Helping your kids fall in love with books–and the world

Helping your kids fall in love with books--and the world
Written by Jamie Martin of Simple Homeschool

Women sometimes do crazy things when we’re pregnant, wouldn’t you agree?

Between cravings and hormones, our behavior can get a little unpredictable.

Over ten years ago, soon after I found out I was pregnant for the first time, I drove 45 MINUTES just to get to the nearest bookstore. (Steve and I lived in lovely middle of nowhere, Texas back then.)

I happily went in, baby Jonathan in utero, and bought Honey for a Child’s Heart: The Imaginative Use of Books in Family Life by Gladys Hunt. It’s a fabulous title I’ve talked and written about dozens of times since then.

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With lists recommending everything from starter board books to the best chapter books, I was in heaven reading its pages. I highlighted, underlined, and built up a little home library of children’s classics before I ever headed into the delivery room to bring that baby boy home.

I couldn’t wait to help my new little one fall in love with books.

Give Your Child the World4

Fast forward three years to 2007, and we had an unexpected family blossoming under our roof. That first baby arrived right on schedule, but God surprised us by leading us to two other children from the far corners of the earth: Elijah from Liberia and Trishna from India.

I was a new (and definitely overwhelmed) mama, raising global babes (ages 4, 3, and 2) from three different continents. For quite some time we operated in survival mode–and a good day was one in which everyone had eaten, taken a nap, and perhaps read a short picture book together.

But after we began to find our groove, I started to have a new inner question bugging me. We would be an international family forever–how could I teach my kids about the countries that made up our lives?

They weren’t yet old enough to seriously travel, and we couldn’t have afforded that anyway. My search for an answer led me straight back to the bookshelf again.

With the right books in hand, we could read our way around the world. 

Give Your Child the World5

Fast forward several more years, to 2011, and the experiment was working! I did have kids who were beginning to love books and have a fascination with other cultures, people, and places. I wanted to expand the concept, go deeper with it.

Then an idea came:

What about creating a massive reading treasury that combines these two passions–books and the world? A global Honey for a Child’s Heart, so to speak?

I’ve spent the past FOUR years doing exactly that!

Four years researching over a thousand global titles, requesting hundreds from Interlibrary Loan (my sweet, hardworking librarians never complained!), reading nearly all of them myself to choose the absolute best for my own family and yours, and compiling them into reading lists based on country, region, and age range.

The result? My new book, released in 2016: Give Your Child the World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at a Time.

Think of it like an inspired geography curriculum–one that will take your kids all the way from age 4 through age 12, for just the cost of a single paperback!

Pair it with a concept like Little Passports, and you’ve got the inexpensive makings of a world-loving home right there. That really excites me!

2014 Family Photo
The book also shares our family’s unique story, practical ideas (besides the booklists) to help you create a globally-conscious home, and the power of using story to truly give your children the world.

And in an amazing, only God-could-orchestrate-this divine connection, the publisher and editor for this book of mine?

The SAME ones who worked on that title I drove 45 minutes to buy in 2004!

I’m beyond blessed to be partnering with Sandy Vander Zicht and Zondervan, who also helped Gladys Hunt get Honey for a Child’s Heart into all of our hands and on our shelves decades ago.

4 years down, 1 more to go

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This project has taken so long because of all the research involved. (Well, that and the fact that I’m not super-woman!)

Over the next year the book–which contains more than 500 book recommendations at this point–will be revised, edited, and made even more useful for you.

I can’t wait to share more about it, but I’m telling you about it today because I’d love to ask for your help.

3 ways you can get involved

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1. Please send up a prayer.

If it ever looks like I’ve got it all together on this blog, come talk to my family.

They’ll tell you that we’ve eaten a LOT of frozen pizza over the past month as the book deadline loomed large, that I completely lost my temper yesterday, and that I occasionally want to quit even the things that I know are mine to do.

