Children Just Like Me

What is it

Children Just Like Me is a book with profiles of children from around the world. Each profile includes a photo of the child (typically aged between 7 and 10) and family, a description of where they live, what they eat, how they play, and what they learn in school. It’s a fun, easy format that shows both how cultures and regions are distinct from each other as well as how most children have a lot in common.

From the publisher’s (DK) website:

A favorite in classrooms, libraries, and homes, Children Just Like Me is a comprehensive view of international cultures, exploring diverse backgrounds from Argentina to New Zealand to China to Israel. With this brand new edition, children will learn about their peers around the world through engaging photographs and understandable text laid out in DK’s distinctive style.

Highlighting 36 different countries, Children Just Like Me profiles 44 children and their daily lives. From rural farms to busy cities to riverboats, this celebration of children around the world shows the many ways children are different and the many ways they are the same, no matter where they live.

Meet Bolat, an eight-year-old from Kazakhstan who likes to cycle, play with his pet dogs, and play the dromba; Joaquin from New Jersey who enjoys reading and spending time with his family, and whose favorite food is bacon; or Yaroslav from Moscow who likes to make robots. Daily routines, stories of friends and family, and dreams for the future are spoken directly from the children themselves, making the content appropriate and interesting to draw in young readers.

To celebrate the twentieth anniversary of this special project, all-new photography, maps, and facts give unique insight to children’s lives in our world today showing their homes, food, outfits, schools, families, and hobbies.

A passport to a celebratory journey around the world, Children Just Like Me is perfect for children who are curious about the children of the world and their stories.

Who is it for

Any kid who is curious about other children, is learning to understand the differences between peoples, could enjoy the book. It is most popular with our 6-year-old.

What Kids Like

Just like babies like looking at pictures of other babies, elementary school age kids like seeing pictures of other kids their age and learning about them. They are at an age when they are discovering the concept of “normal” and sometimes wonder whether they are normal, and who else might be normal, or not, and whether it matters. And part of that process is seeing the limits of what normal is, and also seeing that what is normal in one country may be very strange to us, and vice versa.

Honestly, when I first saw the book, I thought it was one of those books that parents and teachers think will be good for kids, but that kids wouldn’t actually like. But to my surprise, the kids like it. It’s frequently pulled off the shelf and handed to me for bedtime reading.

What Parents Like

I like that the kids learn about other cultures in an easy, fun way. My kids don’t have the patience to sit through a documentary and foreign travel is expensive. This book gets to the essence of geographical and cultural studies by showing what makes different nationalities distinct from one another.

What the Critics Think

Common Sense Media gives it 4/5 stars. They also say it is for ages 9+, which doesn’t seem right to me.

Who Made it / History

From the Amazon page:

Published to coincide with UNICEF’s fiftieth anniversary, a celebration of children around the world is based upon interviews with young people from all walks of life and reveals their diverse cultural backgrounds and universal similarities.

After the original book was published in 1995, several more related titles and an updated version have been published.

There are now a total of 9 books in the series.

Where Can I Get it

The publisher’s page has links to the book’s pages at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, and IndieBound

Richard Scarry’s Best Mysteries Ever!

Richard Scarry invented many memorable characters, including Huckle Cat and Lowly Worm, that lived on in cartoons and educational CD-Roms even after his death in 1994.

This book seems to be based on the animated series, “The Busy World of Richard Scarry” and was written in 1998. It does not include the standard Scarry characters, but does include new ones, including:

– Intrepid reporter Cucumber and her assistant Pickles
– Detective Sneef and his side-kick Sniff
– Detective Couscous

The book has 8 adventures, with one of the main characters solving a crime somewhere in the world. Each story is in a different setting (Brazil, India, Sahara, etc.) and the book includes a large map of the world, so this is (among other things) a good introduction to geography

The drawing style is exactly the same as Scarry’s and the stories are fun and engaging. The kids like this book a lot.
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The 8 short stories make it good for bedtime reading since I can read just one if it’s getting late and the kids are tired, or 3 if there’s more time, or even all 8 if everyone’s happily tucked in early.