Today, September 21, is the day declared by the UN as International Day of Peace. For families and teachers interested in multiculturalism, this is a great day to observe all the ways people around the world are similar, and can come together in the name of peace. Our hopes and dreams for a peaceful world are present all year long, of course. Still, observing International Day of Peace gives us an opportunity to reflect on what being a citizen of the world means, and to celebrate our unique cultures and ways of life.
For preschoolers, there are some fantastic picture books that add to any International Day of Peace unit or celebration. I especially love Karen Katz's Can You Say Peace?. Katz's folk-art inspired illustrations are lively and colorful, a feast for the eyes and the imagination. Each spread features a different nation and teaches how to say peace in that country's language. One page reads "May lives in China. / May says he ping (hey ping)." May's family is shown on the banks of a river, watching boats go by and gazing at the beautiful mountains. May herself is depicted in a colorful kimono, with rosy cheeks and shiny black hair, and the peace she speaks of is reflected in her sweet smile. Can You Say Peace? is one even the youngest toddler can appreciate.