In other words, we’re just a wildly imperfect family trying to live out our mission on this earth, which right now includes this book. So I’d be beyond grateful if you’d send a quick prayer that this book would be divinely inspired to help as many families as possible.

2. Become one of my “supporters.”

Do you feel that my blog or book writing has impacted or changed your family’s life in some way?

If so, would you consider joining my official group of supporters?

This would be VERY low maintenance and not a time commitment at all, but occasionally I might ask for your help in spreading the word on social media or in other small ways.

(And I’ll make sure you’re the first to hear updates or find out about little bonuses, too!)

I’ve created a private Facebook group for supporters, and I’d be so honored to have you there. There won’t be much activity in it yet, but definitely more as the book’s launch approaches next year.

If my writing has touched your life, I’m so blessed and humbled by that. Thank you!


3. Pre-order the book!

Pre-orders show publishers and retailers that there is substantial interest in a title, which goes a long way to making a book successful. So if you’re interested, please go ahead and place your order now!

My hope and prayer is that Give Your Child the World provides you with a resource that helps your family fall more in love with books, the world, and each other. Thanks for letting me introduce you to it today!

“The children should have the joy of living in far lands, in other persons, in other times—a delightful double existence; and this joy they will find, for the most part, in their story books.”
~ Charlotte Mason

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She is the co-founder and editor of Simple Homeschool, where she writes about mindful parenting, intentional education, and the joy found in a pile of books. Jamie is also the author of a handful of titles, including her newest release, Give Your Child the World.


  1. May God bless you and keep you and shine the light of His countenance on you and give your whole family peace as you pursue this endeavor! I’m thrilled to hear the news, and look forward to buying the book just as soon as it’s published. 🙂

  2. So, so, so excited this news is out in the world! Beyond proud of you. xoxo

    PS – J is looking so much like Steve.
    Caroline Starr Rose’s latest post: There is No Schedule

  3. Jenn R. says:

    I am so very happy for you Jamie, and super excited for your book to come out! This sounds like it will be a perfect addition for our history/geography lessons. Thank you for following your passion, and sharing that gift with us. I look forward to buying a copy 🙂

  4. Very exciting news. I love books about books anyway but I have a dual English-Italian heritage I want my son to learn about, family scattered in Italy, Spain and Japan and good friends in New Zealand and Canada. I already share books with my son about Italy but will look forward to your recommendations for that and other countries. Well done and good luck for the final leg to the finish line of publication.

  5. Love this post! I’m not on social media but will spread the word on my blog and can’t wait to buy the book when it comes out!
    Julie’s latest post: four on friday.

  6. Melanie says:

    I have been such a huge fan of your work — both your previous books and both blogs. Words really cannot express how your words have encouraged me as a mama and helped to shape my vision for my family. I am so excited for you to have this book deal, and I’ll look forward to purchasing it as soon as it is available and spreading the word!

  7. Love this Jaimie! So proud of your hard work! This is a passion of mine as well and I’m excited to see your work!
    Johanna’s latest post: March-April 2015 read-alouds

  8. Melissa says:

    Reading this post left me a little teary-eyed-excited! I am so incredibly excited about this book! I will be praying for you over this next year for sure! I have actually followed you for several years now and I feel a special connection cause I have a 9 year old Elijah brought home from West Africa too! ;). We lived overseas for 12/almost 13 years and we love to travel. We are very much a global family!! Thanks so much for being faithful to do the things that are yours to do!

  9. Jennifer says:

    I grew up partly in Indonesia, and was forever changed! I can’t wait for your book! I have three kids (Rachel (4), Thomas (3), and Cecilia (1)), and we moved to Italy for two years when Rachel was 6 months old. Thomas was born in Italy, but the kids were too young to remember very much. Now I just try to work awareness of the world organically into our lives through globes, maps, books, and movies.

  10. I am so excited for you and for us – what a wonderful resource this will be for all families! I have a passion for introducing my children to the world and for creating a global family culture in our home. The way our family has embraced this is to sponsor multiple children through Compassion International. Each of my girls has a “birthday buddy” whom they write to monthly. We have also traveled as a family to meet Orm, one of our sponsored children. And both my husband and I have traveled to other countries to meet other kids we sponsor – and we share the stories and pictures with our girls when we return.

