Monday, October 12, 2009

Nonfiction Monday: If America Were A Village


Smith, David J. 2009. If America Were A Village. Illustrated by Shelagh Armstrong. Kids Can Press.

I loved this book. Loved the concept of it. What is it about? The author imagines America as a village of a hundred people. That still didn't come out quite right. I'll let the publisher help:

Today there are 306 million people living in America. This enormous number can be difficult to grasp, especially for a child. But what if we imagine America as a village of just 100 people?
"Each person in this village will represent more than 3 million Americans in the real world."

So the author then provides an overview of our village on a wide range of topics including:

  • Who are we?
  • Where do we come from?
  • Where do we live?
  • What are our families like?
  • What religions do we practice?
  • What do we do?
  • How old are we?
  • How wealthy are we?
  • What do we own?
  • What do we use?
  • How healthy are we?

For example, on "Where Do We Come From?" We read,
America is a country of immigrants. Almost every person in the United States can trace ancestors back to other parts of the world.

If the America of today were a village of 100:
15 would be of German ancestry, 11 would be of Irish ancestry, 9 African, 9 English, 7 Mexican, 6 Italian, 3 Polish, 3 French, 3 Native American, 2 Scottish, 2 Dutch, 2 Norwegian, 1 Scotch-Irish, and 1 Swedish. The rest have other backgrounds.

That is quite a change from when the first U.S. census was taken in 1790. If America had been a village of 100 in 1790, 53 would have come from England, 19 from Africa (most of them slaves), 11 from Scotland and Ireland, and 7 from Germany. The rest had various backgrounds including French, Swedish, and Native.

Early on, most immigrants came from Europe, but that began to change after 1900:

In 1900, 96 percent came from Europe, 1 percent from Latin America, and 3 percent from other places.
In 1950, 53 percent came from Europe, 40 percent from Latin America, 6 percent from Asia and 1 percent from other places.
In 2000, 15 percent came from Europe, 49 percent came from Latin America, 31 percent from Asia, and 5 percent from other places.
The information presented is interesting and simple enough to grasp, yet it isn't too simple. It still gives you plenty to think about, to digest or absorb.

This is David J. Smith's second book, his first was If The World Were A Village. After reading this one, I'm thinking that I should probably seek out his first book.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

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