Sense of Place: Kids’ Books that Celebrate the USA and L.A.

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joperry110x155BY JO PERRY

A brilliant new book about America will be published this August: If America Were a Village: A Book about the People of the United States by David J. Smith and illustrated by Shelagh Armstrong. In this colorful “statistical snapshot” of the USA, Armstrong’ shrinks our vast nation of over 300 million people to a village of 100, then invites kids 9-12 to explore the ethnic origins, family structure, religions, jobs, wealth and poverty, and material possessions of residents of this American “village”of 100.

In this colorful "statistical snapshot" of the USA, Armstrong' shrinks our vast nation of over 300 million people to a village of 100, then invites kids 9-12 to explore the ethnic origins, family structure, religions, jobs, wealth and poverty, and material possessions of residents of this American "village"of 100

In this colorful "statistical snapshot" of the USA, Armstrong' shrinks our vast nation of over 300 million people to a village of 100.

In the village of America:

  • 20 families have two parents, while seven are single-parent families. About half of these 27 families have children under the age of 18, for a total of 29 children.
  • Ten households are made up of oneperson who lives alone.
  • The remaining 14 people live in households of two or more unrelated people sharing living quarters…

How do American families compare with those of other nations? There are big differences. When young people in various countries were asked, ‘What’s your ideal family? How many children do you want?’ here’s how they answered:
In the United States, young people, on average, wanted two children; in India and Morocco, five, in Yemen, Sudan and Kenya, six; and in Mauritania, nine.

Smith ends his interesting survey with a section for adults, “Helping our children understand America” in which he suggests ways parents can enlarge their children’s understanding of our nation: keeping maps and globes around the house; exploring one’s community with an eye on history; encouraging kids to understand the vastness of the USA by discussion time zones, or checking the weather across the nation; and celebrating your own family’s heritage.

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This beautiful book includes sections on Olvera Street, The San Fernando Mission, the Getty Center, The Museum of Tolerance, Watts Towers, Plaza de Los Angeles, Chinatown, and other L.A. places and neighborhoods.

If America Were a Village will connect children America’s people and history, and will help them imagine their place in global village. L.A.’s own Angel City Press’s City of Angels: In and Around Los Angeles by Julie Jaskol and Brian Lewis, with Elisa Kleven’s lively and gorgeous illustrations, will help kids feel that they’re a part of our diverse city and connected to its people. This beautiful book includes sections on Olvera Street, The San Fernando Mission, the Getty Center, The Museum of Tolerance, Watts Towers, Plaza de Los Angeles, Chinatown, and other L.A. places and neighborhoods. City of Angels will inspire kids to rejoice in their city and to celebrate their own unique neighborhoods.

Visit the library often this summer and to make sure each member of your family has his or her own library card. For more information visit www.lapl.org.

Jo Perry has a Ph.D. in English, taught literature and writing, and worked as a college administrator and as a television writer Jo Perryand producer. She is a reviewer for BookBrowse.com and is an ongoing contributor to kidsLA Magazine for which she writes about the city, children’s books, and conducts interviews. For two years she wrote the Kids’ Book Club column for the L.A. Times’ Kids’ Reading Room page. She wrote about summer reading for kids in the June issue of Costco Connection.

About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.