About Doors to the World

What is Doors to the World?

Doors to the World is a partnership of educators supporting teachers’ use of global children’s literature to develop children’s critical multiliteracies (Cope & Kalantzis, 2013). Multiliteracies start with the idea that children have a wide variety of ways they speak, write, read, listen, create, and observe within their families and communities. The practices associated with multiliteracies build on and expand the ways children already communicate and seek to deepen children’s understanding of their worlds and of themselves.  


The metaphors of mirrors, windows and doors (Sims, 1990; Botelho & Rudman, 2009) have a long association with children’s literature. Children’s books can serve as mirror reflections of readers’ identities and lived experiences. They can also function as windows giving panoramic views of other people’s socio-cultural circumstances. Through imagination books can become doors that allow children to be part of the world created by the text’s words and images, expanding their view of the world. Critical engagement with global children’s literature can transform readers’ lives because of the potential of the interaction between the reader and the text to affirm, diversify and recast their social experiences within a global context.


To help teachers provide such critical global engagement experiences for their students, the Doors to the World website offers accessible resources that teachers can use to expand their students’ experiences with books. Global competency in young children is not just about what to read, but also about how to read. Global competency refers to an appreciation and understanding of cultural and linguistic diversity within an international context. Doors to the World offers teachers resources to promote global competency and critical multiliteracies through critical multimodal engagement with culture as represented in children’s literature.


How We Selected the Picture Books

This is a work-in-progress collection of books and multimodal activities as we strive for balanced geographical representation and to meet the criteria listed below. We invite you to contact us with your feedback and suggestions!

To assemble the books recommended on this website, we sought books that:

  • Appeal to preK- grade 3 children through relevant storylines and themes

  • Offer possibilities of mirrors, windows, and doors through realistic fiction and other genres

  • Depict cultural communities respectfully

  • Represent a variety of places and cultures around the world (including the United States)

  • Highlight a variety of cultural themes

  • Portray rich contexts and demonstrate the ways that places and contexts shape how people live and how people shape the places and contexts where they live

  • Feature a balance of female and male protagonists

  • Represent a range of artistic media that can enhance large group story time and/or be analyzed through Visual Thinking Strategies which support visual and critical thinking and inquiry skills

  • Can be used for multiple purposes across the curriculum

We also considered the ways that books are recognized by regional, national, international, and culturally-specific book awards or are featured on book lists. We considered front and back matter of the books, for example, explanatory author’s and illustrator’s notes. We included some books we liked that are out of print, as they are easily available through online vendors.