and read to their kids the same books their parents bought and read to them. If you want to branch out, though, and discover children’s books published all across the world, here’s a great place to start!

TheToyZone has gathered up the most popular children’s books from each country and put them into these gorgeous graphics. You can scroll to the end for an interactive table with every pick!

The did this by first looking at the top 20 children’s books published by authors from each country (by number of Goodreads user ratings), then picking the book with the highest average rating.

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Under each continent, I’ve listed the books available in English, but the full list can be found at the end of the post.

North America

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As a Canadian, Love You Forever isn’t a surprise, but I wasn’t expecting Wonder to take the very top spot for the U.S.!

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Most Popular Children’s Books in North America Available in English

United States: Wonder by R.J. PalacioGrenada: Ay Ya Yai Ivan: A Musical Play About Hurricane Ivan by Richardo Keens-DouglasMexico: Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’oHaiti: The Last Mapou by Edwidge DanticatCanada: Love You Forever by Robert MunschGuatemala: The Two of Them by AlikiEl Salvador / Honduras: A Movie in My Pillow by Jorge ArguetaAntigua and Barbuda: Summertime Fun by Darlene Beazer-ParkerBarbados: Bajan Baby What Do You See? by Mrs. Terry-Ann M HopkinJamaica: Oxford Literary Web [Set] by Julia Donaldson, Pratima Mitchell, Pamela MordecaiSaint Lucia: Ti Koko and Kush Kush by Patricia G. TurnbullTrinidad and Tobago: Chronicles of Coryn: 7 Days of Fun by Coryn Anaya ClarkeBahamas: Black Girl Magic: A Book About Loving Yourself Just the Way You Are by Zahra Bryan

Note: Junot Diaz has been left off this list for sexual misconduct allegations.

South America

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The most popular children’s book on the continent is Chile’s Papelucho by Marcela Paz, with 111 Goodreads ratings, though there is sadly no English translation!

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Most Popular Children’s Books in South America Available in English

Bolivia: Petey by by Ben MikaelsenGuyana: Boyhood Days: Book 2 by Dennis E. AdonisBrazil: Nina Bonita by Ana Maria MachadoSuriname: Red-Beans and Rice: An Anansi Story by Ismene Krishnadath and Gerold Slijngard

Europe

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If you haven’t checked out France’s Press Here, it’s a fun interactive picture book that inspired many other picture books in the same style!

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Most Popular Children’s Books in Europe Available in English

Ireland: Kingdom of the Wicked by Derek LandyRussia: Alice: The Girl From Earth by Kir BulychevSweden: Pancakes for Findus by Sven NordqvistNorway: Astrid the Unstoppable by Maria ParrDenmark: Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen by Hans Christian AndersenPoland: Run, Boy, Run by Uri OrlevItaly: Telephone Tales by Gianni RodariSwitzerland: Heidi by Johanna SpyriCzech Republic: This is San Francisco by Miroslav SasekFrance: Press Here by Hervé TulletNetherlands: A Color of His Own by Leo LionniGermany: Momo by Michael EndeHungary: Answer Nicely When You’re Asked! by Éva Janikovszky and László RéberFinland: Who Will Comfort Toffle? by Tove Jansson

Note: Harry Potter has been left off this list for JK Rowling’s transphobic comments.

Africa

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Okay, “every country” was an exaggeration: there isn’t enough information for some countries, especially — as you can see — in Africa.

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Most Popular Children’s Books in Africa Available in English

Nigeria: Akata Warrior by Nnedi OkoraforMalawi: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Young Readers Edition by William Kamkwamba and Bryan MealerZimbabwe: Fire Storm by Lauren St. JohnRwanda: Her Own Two Feet: A Rwandan Girl’s Brave Fight to Walk by Meredith Davis and Rebeka UwitonzeSouth Africa: The Land of Green Ginger by Noel LangleyNamibia: When You Dance with the Crocodile by Erna MullerUganda: Moses and the School Farm by Barbara KimenyeEritrea: Hoping for a Home After El Salvador by Linda BarghoornKenya: Nyambugi and the Ogre by Muthoni LikimaniGabon: Taiwan: Lisa Lin’s Painting “Making Mooncakes” by Jacquiline Touba and Barbara GlasserBenin: The Beautiful Debo by Béatrice Lalinon GbadoZambia: E Is for E-Waste by Ellen Banda-AakuEthiopia: The Ethiop’s Scrolls I: The Othering, Xolisa and Asinara by Michael Daniel AmbatchewGhana: Meliga’s Day (Opon Ifa Series #2) by Meshack Asare

The Middle East and Central Asia

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Unfortunately, not a lot of these have been translated to English, which just shows how little makes its way over to the USA market from around the world: even many of the most popular books have never been translated. Still, you can show demand for these books by buying the ones that are available!

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Most Popular Children’s Books in the Middle East and Central Asia Available in English

Kazakhstan: Orange and Blue: The World of Barzu by Marina AbramsAfghanistan: The Wisdom of Ahmad Shah: An Afghan Legend by Palwasha Bazger SalamIsrael: Ooh-la-la: Max in Love by Maira KalmanIran: One Peach, A Thousand Peaches by Samad BehrangiPalestine/Jordan: Who Hid the Eid Lamb? by Taghreed Najjar and Manal Haddadin

The Rest of Asia and Oceania

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If you’re intrigued by the idea of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon meets the Ice Capades meets Mean Girls, then you have to pick up Taiwan’s Peasprout Chen series, about a student studying martial arts figure skating!

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Most Popular Children’s Books in the Rest of Asian and Oceania Available in English

Thailand: The Elven Ambassador by Pieretta DawnTaiwan: Peasprout Chen: Battle of Champions by Henry LienMyanmar: The Ghost City: A Graphic Novel by ဝလုံးAustralia: Then by Morris GleitzmanSingapore: The Diary of Amos Lee: Lights, Camera, Superstar! by Adeline FooMalaysia: Diary of a Basketball Hero by Shamini FlintBhutan: Membar Tsho – The Flaming Lake by Kunzang ChodenChina: Seven Blind Mice by Ed YoungSouth Korea: Cloud Bread by Baek Hee NaVietnam: A Different Pond by Bao PhiNew Zealand: Slinky Malinki by Lynley DoddJapan: A Mother for Choco by Keiko KaszaPhilippines: Is it a Mermaid? by Candy Gourlay

Want to look at all of the books at once? Play with this interactive table! You can sort by publication date, rating, country, and more!

Thanks to TheToyZone for all of these images and the research!

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