If America Were a Village: A Book about the People of the United States Hardcover – Aug 1 2009
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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.
About the Author
David J. Smith is a teacher and educational consultant with over 25 years of experience in the classroom and is the creator of the award-winning curriculum "Mapping the World by Heart."
Shelagh Armstrong is a freelance commercial artist who has designed adult book covers, stamps and commemorative coins .If the World Were a Village was her first children's book. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The book makes fascinating facts and figures understandable to all of us by placing them in the context of a "village" of 100 people. For example, if America were a village of 100, 5 people would have more than half of all the wealth. And the 60 poorest would share only 4 percent of the wealth. That certainly puts things in perspective for me! There are many more of these insights on everything from religion to jobs to where we live.
As an educator himself, David Smith also includes about a dozen very practical suggestions for teachers and parents "to support our children in unraveling this complex, multi-faceted" country. I'm going to make sure the children in my own world have access to this book as a tool for expanding their own international horizons by first understanding their own country. I can imagine that students in schools all over America will soon be doing worthwhile research projects with titles like "If Tulsa Were a Village." Or Wyoming. Or any community in the world.
In this book, depending upon which way you looked at the village of one hundred people you will discover some amazing facts. Due to the fact we are a nation based on an immigrant population you will find people from around the world living here. You will find people who live in the urban, suburban and rural areas, the percentage of people who live where and the changes that have occurred over the past one hundred years. You can take a look at the family composition, what types of people compose a household, religious practices of people, what people do (work, go to school, stay home, etc.), how old we are, how wealthy we are, what kind of "stuff" we own, our energy consumption in comparison to the rest of the world, how healthy we are, and a brief glimpse into the future.
This is an amazing book that has a lot of potential for classroom use. It is a really interesting eye-opener, a lot of fun to read and very informative. I personally enjoyed this journey through time, across the nation and world and learned a lot of interesting things I was unaware of. For example, I was stunned to learn that "each American uses, on average, each year -- about 456,000 gallons" of water! In the back of the book there is a fantastic section on "Helping our children understand America." There are many activities that can be used in the homeschool or classroom setting. In the back of the book under sources, there are additional book and website resources that can be utilized. This book is not only fun, but it is an excellent educational resource!
But, more importantly, by imagining America to be a village of 100 people and then providing answers to a series of questions about the make-up of those 100 villagers, David J. Smith offers readers the invaluable opportunity to look beyond the ends of their noses and their own neighborhoods in order to get a broader and more objective view of the three-hundred-and-six-plus million people ("1 birth about every 8 seconds and one death every 12 seconds") who collectively make up these United States of America.
The questions addressed in the book include:
"Where do we come from?"
"What religions do we practice?"
"How old are we?"
"How wealthy are we?"
"How healthy are we?"
I have spent most of my life living in four places. I grew up in Plainview and Commack on Long Island; lived my years right after college in Southampton, Long Island; and have spent the second half of my life here in Sebastopol, California. Are these places like the U.S. as a whole? Not even close! Thus, many of the facts I learned from this book are as surprising to me than they will be to younger readers.
"A new immigrant arrives every 27 seconds," and "In our village of 100 about 13 are foreign-born."
For instance, like Holling Hoodhood from THE WEDNESDAY WARS, I have repeatedly lived in communities in which a large percentage of the families was Jewish. That only 1 person in our U.S. village of 100 is Jewish means that there must be vast regions of the United States where Jews are as rare as...well...as rare as the people of African descent were in the Long Island suburbs where I grew up. (Our U.S. village of 100 has 9 people of African descent.)
IF AMERICA WERE A VILLAGE continues on to provide contrasts between the demography of America and that of the rest of the world. Particularly striking are comparisons of material wealth along with the fact that our village is responsible for "21 percent of the world's total" energy consumption and that we are "the world's top users of water."
The U.S. village of 100 (which was closer to 50 when I was born) is a place that readers will understand a lot better after getting their hands on IF AMERICA WERE A VILLAGE.
We all live in a microcosm of America defined by our own neighborhood and our work and family interactions. This book bridges the wide differences we have regionally and prepares all of us for the evolving cultural and political landscape before us.
As a professional investor and as a grandparent, I find the insights in this beutifully illustrated book to be as significant and valuable as my own intellect and imagination can make it. This is a book for curious learners of all ages.