If America Were a Village: A Book about the People of the United States

Overview

America, with all its diversity, is not easily defined. David J. Smith's If America Were a Village takes a snapshot - past, present and future - to help define America for children. Using the same successful metaphor of the international bestseller If the World Were a Village, the book shrinks down America to a village of 100. The metaphor helps children easily understand American ethnic origins, religions, family profiles, occupations, wealth, belongings and more. Shelagh Armstrong's expansive illustrations ...
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Overview

America, with all its diversity, is not easily defined. David J. Smith's If America Were a Village takes a snapshot - past, present and future - to help define America for children. Using the same successful metaphor of the international bestseller If the World Were a Village, the book shrinks down America to a village of 100. The metaphor helps children easily understand American ethnic origins, religions, family profiles, occupations, wealth, belongings and more. Shelagh Armstrong's expansive illustrations imagine America as a classic, vibrant small town. Who are the people living in this vast and varied nation? Where did they come from? What are they like today? How do they compare with people in other countries? The book's simple statistical analysis provides a new way of learning about where people live in America, the state of their health, the shapes and sizes of families, what they use and more - forming a concise picture of a country. If America Were a Village is part of CitizenKid: A collection of books that inform children about the world and inspire them to be better global citizens.
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Editorial Reviews

Booklist
A whole new way to think about our country.
From the Publisher
The premise isn’t new, but it’s never been used to better effect for deepening the understanding that children have about the 306 million (and counting) other people with whom they share this land.

A whole new way to think about our country.

Publishers Weekly
This timely follow-up to If the World Were a Village offers a thought-provoking perspective on the people who make up America. Organized by overarching questions such as “Where do we come from?” and “What do we use?” the text illustrates the ethnic divisions, income levels and material consumption (among othercategories) of Americans—were America a theoretical village containing only 100 people. In a section on religion, bullet-points demonstrate the breakdown of religious persuasions within America—“82 consider themselves Christians... 2 are Buddhists... 1 is Jewish”—followed by a comparison with the “whole world” (if it were a village). Armstrong’s cheerful, smudgy paintings balance the text’s heaviness, and an afterword directed at adult readers provides suggestions for imparting the important but complex message to children. Ages 8–12. (Aug.)
Children's Literature - Hazel Buys
A village of 100 persons is used as a metaphor for describing the population of the United States, reducing to a manageable concept the huge diversity represented by citizens of this country. This context provides a setting for presenting the demographics of the current population and its origins, including foreign vs. native-born, races, and languages spoken. The brief text in each chapter is supported and expanded by colorful, descriptive acrylic paintings that add visual richness. Each chapter asks a question such as "Where do we live?" and "What do we do?" that, taken together, express the character and diversity of the American people. Following the last chapter, the author presents a two-page essay titled "Helping our children understand America," followed by a note on sources both in print and on the internet. This book is one of the "CitizenKid" collection and would be a good resource in a middle school library or class on American history or sociology. Reviewer: Hazel Buys
School Library Journal
Gr 2–6—As in If the World Were a Village, Smith and Armstrong help children understand large statistical numbers by collapsing the U.S. population of 300 million down to a village of 100. For example, "82 people in our village speak English as their first language, 10 speak Spanish. 1 speaks Chinese, 1 French and 1 German." Other languages that represent less than one whole person are also mentioned. Topics explored include family make-up, religions, jobs, ages, wealth, items owned, energy and water use, and health. Comparisons are sometimes made with historical data to show change and with worldwide numbers for contrast. Lively, cheerful acrylic paintings depict the diversity of our country in a somewhat idealized manner that suits the all-inclusive tone of the book. While the concept is successful in making huge numbers more comprehensible, statistics are known to be slippery, and attempts to classify people by race and ethnic and cultural groups are not always straightforward. Does the term "Hispanic" identify a distinct group? Some say yes, others no; Smith identifies the village as having 75 white members, 12 black, 4 Asian, 1 Native American, and 8 who consider themselves "members of some other race or of mixed race," noting that he's including Hispanics with whites. While readers may or may not agree with Smith's interpretations of the figures, he lists extensive bibliographic resources and provides suggestions for ways to engage children in considering their country and its place in the larger world. At the very least, the book will provoke discussion; ideally, it will inspire deeper thought and consideration of "what distinguishes America from other countries andAmericans from other people."—Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA
Kirkus Reviews
Smith and Armstrong follow up If the World Were a Village (2002) with a similarly eye-opening portrait of the United States as a "village" of 100 people (roughly one per 3,000,000). Paired to impressionistic street and crowd scenes viewed, generally, from a high angle, the simplified statistics encapsulate our ethnic origins, family structures, religions, energy use, occupations, health and wealth in easy-to-understand units: "82 people in our village speak English as their first language. 10 speak Spanish. 1 speaks Chinese, 1 French and 1 German." Using this methodology, the author tracks historical changes in many categories, shovels data into his narrative in different ways to stave off monotony, often lays out comparisons with other countries or the rest of the world and even offers occasional discussions of what the numbers signify or reveal. A solid source list lends authority to his rounded-off numbers. The premise isn't new, but it's never been used to better effect for deepening the understanding that children have about the 306 million (and counting) other people with whom they share this land. (Informational picture book. 8-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781554533442
  • Publisher: Kids Can Press, Limited
  • Publication date: 8/28/2009
  • Series: CitizenKid Series
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 258,227
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 990L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 12.20 (h) x 0.50 (d)

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