Make Everest for kids fun by sharing books on Himalayan culture + myth (Yaks and Yetis).
What's a good way to explore Everest for kids?
This is something I've been asking myself ever since Money Prodigy was awarded The PLUTUS Foundation grant in order to create + deliver the Mt. Everest Money Simulation Program to kids.
Just like with most anything else in life, I've turned to books.
Why Yaks and Yetis?
Besides the fact that these are possibly the two coolest “y” words in the English language?
Yaks and Yetis both provide a lot of cultural color to Mt. Everest.
Yaks are integral to both Everest expeditions and to the Sherpa people. The trek to Everest + the area where the Sherpa people live is really rugged, so wheels aren't a good option. Yaks provide transportation for things like building materials, trekking gear, sick people, mail, etc. Not only that, but the Sherpa people have incorporated a variety of yak products − yak butter, wool, dung for fuel, meat, yak cheese, etc. − into their everyday lives.
And Yetis? It turns out that they were a protected species until 1958, and one country in the Himalayan region, Bhutan, still has a Yeti sanctuary (the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary). So who are we to say they don't exist?
I'll continue on in creation mode, excitedly piecing together the Mt. Everest Money Simulation (it's gonna be a pretty wild ride!).
But in the meantime, I've curated a list of Yak and Yeti books below (on top of my original list of kid's Everest books) I've personally read to get you + your child excited about this money simulation.
Bonus: Use this list to bring some heat relief during a summer reading program, to enjoy with year-round reading programs for kids, to cultivate your child's imagination, before heading out on a hike or to the rock climbing gym, etc.
Book #1: No Yeti Yet, Mary Ann Fraser
Age Range: 2-5 years
This is a super cute, well-illustrated book about a brother taking his younger sister on a Yeti hunt out in the snow. The younger sister has all kinds of questions for him, and while they traverse the great outdoors, the Yeti follows them around in a charming way.
Your kiddo will have fun pointing that out on every page, despite the characters not realizing it until halfway through the book!
Life Lesson(s): Sometimes what you're looking for is right under your nose…or sledding right behind you.
Book #2: The Thing About Yetis, Vin Vogel
Age Range: 3-5 years
If you're looking for a Yeti that more closely resembles a cute pet than the abominable snowman, then you found it. This little guy just loves winter. He loves hot chocolate (with tons of marshmallows, of course), and ice-skating “Yeti-style”, and all kinds of winter activities.
The secret he has? Well, he also happens to miss summer from time to time.
Life Lesson(s): This is a book about making the most of your current situation, whether that be a season you're getting tired of, or whatever else in life.
Book #3: Are We There, Yeti?, Ashlyn Anstee
Age Range: 3-6 years
This book features a marshmallow-like Yeti who is very friendly, and invites kids along on a bus trip to meet some other very friendly Yetis. The kids and kid-yetis all play together doing things like building snowballs, sledding, and making snow angels (maybe they should be called snow yetis at this point?).
It's got me saying over and over again to my husband, “are you ready, yeti?”
Super cute book.
Life Lesson(s): Some things are worth waiting for!
Book #4: Namaste!, Diana Cohn
Age Range: 3-7 years
Nima, an Everest Guide's daughter, takes your kid into the life of a Sherpa family. Her father works once a year for several weeks at a time, and one of the ways he and his daughter get reacquainted is by telling one another a story each time he returns.
One of the ways she brings joy into the world is by sprightly telling all passersby − even a caravan of yaks and naks (female Yaks) − Namaste, which means, “The light in me meets the light in you.” It's truly an entirely different world, brought alive by very vivid illustrations.
Life Lesson(s): You can bring so much joy to others' lives with simple acts of kindness.
Book #5: Dear Yeti, James Kwan
Age Range: 4-6 years
There are two hikers looking for a Yeti. They leave him short letters for updates on their progress. The cutest thing is, a very empathetic, snuggly Yeti is following them all along. He helps them out by providing food, and is there for them when they meet with a much less friendly grizzly bear.
Life Lesson (s): Friends come in all shapes and sizes.
Book #6: Uncle Bigfoot, George O' Connor
Age Range: 4-8 years
Okay, okay, so not exactly a yeti. But it's an endearing book about a kid who suspects his Uncle Bernie is actually a Bigfoot. After all, he's got hair in lots of places, a big belly, has huge feet and doesn't ever wear shoes (probably sounds like someone we all know in life)!
Life Lesson(s): Don't be too fast to jump to conclusions.
Book #7: Kami and the Yaks, Andrea Stenn Stryer and Bert Dodson
Age Range: 4-8 years
Kami's father and older brother, Norgay, work as Sherpas on Everest expeditions, giving your kiddo an interesting, non-western perspective about the lives of people who make Everest summits possible.
For their next expedition, they go searching for their four yaks in order to load them up for the trek. Unfortunately, they can't find them.
When Kami, who is deaf, uses a whistle to call the yak Curly Horn, I had memories of my own childhood on our farm when we had a specific cow call to round them up for the evening milking.
He ends up saving the day + earning his family's pride and respect.
Life Lesson(s): When you know that someone or something is in real danger, keep trying to tell people until they're ready to listen. Also, you have real value to others, even if you're not like everyone else. Even if you're really young, like Kami!
