Our World of Water: Children and Water Around the World


Wherever we live in this world—whether our country is rich or poor—water is vital to our survival on this planet. This book follows the daily lives of children in Peru,Mauritania, the United States, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, and Tajikistan, and explores what water means to them.Where does it come from? How do they use it?

With the growing threat of climate change affecting all our lives, this book invites discussion on the ways different countries and cultures value this most ...

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Wherever we live in this world—whether our country is rich or poor—water is vital to our survival on this planet. This book follows the daily lives of children in Peru,Mauritania, the United States, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, and Tajikistan, and explores what water means to them.Where does it come from? How do they use it?

With the growing threat of climate change affecting all our lives, this book invites discussion on the ways different countries and cultures value this most precious of our planet’s natural resources.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“North American readers will come away with a greater appreciation for a substance they’ve likely not thought much about and the role it plays in children’s lives across the globe.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Published in association with Oxfam, this nicely designed book describes the way children in six countries use water in their daily lives.”—Booklist

Children's Literature - Margaret Orto
Six children from around the world tell about family life and customs in their country while noting how important water is in their daily lives. All types of environments and climates are covered in these stories from Peru, the USA, Mauritania, Ethiopia, Tajikistan, and Bangladesh. Alternating chapters from a boy and a girl all around the age of eight reveal a families' use of water for cooking, bathing, laundry, recreation, animal tending, and religious rituals. A child's schooling, daily chores, and a special holiday or activity are also noted. The numerous photographs offer additional understanding of each child's life and environment. American children will be surprised to learn that many families around the world do not have running water inside their home and if they do, it is most likely only cold water. As revealed here, water collection is often a child's first job. Poignant pull-out quotes from these children about the importance of water include "Water is another name for life" from Saran in Bangladesh and "When there is no water, I wish for water" from Gamachu in Ethiopia. A glossary of terms from each country is helpful, as is an "About the Countries" page at the back of the book. An introductory map includes photographs of the children and where they live. A "What to Know About Water" page offers some astonishing and wide-ranging facts, including that the first major water storage reservoir was built in 450 B.C.E. in South America and that a tap that drips once a second can waste a gallon of water a day. This book simply and beautifully conveys the need for water everywhere by everyone, as well as how essential water conservation and maintenance of a clean water supply isto human survival and the planet's future. Reviewer: Margaret Orto
School Library Journal
Gr 3–5—Seven- and eight-year-olds share what water means to them by revealing their everyday uses of it. An opening spread introduces the children and their countries—Peru, Ethiopia, Mauritania, Tajikistan, Bangladesh, and the United States—on an outline world map. Locations vary from mountaintop to seaside and from scarcity to abundance. The youngsters describe their many water-related routines, such as hygiene, plant and animal care, and play, and include quotes from the youngsters. A third spread for each child is devoted to a special day, which might be a family outing or a holiday celebration. There is no order to the countries and the text is matter-of-fact, leaving readers to draw their own conclusions about the subjects' varying circumstances. Several full-color, captioned photos appear on each spread. Closing matter includes general information about water and the countries. Questions will inevitably arise from this revealing look at the status of water in the world. Accompany it with Rochelle Strauss's One Well: The Story of Water on Earth (Kids Can, 2007) for more detail.—Carol S. Surges, McKinley Elementary School, Wauwatosa, WI
Kirkus Reviews
Six children from around the world-Lucas (the mountains of Peru), Khadija (the coast of Mauritania), Dahlys (suburban Los Angeles), Saran (northern Bangladesh), Gamachu (southern Ethiopia) and Barfimoh (Tajikistan, near the Afghan border)-introduce themselves and their relationships with water in this engaging photo-essay. The simple narrative is punctuated by the children's voices, rendered in a faux-block-printing typeface, with observations both poignant (Khadija: "If I spoil water by making it dirty, my mother will be very cross with me") and eye-openingly mundane (Saran: "I use four mugs of water for my morning wash, and one mug in the afternoon and evening"). Four pages of general lifestyle overview for each child are followed by a two-page spread describing a "special day" that features water. While the book's mission (a portion of the royalties goes to Oxfam) is never far from view, the message is nevertheless lightly delivered. North American readers will come away with a greater appreciation for a substance they've likely not thought much about and the role it plays in children's lives across the globe. (Nonfiction. 5-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805089417
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
  • Publication date: 9/1/2009
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 278,705
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 890L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 11.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

BEATRICE HOLLYER has been a writer and traveler all her life. As a television reporter and newscaster, she covered conflicts in the Gulf, the Middle East, South Africa, and the former Yugoslavia, and reported from Europe and the United States. She was born in South Africa and has been living in London, England, for the past twenty years.

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Read an Excerpt

Foreword by Zadie SmithA Book about Water?

This book is about water.

For many people in the developed world, water doesn’t seem a very interesting topic. It’s everywhere—so obvious and so simple! It flows from our taps into our glasses, into our cooking pots and kettles. It’s in our sinks, our baths, our toilets. We don’t have to walk very far. We certainly don’t have to carry it anywhere. It’s in the kitchen, in the bathroom, in a hose in our gardens. Sometimes we even leave it running while we do something else. Some of us have even flushed our toilets to get rid of a single tissue that we couldn’t be bothered to put in the trash. When we do things like this we think: Well, it’s only water. Just turn on the tap and there it is!

We forget what a miracle water is. We forget that it supports everything that lives—humans, animals, plants; the sea, the rivers, the mountains; the atmosphere, the air; when we study other planets in the solar system we know for certain that only those with water could ever have sustained life. Without water, we’re nothing at all. Unfortunately, sometimes we take this fact for granted. We have a funny human habit of valuing only what seems rare to us, things like masterpieces of art or diamonds. We think that water is so very common that we needn’t value it so highly. But as this book shows, water is not at all as common as we like to think, and we need to value it just as much as paintings and diamonds. Even more, because without it we cannot live.

The True Value of Water

The children in this book use water in lots of different ways. Apart from drinking it, they use it for cooking, washing their food, washing themselves, their clothes, and anything else that needs to be clean; they give it to the animals they look after, because animals need water to live, just as we do. They use water to grow the plants they need to make their food. Children in the developed world also need water for all these reasons, even if they don’t do all these tasks themselves. Maybe it is only when you do these tasks yourself that you understand the true value of water.

In developed countries, it is easy to think of a tap as a magical thing, out of which flows an endless supply of clean water—and all you have do is turn it on.

In fact, water systems in developed countries rely on many people behind the scenes who recycle, cleanse, and reuse our water, and so make sure that we always have what seems like more than enough. But we should still look after it: It takes energy, time, and space to cleanse the water.  And it is not unlimited. Climate change is causing weather and rainfall patterns to change, which means that many people won’t be able to rely on the rain in the way they did before.

A reliable and local supply of fresh water and good sanitation would enhance the lives of millions of people in developing countries. It would protect them from illnesses and enable them to spend less time and energy collecting water.

If you are reading this book and have your own plentiful water supply, maybe the stories will make you think twice about the way you use water. When I finished this book I walked out into the streets of the city I live in—a city that rains plentifully in the wintertime, that is full of  fountains, that has a river running straight through it—and I realized that suddenly all the water I could see looked incredibly precious.  When I got home I made a list of all the ways I could be less wasteful with the water I use. I think that whenever I am tempted again to think Well, it’s only water, I will pick up this book and take a lesson from the children you are about to meet, because they know better.

Zadie Smith

Rome, Italy

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