“In living color and with a multitude of young voices, Children of the World testifies to the power of art in making our lives meaningful, in both personal and public ways.”
The route that led to Children of the World encompassed 192 countries, 160,000 photos; numerous vaccinations, Visas and volunteers; and myriad workshops to elicit poetry and artwork that reflect children’s views of their world. Photographers Anthony Asael and Stephanie Rabemiafara, founders of the not-for-profit organization Art in All of Us, have compiled a bright, enticing book that belongs in every school or public library.
From Afghanistan to Cuba . . . from Burkina Faso to Kazakhstan . . . from Lebanon to Zimbabwe, the world blooms from the pages of this artfully arranged book. Who could resist gazing at these beautiful photos? They display children in both public and personal moments, day and night, in vibrant color or, occasionally, in atmospheric black-and-white. The photographers, shooting from a range of interesting angles, produce stunning close-ups, as well as group shots that reveal details about a particular environment. The result: a love for children and their diverse cultures radiates from the cover to the end papers.
Children of the World is more than an attractive photography book, however; the concept, format and execution unite to create an inspirational and child-friendly resource that enhances cultural literacy. The book’s useful features include a table of contents and a page explaining how the book works by showing a sample page and identifying the details one will discover there. Mr. Asael and Ms. Rabemiafara have wisely chosen to focus on simple, essential aspects of the United Nations members featured. The 192 profiles are followed by statistics from Unicef’s State of the World’s Children reports , credits, and a sprinkling of children’s artwork.
Arranged alphabetically, each nation, identified by continent and with a map, gets its own colorful double-spread. Basic facts follow, specifying the official and most commonly spoken language, the most popular foods, and the most popular sports or activities—all subjects children can relate to. The left-hand page features artwork by a local child, a poem in another child’s own language and handwriting, and the English translation of that poem. On the right is a full-page photograph of a child or children in their environment.
The compilers’ photos work smoothly with the well-chosen selection of children’s artwork and poetry, often heightening our appreciation of a particular culture. An example of this dynamic is the spread on the nation of Barbados. We learn they like to play cricket and soccer and to surf and scuba dive. A child’s drawing of someone in a boat features red, blue, gold, and green fish in a vivid marine-blue sea, with green hills in the background and a lemon slice of sun above. An 11-year-old girl’s poem praises the Caribbean island and her favorite music, calypso, which “makes you want to jump and wave/ Makes you want to move your waist.” Then we see a lively shot of six schoolgirls in their navy and white uniforms, joyfully leaping in front of a pale yellow-green wall.
Readers will no doubt smile as they peruse these likable pages, but as they view the artwork and read the children’s poems, they will also grasp some of the compelling similarities and differences among us. A goal of the compilers, we learn in the preface, is to spread “cross-cultural understanding and to empower a sense of global citizenship.”
In living color and with a multitude of young voices, Children of the World testifies to the power of art in making our lives meaningful, in both personal and public ways. Educators looking for opportunities to increase awareness and appreciation of diverse cultures should reach for this well-crafted book to enhance a variety of social studies, geography, art, and literature units.
All proceeds go to support Art in All of Us programs, the not-for-profit organization founded by Mr. Asael and Ms. Rabemiafara, “dedicated to stimulating the creativity and curiosity for other cultures within children using art.”