This week, Dora and I began an official study of geography. We will be covering the seven continents, using geography boxes, but I first wanted to give her a general introduction to geography. We started with a couple of books that introduced her to the idea that there are people all over the world who are so much like us, while being so different from us at the same time. She is very familiar with cultural differences, thanks to our living in a very multicultural area, but the idea that there are people far, far away from us, is very new to her. Our first book, by Mem Fox, was Whoever You Are. The books’ illustrations are a bit unusual, bordering on strange at times. Still, strange illustrations do not make the book bad, just a bit abstract. Both of us have really enjoyed the book. Dora has been very intrigued by the various children with skinned knees and the page where the mom (grandma? aunt?) saying “good-bye” to the child, with tears in both of their eyes.
We also read the book, People, by Peter Spier. This award-winning book is an excellent jumping-off point for teaching children just how diverse our world is. Dora likes to just sit and look through the book and to see what things people in various places do and eat. I believe that this book addresses many important issues at a level that children can understand, but I do want to issue a couple of warnings about this book.
Firstly, the title page, has a naked man and woman on it, showing their backsides. I am guessing they are supposed to be Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden??? We actually find the image to be quite amusing, but we are liberal heathens and I did not want anyone to read this book, based on my recommendation, and be offended.
There is also a picture of a grave, with a sentence that that discusses the fact that all humans die. I warn you about this, as death may not be a topic you want to discuss with your child right now. Dora finds the idea that I will die one day to be extremely distressing. I don’t think that she has yet realized that she, too, will die one day. Since she gets so upset whenever she thinks of me dying, I just briskly skim that page and move on when we read the book. Since she has never been to a funeral, I do not think that she comprehends what she is seeing when she looks at the image.
There is also an illustration of extreme poverty, which you may or may not feel comfortable with exposing your child to at this point in time. For my part, I tried to point out the differences between the image of the poor area and where we live. I also tried to discuss with her the extreme poverty I witnessed on a trip to Mazatlan. This concept seemed to be a bit too esoteric for Dora and I’m pretty sure that all she heard was “blah, blah, blah, blah”, but I tried.
Finally, there is an image of group of kids bullying a girl, which Dora found to be upsetting. Once again., I mention this as I don’t want to recommend a book and have people be unpleasantly surprised. I feel that the positives of this book far out-weigh any of the negatives, but I want to have full disclosure, if that is at all possible.
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