    We have a huge map that hangs in our front room, and as often as possible, we have people from other countries and cultures to our home for dinner. We’ve had Alex from Uganda, Marlennis from Dominican Republic, Ariel from Honduras, Meerko from Germany, and more. And…of course, books!

    Jill Foley – Sydney (age 10), Kayleigh (age 8) – Portland, OR
    Jill Foley’s latest post: May Compassion Joys

  11. This is wonderful! I am currently putting together a geography curriculum for my boys (4 and 6) right now. I wish I could get a hold of this book now .

  12. I am SO excited for you and for this book to be in my home! I have Honey for a Child’s Heart and Honey for a Woman’s Heart and I love your idea. I also gravitate toward the cultural picturebooks and short chapter books ( my kids are 6 & 7), and so I’m thrilled to have this resource as a homeschooler. Can’t wait to see it and use it!
    Sarah M
    Sarah M’s latest post: Subscription Boxes as Homeschool Curriculum

  13. Tasmanian says:

    This is so exciting! My sister gave me Honey for a Child’s Heart when my eldest was a baby. Little did I know I would be homeschooling. I love your blog. We have four kids and two part-time incomes, and live in the far far south of the world, so we are not likely to afford to travel the world. Not literally, but literaturely YES!

  14. Rachel Chaney says:

    Hi Jamie,
    This sounds like a wonderful book! We bring the world into our home primarily through language, food, and books. My husband (who grew up in Spain although he is American) speaks and reads only Spanish to our two kids (Justin, 6 and Rebecca 2.5). We have a home library in both English and Spanish. Once a week, we eat a meal from a different country. And we read lots of books (and can’t wait for more recommendations once your book comes out :)) When the kids are older, we’ll make a bigger deal out of the food, focusing each month on one country and really delving into it. Right now, my 2.5 year old is a picky eater, so we do one simple meal per week, and call it good. We do feel triumphant, though, that her current favorite food is fesenjoon (from Iran!) We lived in Syria for a year before the kids arrived, so whenever we eat Middle Eastern food for our week, we bring out our Syrian tablecloth, etc to make it extra special…Look forward to your book!


  15. I think this book sounds lovely! I’ve been enjoying your words since…a long time ago…maybe the beginning of SteadyMom? Anyway, I’m not on social media, but I’m pretty sure I’ll end up buying a copy, and I’m cheering you on. I don’t have even have a passport, myself, but I don’t want my kids to be limited by my homebody inclinations, and I trust your recommendations 🙂

  16. Kara Anderson says:

    I’m so excited for you Jamie, and I can’t wait to get my hands on what I know is going to be an AMAZING book. Congratulations!!! Thank you for being a continued source of inspiration to me.

  17. OH, Jamie I am so excited for you. I remember sitting in the coffee shop and you telling me about this idea you had for the book. Can’t believe it has been 4 years already. I always love reading your blog and would love to be part of your support group but I am not on Facebook but will send a prayer your way. Say hi to the kids for us!
    Rosemarie’s latest post: sunday smiles

  18. Jamie, your site has been an incredible resource to me as I stumbled around in the dark trying to figure out this whole homeschool journey. I can honestly say I have some sea legs now, and I owe much of it to the information you’ve shared. I can’t tell you how excited I am for the book! It will be hard to wait 🙂 Thank yous, prayers and many blessings! ~L

  19. Wow. I am super excited for your book to come out. I am constantly adding new ideas and books to our geography lessons. My girls are loving missionary stories stories right now. They have such a heart for the world and I hope one day to do more traveling. We frequently run to the large world map on our wall when reading a new story. We also get super excited during world events like the World Cup and Olympics. My girls were born in Colombia so every Family Day we give them a gift from or about that country. Often times it would be a book. We are also blessed to live in a culturally diverse city with lots of restaurants. Several of our friends are also missionaries all over the world. Thank you for creating this resource!
    Penny, mom to Angela (10), Laura (10), Rosa (9)
    Cleveland, Ohio

