"Children and their families deserve to have access to the books of their culture, as well as the majority culture."
This is just one sentence from one of the most eloquent, progressive and noble mission statements on the Internet. It comes from the International Children's Digital Library; the full text of the mission statement can be read here. The library itself contains roughly 4,500 books in 54 languages. There are plenty of English language titles represented in the collection, from picture books through to more complex chapter books. Finding books could not be more simple, as the ICDL has one of the best, most child- and adult-user friendly search interfaces out there.
The mission statement for the ICDL places much emphasis on the primacy of language and one's mother tongue when it comes both to learning in a new culture and to discovering the depth of one's own cultural heritage. While this is certainly true, I would also argue that the works represented in the ICDL go a long way toward teaching cultural diversity through visual literacy. For example, I have no knowledge of Persian or Farsi but just looking at the illustrations in this book gives me a strong sense of Iranian cultural history and the art of visual representation.
So, go now. Read some books or just browse the pictures. Compare a Finnish picture book to one from Serbia. Get lost--in all the right ways. The main search page can be found here.
By the way, Kyla mentioned Tumblebooks and The Capstone Library in the comments section yesterday. These are both excellent eBook resources, but they are licensed databases. If your public or school library does not subscribe to them, you cannot access them. FYI, the New Brunswick Public Library System recently acquired TumbleBooks so if you live where I do, then you and your child can read Tumblebooks from the library's home page. With this advent calendar, I am trying to showcase web resources that are freely available to all. It amazes me that the ICDL remains a free resource and I hope it always will remain so. Should you be looking for a good cause to support this holiday season, I notice the ICDL has a home-page listing of ways that you can contribute whether it be with expertise or money.