One thing I enjoy about having a blog is being “discovered” by a publisher whose books really fit my style and interests. For me, the Global Fund for Children is just that publisher. Their books are all about diversity and respect for other cultures and people. I am always delighted and honored to be asked to review one, and pleased to be able to recommend a really worthwhile book. When the review copy arrives at my house we all pounce upon it eagerly!
The latest treat we received from the Global Fund for Children is Kindergarten Day USA and China by Trish Marx and Ellen B. Senisi. The premise of the book is basic: simple text from a child’s point of view and lots of big, colorful photos track a typical kindergarten day in the United States and in China.
First of all, we love the way the book is cleverly set up as a flip book. One half is the Schenectady, New York class but when you finish that section you close the book and flip it around to read about the Beijing children’s day in the other half. We also liked that each page has a clock that shows both the time in Schenectady and the time in Beijing. This gives a real-time sense of what is going on for the children in each country. Finally, we enjoyed the fact that the China section has some Chinese words sprinkled throughout and briefly explains pinyin, encouraging young readers to try to pronounce the Chinese words.
The authors successfully create a connection between the two classrooms on different sides of the globe through parallel activities. Each class has a birthday celebration. There is a slight conflict (being too loud, not sharing toys) that will be familiar to all children wherever they live. We see both classes eat lunch and have outdoor recess. Children in each class interact with their friends and work on reading. And at the end of the sections, both classes mention thinking about the other class and wonder if the other class thinks about them too.
Children will see that although there are some interesting differences in life in the other country (for example we see the American children served lunch in a cafeteria, whereas the Chinese teacher prepares lunch for the children and it is eaten in the classroom with chopsticks), there are actually far more similarities. Children in both countries laugh and cry. All the children enjoy friends, playtime, drawing and reading.
My kids (ages 5, 8, and 10) are fascinated by Kindergarten Day and have read it through several times, even the older two. I really like how the Global Fund for Children’s multicultural books take advantage of childrens’ natural curiosity about other children to teach the important lesson that although we might be different in some minor ways, people are basically the same wherever they live. If every human could learn this basic truth at a young age, and develop a sense of curiosity about other countries and cultures, wouldn’t the world be a much happier and more harmonious place!
Kudos (yet again!) to the Global Fund for Children for helping to promote international awareness and understanding among children.
My other Global Fund for Children recommendations: