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If the World Were a Village: A Book About the World’s People

by David Smith; illustrated by Shelagh ArmstrongKid’s Can Press; $15.95

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This beautifully illustrated children’s book presents statistics in a uniquely child-friendly way. It condenses the world’s population into an imaginary village of 100 people and then addresses different aspects of life within this global village—always in accessible, human terms.
For example:
• 61 people are from Asia.
• 25 do not have easy access to safe water.
• 17 of those old enough to read are illiterate.
• The richest 20 people have more than $9,000 a year, and the poorest have less than $360, with the average cost of basic necessities being $4,000 to $5,000 per year. (If money were distributed evenly, each person would have more than enough to provide for his or her needs.)
• 76 have electricity, but most use it only at night.
• There are 14 telephones and seven computers.
The book also talks about projected population growth and the need for responsible use of resources. It’s recommended for kids aged seven to twelve, but with paraphrasing, my four-year-old loves it.
I’ve found that by second grade, even with the diversity in our area, kids latch on to a definition of what’s “normal” and begin to apply it (whether innocently or cruelly) to their peers. I hope that exposure to the sort of information provided in this book might expand children’s perspectives and ease—even if only a little—feelings of alienation or self-consciousness about difference. If the World Were a Village also validates the origins of children adopted transracially and shows that their race is by no means “different” in the big picture.
Jennifer Hill is mother to two children adopted internationally. This review originally appeared in the Winter 2003 issue of Forever Families newsletter.

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