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Monday, July 4, 2011

If The World Were a Village, written by David J. Smith and illustrated by Shelagh Armstrong. Kids Can, 2011. $19.95 ages 8 and up

"While the number of children in the global village is shrinking, the number of elderly is growing. A hundred years ago, there were only 8 people over the age of 65 in the village of that time, but by 2050 there may be as many as 16."

This second edition of If the World Were a Village has updated the information from the first and added new content. When I read the first one in 2002 I was fascinated by the design and by this unique look at our world. So many things that David J Smith included I had never considered, or seen presented in such a straightforward way. I read it again and again, and shared it with many.

We imagine a global village with 100 people in it, each representing 69 million people (that is just scary in itself, isn't it?). There are fourteen chapters and they deal with such topics as nationality, age, language, food and health.  I like the way he sets his information to make it accessible to his readers:

"Of the 100 people in the global village:

61 are from Asia
14 are from Africa
11 are from Europe
8 are from South America, Central America (including Mexico) and the Caribbean
5 are from Canada and the United States
1 is from Oceania (an area that includes Australia, New Zealand and the Islands of the south, west and central Pacific).

Does that make you feel like a small ripple in a big pond? It made me feel that way. The other that helps to put things in perspective is that the richest 10 people in the village have 85% of the wealth, while many cannot afford their most basic needs. Oh, and our population has tripled in the past 110 years. What are we going to do with all these people if this trend continues and how will serious is that for the future? By 2150 we will have outgrown ourselves...and there is likely to be serious shortages in food, places to live and resources.

Doesn't that make you think? It will help our children realize that most of the world does not live as we do.

There are many ideas in the 'Teaching children about the global village' at the back of the book. Kids need to have a perception of the world as a whole, and using a world map can help them see the many places where news is happening, where books are set, where families have travelled. Find a sister community, write to other children in the world, have geography bees, and ask some tough questions about people in other parts of the world who are not as fortunate as we are. We all play a part:

"Make sure children see your love of maps and travel, your interest in news from other parts of the world and your curiosity about other people, cultures and languages. They may not follow your particular passion, but they will learn what it means to care deeply about something."

I like the 'bird's eye view' pastel illustrations. They are boldly colored and detailed, providing children an invitation to take the time to really look at what they represent.

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