According to the United Nations, the world’s population will reach 7 billion people tomorrow – a memorable way to begin the week. I’m not sure this “elevator” has a weight limit. We will have to rely on human ingenuity to face this challenge as we have so many times before. Surfing around a bit this morning, I read that China and India account for 37% of the world’s population, and after Asia, Africa is the second most populous continent. I also learned that the best way to truly get away from it all is to move to Greenland or Iceland.
I want to ask our students to think about the number 7 billion. I can tell them that, according to one article I read, 7 billion people could stand shoulder to shoulder in Los Angeles. And that if we were to all gather in Los Angeles, the language most of us would hear is Mandarin Chinese which is spoken by over 12% of the population.
Here are ten picture books to initiate a discussion of our changing planet. The first five are for young children – books that will spark an interest in geography and curiosity about this big world.
Whoever You Are by Mem Fox
People by Peter Spier
One World, One Day by Barbara Kerley
Somewhere in the World Right Now by Stacey Schuett
How to Bake an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman
Houses and Homes by Ann Morris (Morris’s Around the World books include Bread, Bread, Bread and On the Go and Families. The books are a fascinating way to introduce young children to our diverse world.)
If the World Were a Village: A Book About the World’s People by David J. Smith (A look at the world – based on the idea that the world is a village of 100 people. Be sure you get the second edition. The book was originally published in 2002, but has been updated to reflect the current demographics.)
One Well: The Story of Water on Earth by Rochelle Strauss (70% of our planet is water and this book – for older children – stresses how water connects all of us and the urgent need to protect the “well.”)
A Life Like Mine: How Children Live Around the World (profiles of children and how their most fundamental needs are met. A project of DK Publishing in association with UNICEF.)
A Child’s Introduction to the World: Geography, Cultures and People – From the Grand Canyon to the Great Wall of China by Heather Alexander (Another book for older children, but I like this book’s focus on geography, beginning with a section titled, “Where Am I?”)