Book #8: Snowbound Secrets, Virginia Knoll & Nivola Uyá
Age Range: 5+ years
Can I just say how much I love the illustration colors in this book? I look at it and feel calm…which is funny considering there is a big yeti on the cover.
Wait…there's yaks too!
Transport your child to a world completely different from their own — Bhutan — with yak-herding, big brothers teasing their little sisters about yetis getting them, black-necked cranes, and trail-trekking.
Spoiler alert: Pem does not get eaten by the yeti.
Life Lesson(s): Everyone, including yetis, are at heart just trying to raise good children and protect their families. It's something we can all connect with on at a deeper level, no matter if we're hairy monsters, kids living on a mountain in Bhutan, or if we live in Galveston.
Book #9: Tibetan Tales for Little Buddhas, Naomi C. Rose
Age Range: 6-11 years
This is a collection of three wise tales from Tibetan culture, complete with a foreword from the Dalai Lama + actual Tibetan writing along with the translation.
These are timeless tales, and I love that about them. For example, in Yeshi's Luck, Yeshi learns the importance of remaining calm within yourself no matter what happens in the outside world. Other life lessons are below.
Life Lesson(s): Hold tight to your faith, whatever it may be, so that you can remain peaceful in your mind despite what life throws you. Go with the flow. Face your fears with love and kindness, and you will become free to “love and let be.” And in helping others, we almost always help ourselves.
Book #10: The Animals of Asia: Yaks, Willow Clark
Age Range: 7-10 years
Did you know there are both wild yaks and domestic yaks? Wild yaks are brown, and live in Northern India as well as the Tibetan Plateau. Domestic yaks are all kinds of colors, and have been raised by the Tibetan people plus people of Nepal, Bhutan, Mongolia, etc. for thousands of years.
It turns out that the wild yak is considered a vulnerable species, and are extinct already in Nepal as well as Bhutan. They live at an elevation of around 14,800 feet in alpine meadows, alpine steppes, and desert steppes, and can withstand temperatures of -40 degrees Fahrenheit! In fact, because of their wooly hair, they start overheating at around 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Life Lesson(s): This book reads like a kid-friendly textbook, and not necessarily one full of life lessons.
Book #11: Mysteries of Giant Humanlike Creatures, Kathryn Walker
Age Range: 8-11 years
Looking for a fun, monster encyclopedia-type book for your kiddo? This might be it, at least as far as human-looking monsters are concerned. There are about six pages dedicated to the yeti, with some interesting historical information about sightings from a variety of sources + some great photos. You'll even learn why we call the yeti the Abominable Snowman, and how it's a mistranslation.
Life Lesson(s): Not sure that this book necessarily has a life lesson, except to be both skeptical + open-minded when determining if something is true.
Book #12: An Accidental Adventure: We Are Not Eaten by Yaks, C. Alexander London
Age Range: 8-12 years
Walk into the lives of a most interesting family, where the 11-year old twins are addicted to television and think watching it is their birthright, and the parents are uber-adventurists with little regard for what their kids want (which might be why their kids are very against anything doing with adventure!).
Their mother has disappeared, and they head with their father to Tibet to go find her. There's lots of Himalayan adventure, including monks, yaks, yetis, etc.
Someone on Amazon wrote that this book is Indiana Jones meets Lemony Snicket, and I think that's the perfect way to describe what you're getting.
Life Lesson(s): Hmmm…I hate to say it, but the parents need to learn to be better parents, and the kids need to learn how to turn the television off and live life. Some of this plays out in the book with the characters learning from their mistakes, but mainly the reader needs to come up with these lessons by watching this story unfold.
Book #13: The Abominables, Eva Ibbotson
Age Range: 9-12 years
Lady Agatha is whisked away to the Nanvi Dar valley one night by a male yeti from the tent she's sleeping in with her own father. The male yeti has three yeti babies, and no mother to raise them. She immediately realizes this, and gleefully takes on the task of teaching them all things proper (at least in English society). One of the babies even takes a yak for a pet!
Agatha gets worried as more and more tourists come to the Himalayan mountains. Suppose they put her yetis into a zoo? Or make them part of a circus act?
I really like the writing in this book, aside from the very interesting scenarios. Great for expanding the imagination (whether you're a kid or an adult!).
Life Lesson(s): This book really highlights human rights + helping one another out, whether you're human or not.
Book #14: Sammy Feral's Diaries of Weird: Yeti Rescue, Eleanor Hawken
Age Range: 12-17 years
If you're looking for weird, this is it. In a fun way! There's an acid-spitting, Mongolian Death Worm who lost his best friend, Bert, who happens to be Chief Yeti. He ends up finding Sammy Feral, whose family are ex-werewolves and own the crazy Feral Zoo, because they happen to have the last known Wish Frog in existence.
…see what I mean?
Their plan to get the Yeti back? They need to find a yeti to put out a yeti call, which will summon the Ministry of Yetis from around the world, who then will be able to find Bert.
What I like about this book is the humor, and the complete silliness that is accepted as part of Sammy's everyday life.
Note: this is book #2 in a series of books, but I was able to follow along from the beginning without having read book #1 in the series.
Life Lesson(s): I love how everyone's very unique and sometimes strange talents are played out in this book. Your unique talents, and everyone else's have a purpose.
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