  20. sarah davis says:

    I’m really excited for this book! I’m always looking for books just like the ones you are describing. Giving our children a global perspective is so important to our family. Sharing stories of what is happening globally with other children encourages them to see beyond themselves– their focus shifts for a moment from looking inward only at their life and gives them glimpses to what “normal” life is like for children around the world. Our two oldest children both write back and forth with girls their same age who live in Uganda. Last year, I finished my training as a midwife in the Philippines and came back home with countless stories about the children and families that I met. Our children spent a few months putting together gifts and packages to send back to the Philippines to our new friends living there. I look forward to the day when my whole family can hop on a plane and visit some of these countries.
    Sarah, mom to Kyla (11), Avery (9), and Zach (5)
    Charlottesville, Virginia

  21. Wow this is incredibly exciting!! I cannot wait to read what you’ve put together. I always find myself blessed and inspired by the words you pen. Praying for you and your family as you head toward the finish line.

  22. Fantastic, Jamie! I’m so excited for you and to read this book. Congratulations and I wish you all the best as you finish up. xoxo
    Nicole’s latest post: Quick Lit~ late spring edition

  23. Jamie, I am so excited about this! As an American living overseas with global nomad kids (11, 9, 5 and 3), I am very interested in equipping them with a wide worldview. Thanks for jumping into this neglected niche and providing us all with a great resource!

  24. What an absolutely wonderful idea! We are a family of readers, and also strive to help our boys have a global view of the world and other cultures. I’m traveling to Kenya this fall on a mission trip. Especially excited to meet our sponsor child. My hope is that this trip is impactful for my entire family. I had started a search for books appropriate for 8 & 10 year old boys, but would welcome any of your thoughts. Again, thank you and much congratulations!

  25. Katrina says:

    You amaze me. No, I don’t think you’re perfect and I know you are human like the rest of us, but I hope to inspire people someday the way you inspire me. I love the way you think about homeschooling and the ideas you share. And I am thrilled for you to write this book. Prayers your way that all goes well for your family in this next exciting chapter of your lives!
    Thanks for all you do!

  26. Natalie Jones says:


    Thank you for sharing your insights, and now compiling this wonderful book. I’m likewise excited to get a copy once you finish it up! From one busy Mama on belhalf of another, I’ve lifted up a prayer for you already and will continue to as the Lord reminds me.

    But I must thank you also for raving about Honey For A Child’s Heart, also. You see, I’ve had it on my shelf since my husband bought it about 9 years ago and that’s where it stayed. Until today. I read this article the day you posted it and thought I ought to look at the book. This morning I read a complete (50 page) book to my kids about the Johnstown, PA flood which was a page-turner. And I remembered how you’ve encouraged us to laugh– and cry — with the books we make friends with. So I allowed myself to get choked up in front if the kids, briefly. (Boy, were they shocked!)

    Anyhow, so this afternoon, I began Honey… and kept wanting to say, “Yes! You’re right!” As she talked about the descriptive language becoming part of our vocabulary, I kept telling her, “Yes, I’ve seen that!” And as I read about teaching our children how to communicate, books help us train both parents’ and childrens’ minds because of their vivid descriptions and imagery, I thought, ” Yes, I just read some incredible descriptions in our read-aloud today!”

    And I’m only halfway through chapter one.

    I’m sad I never picked this up before! But I thought it was little more than a dry book of lists. It didn’t really interest me. But thanks to you, I eagerly picked it up and only put it down so I could give you a great big, “Thank you!”

    And now, knowing a tiny bit more about Honey…, and your passion for it, and knowing your passion for cross-cultural, I am all the more eager to get a hold of your book! It’s going to be fabulous, I’m sure!

    Thank you, Jamie!

