Friends of the Truckee Library: Cross cultural reality check
March 24, 2010
With more than 6 billion people on this planet, itand#8217;s difficult to grasp what it really means. But what if we picture the world as global village of just 100 people? That is what David J. Smith has done with one of my favorite non-fiction picture books, and#8220;If the World Were a Village: A Book About the Worldand#8217;s People.and#8221; In this village, 22 people speak with a Chinese dialect, 20 earn less than a dollar a day, 17 cannot read or write, 60 are always hungry, 24 have a television in their homes, and only seven own a computer. Smithand#8217;s book details who we are, how we live, how fast we are growing, what languages we speak, what religions we practice and more, for audiences of all ages.
Other great books that provide a global perspective and cross-cultural reality check to children (of all ages) available at the Truckee Library include and#8220;Material World: A Global Family Portrait,and#8221; and#8220;What the World Eatsand#8221; and and#8220;Children Just Like Me.and#8221;
and#8220;Material Worldand#8221; provides a fascinating look at the material possessions of families throughout the world. Sixteen of the worldand#8217;s foremost photographers traveled to 30 nations around the globe to live for a week with families that are statistically average for that nation. At the end of each visit, the families agreed to have the photographers move the contents of their houses outside in order to create visible representations of their relative standards of living. The dirt house and few possessions of Mali residents contrast with the four cars, 45-foot long sofa, and 12-plus oriental carpets lined up outside the luxury home of a family from Kuwait. Each chapter includes the original spread of possessions, statistics about each family and country, as well as further pictures of daily life and some observations by the photographer. and#8220;Material Worldand#8221; puts a human face on the issues of population, environment, social justice and consumption. While this book was first published 15 years ago, and poses the question of whether all 5 billion of us can have all the things we want, its message resonates even more today. I had to buy a personal copy for my material world. (Sadly, my book collection alone would preclude my family from being anywhere near and#8220;statistically average.and#8221;)
Ten years later, the same photographer, Peter Menzel and author-journalist Faith Dand#8217;Alusio produced the similar works of and#8220;What the World Eatsand#8221; (childrenand#8217;s version) and and#8220;Hungry Planetand#8221; (adult version). The authors visited 25 families in 21 countries to observe and photograph what they eat during the course of one week. The foods dished up ranged from hunted seal and spit-roasted guinea pig to U.N.-rationed grains and gallons of Coca-Cola. Among the families, we meet the Mellanders, a German household of five who enjoy cinnamon rolls, chocolate croissants, and beef roulades, and whose weekly food expenses amount to $500. We also encounter the Natomos of Mali, a family of one husband, his two wives, and their nine children, whose corn and millet-based diet costs $26.39 weekly. And yes, I had to add this book to my personal collection as well.
and#8220;Children Just Like Meand#8221; was published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of UNICEF, and was designed specifically for a younger audience. Barnabas and Anabel Kindersley (of DK publishing fame), traveled to more than 30 countries, meeting and interviewing children. Each of the featured children is introduced in a double-page spread of the book, along with extraordinary photographs that bring to life the childrenand#8217;s families and homes, their clothes and food, their friends and favorite games, and other aspects of their daily lives. There are children from both industrialized and developing nations, children from busy cities and remote rural communities, and children from tribal cultures.
While we are all extremely fortunate to be living and/or raising our children in one of the most beautiful places on earth, itand#8217;s always good to get a glimpse of how the rest of the world lives. Check out these and other titles like them at the Truckee Library, your window to the rest of the worldand#8230;