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Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Life Like Mine, edited Amanda Rayner. DK, Tourmaline Editions. 2002. $14.99 ages 5 and up

"In this book you will meet children from around the world. Although they seem very different, they all share one goal - they want to lead a good life. In the following pages you'll learn about their lives, thoughts, and hopes for the future."

The statistics are startling:

"There are over six billion people in the world. More than two billion of them are under 18.

More than 210 million children of ages 5-14 work. More than half of those are involved in dangerous work or work full-time.

Nearly 11 million children under five die every year, mostly from preventable diseases."

I wonder if those statistics have changed since 2002 when this book was published?

We begin with the things that children need for survival: water, food, home and health. We take so much for granted and don't think how truly fortunate we are to have what we have. What would we do without faucets...we would get water as so many people do from rivers, lakes, wells, pumps or communal water supplies. Nou, who lives in Laos, has a deep appreciation for safe water. She no longer collects it from a nearby stream, rather from a well in the center of her village.

While we are facing the upswing in childhood obesity and the rise in diagnosed diabetics, many children of the world don't have enough food to survive. Vincent, from Rawanda, takes care of his siblings in the wake of his parents' deaths. He grows bananas and vegetables to help feed them...the one meal a day that they eat.

Housing is as diverse as the people of the world...caves, houseboats, trailers, and moveable homes. Mahasin's family are nomadic cattle herders in the Sudan and move to find grass for their cattle. Nadin, an Israeli, lives in a refugee camp in the West Bank and longs for her family to go back to Malha, where her grandmother once lived.

"More than a billion people have no access to medical care. If you get sick, how long do you have to wait to see a doctor?"

It gives you pause, doesn't it?

Children around the world are the same in many ways...beautiful, hopeful, happy, sad, kind, loving and wanting to grow up in a world where there is an opportunity to learn, play, love and grow.

They need our protection and care. Books like these help children develop empathy and concern for other children of the world. Bravo!

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