    • This is the best thing I’ve read all day, Natalie – love it!

      • Natalie Jones says:

        Aww, thanks. I came back to add I just realized that my edition is really old. So reading the first chapter is like the first 8 pages. 🙂

        By the way, you or your readers might enjoy the book we read today, too. Great historical fiction! It is called,
        The Day It Rained Forever: A Story of the Johnstown Flood by Virginia T. Gross.
        I should add a disclaimer, though. There is one swear word, which I just changed as I read aloud. It fits the book as the teenage boy (not the protagonist, but her brother) is so devastated by the horrors he’s seen that he curses the men who built the dam poorly to save a few bucks — costing thousands of lives. But I also LOVE the dad’s response. Though he hates cursing, he realizes there is a deeper heart issue here — a tragedy that was too much for his son’s emotions to handle. So he picks up his Bible and reads a passage, then prays with his family. I won’t give that part away, but I was impressed with how he handled it!


  27. Sara R. says:

    I am SO looking forward to your book! This is a subject we feel passionately about in our home and “work” on daily.

  28. How exciting! I can’t wait to buy it! It’s really important to me that my kids grow up with not only a global perspective, but God’s heart for the nations. I have an 8 yr old girl and 5 yr old boy (we live in NC.) Next year we will be doing MFW Countries and Cultures. I love how the curriculum leads students to pray for the different peoples they are learning about. My daughter has taken a few classes at our co-op about different countries and she’s always excited when those countries pop up in daily life. We also sponsor 2 kids through Compassion International. Even though this year we’ve spent time on US History, my daughter has really gravitated toward books and stories of native americans and so I know we’re on the right track. Thank you for putting in all the work necessary for such a task. It will be worth it. i’ll be praying for you!

  29. Patrizia says:

    Dear Jamie,
    I’m so thrilled by this next book if yours, and yes I have sent you already a prayer in Hungarian. I’d like to share my family’s story. I’m half Italian, half Hungarian brought up in Budapest. I’m married to my sweet Hungarian husband and we have 4 wonderfull kids, Agoston (11), Emilia (7) and twin brothers Adam and Bence (4). Their education turned out to be the vocation of my life and source to a lot of fun and tears too. we live in Brussels, Belgium in a truly international environment and work both for the European Parliament. My grand father used to tell me “you are as many persons as many languages you speak!” For us being an international family with close relatives in Hugary, Italy but also, US, Mexico, Finland means a lot. On the other hand keeping our Hungarian roots is also a priority. I believe all these can very well live together if you make it happen naturally. I really wanted for them a meaningful education and several languages. The most important tools for me are books, poetry and music in our home, and travel as well as openness to other people and cultures outside the home. we read a lot and I try to select meaningfull literature and then we follow on the themes, for example this year my son read a great classic of Hungarian literature a historical book about ottoman empire and Hungary in the century. (A difficult and long book, so I’m very proud of him). This summer in Hugary we will visit the places of this book. I could go on for ages about this topic 🙂 Anyway I’m looking forward to this new book of yours,
    Cheers from Patrizia

  30. Natasha says:

    Hi Jaime!
    What a great idea! I’m looking forward to reading this work, since we are a global family, living in a not very global village! My kids and I are living near my husband’s home town in Ghana and I’m sure they are living two very different worlds: The world outside our compound, and the world inside our home (augmented with mostly America and English books!) I’m not afraid my kids won’t understand America, they get that culture from me, from books, and from our favorite movies. But I am afraid they won’t understand West Africa since we don’t read any books about it! The only way I’ve been successful in bringing Ghana into our literature is through the Kwaku Anansi stories told to them by Grandma (and repeated by me upon request (though I usually have to take notes during Grandma’s telling and read from them later to get the details right!) I get frustrated at the lack of quality in a lot of the books I find around me here, but if I focus on bringing in the ancient stories, I am never disappointed.
    Good luck with your research!

