I dare you to pick up this book and resist devouring it. Everyone looking for resources to instill in children a greater awareness and appreciation of the world’s diversity will want to add Children of the World to their library.
Photographers Anthony Asael and Stephanie Rabemiafara have compiled a vibrant collection of photos, along with children’s artwork and poetry, to show how people feel about their native land. From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, the world beckons from the colorful pages of this inspiring, accessible nonfiction book. It’s a breeze to use, thanks to the table of contents and a page pinpointing the features readers will find on each of the 192 UN nations included. Mr. Asael and Ms. Rabemiafara have wisely chosen to focus on simple, essential aspects of the nations: language(s) spoken, popular foods, and favorite sports or activities. Following the profiles are statistics from Unicef’s State of the World’s Children reports, credits, and a sprinkling of children’s artwork.
Arranged alphabetically, each nation, identified by continent and with a map, stars in its own bright double-spread. The left-hand page features artwork by a local child, a poem in another child’s own language and handwriting, and the English translation of that poem. On the right is a full-page photograph of a child or children in their environment.The photographs, taken from various angles and times of day, range from stunning close-ups to lively group shots that capture a specific locale.
One of the many impressive aspects of Children of the World is the care the compilers took to combine their photos with the children’s artwork in ways that enhance our appreciation of a culture. Take, for instance, the spread on Kuwait. We learn natives of this Middle-East nation speak Arabic and English, that they eat many different rice dishes and drink laban, a yogurt-based drink, and that they play soccer and water sports. A nine-year-old’s poem called “The Smile of Kuwait” tells of the children who “are the flowers of its garden … the enemies of guns … [who] refuse to see in our fields the light of fire… . How can we accept to see birds’ nests destroyed in our homeland?” Flame-colored markers in a seven-year’s artwork showcase three brightly veiled females, the youngest of whom appears ready to play a game of hopscotch. On the right, we see a photo of a radiant smiling girl, her black hair adorned with a twinkling lattice of golden circles, rectangles, and flowers.
In gazing at such sweet faces, children will no doubt sense the similarities and differences among us. This, in fact, is a goal of the compilers, who seek to cultivate “cross-cultural understanding and to empower a sense of global citizenship” with their not-for-profit organization Art in All of Us, which the book’s proceeds will support.
Perfect for one-on-one sharing or for a boatload of elementary-school curricular units, Children of the World shines with hope and creativity. Pick it up, and it will reciprocate.
And for older children, ages 8-12:
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