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Wisconsin Parent

CitizenKid Book Reviews: Becoming a Global Citizen

Mar 07, 2014 01:49PM ● By Tiffany Malloy
One of our family's favorite things to do is to read. We are always on the lookout for great books that stretch our minds, make us laugh until our bellies hurt, touch our hearts, or send us into the magical lands of faraway places.  Especially in the world of children’s books, sometimes it can be difficult to know what to read next. We often end up  going through a lot of “just okay” books to get to the gems. And when we FIND those gems, we are sure to share them with fellow book adventurers.

One such set of books that we have been thoroughly enjoying is the CitizenKid books, published by Kids Can Press. CitizenKid is a collection of books that aim to teach the child about the world around them as well as inspire them to be active global citizens. CitizenKid believes “change can happen one kid at a time” and I wholeheartedly agree. The experiences our children have and the books they read shape their hearts and minds, so it is important that we as parents help them choose wisely.


How to Build Your Own Country by Valerie Wyatt

This is a book that is interactive, funny, and quite informative! Kids are challenged to build their own country from scratch. Create a flag. Establish holidays. Figure out how you are going to govern your citizens. Wyatt fills these pages with good information, and presents it in funny ways that will keep the kids laughing and wanting to learn more. The book is colorful with funny illustrations and it is written in such a way that it can be picked up and put down, which is nice for nonfiction.  To get a peek at some of the elements covered, you can visit the Build Your Own Micronation activity on the CitizenKid website. Also, be sure to download free extra resources relating to the book.


If the World Were a Village by David J. Smith

What if the world were narrowed down to 100 people in a village? What languages would be spoken? What would we be eating for dinner? How old would the population be? If the World Were a Village is an easy but fascinating read for both child and parent. It will change the way that you look at the world, and will surely help children to understand that they are only one part of a much bigger global village. To supplement your ready, you may also want to check out this free teaching guide.


This Child, Every Childby David J. Smith

Did you know that some kids live on boats in Hong Kong? And that some kids are forced into war at a very early age? Did you know that some girls can’t attend school? This Child, Every Child brings to light the fact that not everyone lives like we do. Children all over the world are alike in many ways, but very different in others. Some of these differences are only surface-level, of course, but many of them are quite important to understand. Kids are introduced to the realities of human trafficking, child labor, malnutrition, child soldiers, and gender issues, but in a way that is very introductory and child-appropriate. The teaching guide can be found here.


Razia's Ray of Hope: One Girl's Dream of an Educationby Elizabeth Suneby

Based on a true story of the girls at the Zabuli Education Center for Girls in Afghanistan, this is one girl’s story of a dream come true. Razia would sit by her brother’s every night as they did their homework by candlelight, hoping to learn alongside them. Then she finds out that a school for girls is being built in her village- but would she convince the men in her life to allow her to go? Not only is the story well-written, but I loved the beautiful illustrations in the book as well. This was a favorite in our house. Depending what grade your child is in, the publisher has a variety of suggested extension activities for free download.


Planet Ark: Preserving Earth's Biodiversity by Adrienne Mason

Using the story of Noah’s Ark as a framework for biodiversity, this book shows the great interconnectedness of life on earth. Not only is biodiversity something to celebrate, but it is also something to protect. In Planet Ark, we are shown a couple of examples of how two seemingly unconnected things are indeed connected, and then what we can do in our daily lives to help preserve this beautiful tapestry of life. My favorite part about this book is the “Modern Day Noah” section where the author shared stories of real life kids who have done something to preserve and care for the world’s biodiversity.


One Well: The Story of Water on Earth by Rochelle Strauss

Imagine that all of the earth’s water came from one well. Wait… it actually does! In this book, kids learn about everything you could possibly want to know about water- where it comes from, where it goes, who has access (and who doesn’t), pollution, and water conservation. The gift of water is one that kids of all ages should learn about and act on- clean water is one of the greatest needs of many children around the world. This book is down-to-earth, engaging, and leaves you wanting to DO something! Here are some learning resources to go along with the book.


Tree of Life: The Incredible Biodiversity of Life on Earthby Rochelle Strauss

A child’s introduction to biodiversity, this book creatively illustrates the richness and organization of life on earth. Kids learn about the five kingdoms and how all living things are classified in one of those.  For those kids who are interested in natural life and are ready to learn more about the organization of it all, I’d definitely recommend this, and also the activity guide.


Three things that I love about the CitizenKid series overall:

  1. It is written by authors that are knowledgeable in their field and who care a lot about kids.
  2. Each book includes resources to help parents take the “next step” in their child’s learning, whatever that may be. The reader isn’t left with a bunch of knowledge, but is also given ways to put their learning into practice.
  3. The books covers a wide variety of very important topics that kids are not too young to learn about: democracy, biodiversity, multiculturalism, poverty, education, etc.
Check out the website for more books in the series—there are some other really good ones out there. We’ve now read almost every single book in this series and are looking forward to whatever will be next!

Thank you, KidsCanPress for sending these books in exchange for an honest review.