  31. Katherine says:

    We haven’t done a lot of global learning yet at this point, although we’ve got a large world map up on the wall. Last year my husband and I traveled to Paris, France, and then he also took a separate trip to Israel. Both of those locations made it into our learning, from books about the places, to talking about the different time zones (and how Daddy was getting ready for bed when we were having a snack), to talking about food and art and some of our favorite experiences. My kids can easily recognize the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triumphe now, which I think is cool. It was easy to include those things because we had personal experiences with them, but I’d love to find a way to include those that I myself am not familiar with as well.
    Katherine, kids are ages 5, 4, 2, and 6 months. Currently in New Hampton, Iowa.

  32. Hi Jamie! A friend told me about your love for books: I’m a publisher with Dernier Publishing; we produce Christian books for kids set in three different continents also! Please do take a look: our children in the UK love our books set in Rwanda and Vancouver – maybe your kids might like our books set in England!
    With awe for what you are doing 🙂
    Janet (Wilson)

  33. Hi Jaime,
    I am so very excited about your new book project. So needed!!!
    My husband and I are parents to five kids ranging in age from 19 to 8. Two of our kids were born in Ethiopia, three of them were born into our family. I have at various times homeschooled all five of them (my oldest just finished her freshman year at Macalester College after graduating high school from Scattergood Friends School a small Quaker boarding school and my second eldest just finished his freshman year at Scattergood – the other three 11, 11, and 8 are all still schooled at home). Curating reading material for them has been a big job (one which I would have loved to have had your book to help with!) I found that most of the books which feature people of color as the main character are about civil rights. I have nothing against books about civil rights, we have lots of them and enjoy them, but I don’t want the only way my kids see themselves reflected in books is in struggle and conflict. As my kids moved into chapter books it became even more difficult to find books that featured non-white main characters (animal books to the rescue – my 11 year olds are currently devouring the Warriors books – yay cats!)
    All of this to say that this is a subject near and dear to my heart and I am thrilled that you are putting this resource together. Well done!
    Elkader, Iowa

  34. This sounds like a must-have resource! We lived overseas when our children were young. Our three-year-old retuned speaking Chinese fluently, but we weren’t able to maintain his language skills. Our hope is to spark his and our other children’s curiosity about other cultures through literature.
    Leslie DeJarnette’s latest post: Would you like to touch a jellyfish? Family time at the National Aquarium

  35. Jamie, somehow I missed this post when it was first published, but I am beyond excited for YOU, for this project, and for all God will do in and through this. Just joined your supporter page because your writing has DEFinitely impacted my life! Love to you from the far left-coast! 🙂
    Kari Patterson’s latest post: Jesus took our sp*nks

  36. Sarah McKInney says:

    hi…. We were introduced to honey for a child’s heart and bought it before having children… We are a Christian family who God brought from the UK to America who struggled with infertility, the Lord has blessed us through adoption also…. 4 children adopted from foster care and 2 through international adoption from Uganda. we would be so blessed to utilize this book in our homeschool journey in our multicultural family.

  37. Katie Botezatu says:

    Hello Jamie.
    Personally, I am so excited for your book to come out. Thank you for putting together such a great compilation. My family is a multicultural family. My husband is from Eastern Europe, the Republic of Moldova and I am from the U.S. We met while I was in the Peace Corps and since having kids we have dedicated ourselves to raise globally minded kids. We believe that understanding other cultures is crucial to understanding other cultures. We also believe that the world is full of beautiful people, traditions and languages and we want our children to experience these gifts of the world from a young age. Books are a wonderful way to open discussions when travel is not an option. Thank you once again.


  38. This is so exciting! Just yesterday I grabbed my copy of A Thomas Jefferson Education that you recommended and was excitedly going through the book lists! My dream has always been able to travel with my family for educational purposes too, but alas, we are not lotto winners, so this book is a dream come true for me!! Pre ordering now and joining your support group. June is too far away….can’t wait!!!

  39. Such exciting times for you! I’ll be sure to pre-order and just found the group! Good luck with edits 🙂

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