Monday, December 08, 2008


Today, Zach and I had the pleasure of delving into a new book, If the World Were a Village: A Book about the World's People, written by David J. Smith.

Even adults have trouble grasping the enormity of the population of the entire world as a number and attempting to envision how many that really is, then applying abstract and dehumanized percentages of how many people live where and so forth to that original unimaginable number. I had come across the natural concept of reducing that population number to 100 and then using the percentages as people. So, if the number to imagine was 1%, then 1 person in that 100 would do whatever it was.

This book, I feel, does a particularly nice job of presenting this information to children. It is a larger format, with wonderful illustrations (done by Shelagh Armstrong). The 1st page of the book sets the stage, encouraging us to travel into our mind to the "global village" of 100 people. Then, each 2-page spread in the book covers another topic, including "nationalities," "languages" and so forth, leading up to "the village in the past" and the "village in the future," meaning in this case population growth and issues regarding that. They do, by the way, make a quick note that scientists do disagree with some of the population growth numbers they present.

Zach was really engaged in this book, with wide eyes at the some of the facts presented, though honestly it wasn't new information. It really seemed to speak to him in a language he could grasp though, especially the pages on "air and water" (focus on pollution) and "food" (again, focus on how many in our world go hungry each day).

We use a religious homeschool curriculum and these topics do come up often in the sense of social justice. Honestly what is nice about this book is that it is NOT presented from a Christian perspective, thereby giving it a wider appeal, and allowing of course use in the classroom. It is presented in a quite factual and matter of fact tone, while still engaging the reader into some reflection about the meaning.

For the parent or teacher, there is a nice 2-page spread of suggestions for teaching children about the global village, or world, beyond this book.

In browsing online, I did see this interesting information on the author's website, including further links and activities, including several geared directly towards teachers and parents.

Only note I would make to those of you interested, is that the author is very very concerned about population growth and population control, so if these are issues where you tend to disagree with many scientists, you might want to view the author's website and position before you order the book for your children. I found the information to be emphasized in the book, but I also found it to be presented in a factual rather than a preachy manner for what it's worth.

As I said, we quite enjoyed the book as an addition to expand our core 1 studies for Sonlight, which is titled "Intro to World History." We worked on the Usborne Book of Peoples of the World this morning in our curriculum reading, and this was a very nice adjunct to that.

1 comment:

Luke said...

Sounds like a very informative addition.

I must say, however, that my understanding of observed demographic decline would make it hard for me to buy into the author's over population bent, but I'm always open to hearing the other side [smile].

~Luke