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If the World were a Village…

Paul Banas
Author Paul Banas
Submitted 11-08-2009

We’d heard a lot about these books and finally had the chance to read If the World Were a Village and If America Were a Village.

First of all, let me say that I appreciate the correct use of the subjunctive “were” rather than “if the World was a village.”

Second, I thoroughly enjoyed these books. When I took them out to show my kids (5 and 9), they were a little cynical. My son wants to read about trucks or monsters and my daughter likes stories. But the well-done illustrations pulled them in – they know quality when they see it – and the chance to talk about stuff with dad.

The books just present simple statistics using the example of a village of 100 people. Each person representing 1% of the population, which gives a kid, and adults, better access to the material. Literacy rates or hunger are presented as some of the “villagers” who can’t read or who go hungry, which personalizes the hard data. Every page gave us new things to talk about or for me to explain.

The books don’t attempt to give answers to the world’s problems and inequities, but do give parents a chance to discuss how lucky most American kids have it. Several generations of American parents have tried to communicate this message to relatively over-privileged off-spring. This book goes a good way to dimensionalize the differences. Dads will also pick up some interesting information. And it’s an enjoyable read for dads and kids alike.