Week-end Book Review ~ What We Wear: Dressing Up Around the World by Maya Ajmera, Elise Hofer Derstine, and Cynthia Pon

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

Maya Ajmera, Elise Hofer Derstine, and Cynthia Pon,
What We Wear: Dressing Up Around the World
A Global Fund for Children Book/Charlesbridge, 2012.

Ages: 4-7

Dressing up means something a little different to everyone, but for children dressing up is always important.  It might mean trying on a parent’s clothes in the back of a closet, putting on a costume for a performance or holiday, painting your face, playing pretend, or wearing a team uniform for a big game.  No matter where, dressing up is special, but the details of dressing up differ considerably depending on the traditions of one’s culture.

Though the outfits vary greatly from place to place, the reasons for dressing up unite us all.  This richly photographed book of smiling children from around the world dressing up in every imaginable way will open windows onto other cultures for children everywhere.  Whether vibrant beads on the head, neck, and shoulders of a Kenyan child or identical navy blue baseball caps on a Japanese team, it is clear that children everywhere delight in dressing up, whatever the occasion.  Captions accompanying the photos suggest the different reasons people wear special clothing and where to find people wearing such garments: folk festivals, cultural events, religious rituals and even school.  A world map highlights the countries the photographed children call home, underscoring the point that dressing up is universal.

Children will recognize the familiar in these pages and will also be delighted to see their counterparts in other countries dressed so differently.  The pictures are likely to inspire a sense of wonder that may lead young children to think about what they share and how they differ from people of other cultures.  The authors also make suggestions for learning more about dressing up all over the world such as going to museums, making masks and costumes on your own, and visiting cultural institutions and festivals.

Expressing one’s self and experiencing one’s culture through clothing is an important part of developing self-identity. This makes What We Wear a perfect book to have on the shelves of a pre-school or primary grade library, inspiring kids to see themselves and children everywhere as part of a global community.

Abigail Sawyer
December 2012

Exciting News from the Global Fund for Children (GFC)!

Monday, August 8th, 2011

Exciting news from The Global Fund for Children (GFC):

We are pleased to announce the release of our new picture puzzle book, I Am Different, by Manjula Padmanabhan, for children aged 3 to 8. Each colorfully illustrated page contains one key difference to discover—an item that’s a different color, a different shape, reversed from left to right, or just asleep when others are awake.

Paired with each picture puzzle is the question “Can you find me?” in one of 16 languages. Children will have fun trying out Hebrew, Arabic, French, Swahili, and American Sign Language. And they may find that “different” is just as nice as “same.”

Kirkus Reviews calls I Am Different “a tour de force. … A substantive, engaging title for multilingual education.”

A portion of the proceeds from the sales of I Am Different and all Global Fund for Children books supports innovative community-based organizations that serve children and youth worldwide.

We have also recently released a new guide to high-quality websites and books that foster diversity learning in children. The guide, Kids Becoming Global Citizens: Resources for Parents and Educators, includes 250 summary annotations of children’s books; over 100 online resources, including lesson plans and activities, interactive games, and multimedia resources; and recommended books for parents and educators. Topics range from diversity in the United States to environmental stewardship, and from global citizenship to religious diversity.

The guide is free and available to the public at http://bookstore.globalfundforchildren.org/index.php/resourceguide. All books and resources were chosen for their overall quality and content and for their positive portrayal of different cultures.

“This guide can help  teach children about a wide range of topics related to diversity and global citizenship,” said Cynthia Pon, director of Global Fund for Children Books. “After scouring the Internet and exploring what the literary community has to offer in terms of diversity education, we hope this guide will provide hours of enjoyment, enrich lesson plans, and encourage thoughtful conversations.”

The guide is authored by Pon and Kelly Swanson Turner, with assistance from Laurel Fiorelli.

To learn more about The Global Fund for Children (GFC) be sure to read PaperTigers’  interview with Maya Ajmera, founder and president of GFC.

Week-end Book Review: Our Grandparents: A Global Album by Maya Ajmera, Sheila Kinkade, Cynthia Pon; Foreword by Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

Maya Ajmera, Sheila Kinkade, Cynthia Pon; Foreword by Archbishop Desmond Tutu,
Our Grandparents: A Global Album
The Global Fund for Children/Charlesbridge Publishing, 2010.

Ages 5-8

Yeye. Babushka. Deda. Oma. What better way to celebrate our common humanity than to honor the love of our grandparents? As Archbishop Desmond Tutu writes, “In our role as elders, we help bridge the present with the past… We make sure that the wisdom of our ancestors is passed on to the next generation.” In Our Grandparents: A Global Album, the authors bridge both cultures and generations by inviting readers to meet grandparents across the world as they bond with their own grandchildren.

Each two-page spread features a simple line of text revealing a universal truth about family, illustrated with photographs of a grandparent and a grandchild from places as diverse as Yemen, Romania, and Peru. Vibrant country-specific photographs stand in lieu of drawn illustrations, transporting the reader to towns, villages, cities, and countryside to experience the diversity of ways grandparents play, learn, love, read and explore with their grandchildren. For example, next to “Grandparents explore the world with us,” we see three photographs: a Japanese grandson on the computer with his grandfather, a young girl in Greenland pushed on a sled by her grandfather, and a grandparent with grandchildren at the zoo in the United States.

Minimal text encourages children to interact with the striking photographs to identify different families’ activities, settings, customs and habits, while absorbing the importance of multigenerational bonding and the special role of grandparents. While the book does not include background information about the countries represented, the richness of the photographs and the questions they trigger provide a perfect springboard for a teacher or library group studying different cultures or places.  The authors’ meticulous attention to cultural diversity within countries, as well as across them, avoids the narrow representation of a country with a single group.  In photographs from the United States, for example, Native Americans feature prominently alongside Italian, African, Asian and mixed race American families.

Each photograph clearly labels the country of origin, and a map at the back of the book shows that “The grandparents and grandchildren in this book come from all over the world.” The authors also offer “Five Things to Do With Your Grandparents,” and part of the proceeds goes to The Global Fund for Children‘s grant-making for community-based projects benefiting children around the world.

Sara Hudson
April 2011