School Days Around the World
Written by Margriet Ruurs
Illustrated by Alice Feagan
Series: Around the World
Kids Can Press, 2015
Hardcover or Ebook
List Price: USD $18.95, CAD $19.95
4-color 9 x 12 40 pages
Grades: PreSchool To 2 / Ages: 3 to 7
Author Margriet Ruurs begins this engaging informational picture book by posing an intriguing question: “What is a school? Is it a building with classrooms? Or can it be any place where children learn?” The fascinating stories that follow will expand how young readers think of school, as they learn about the experiences of real children in thirteen different countries around the world. From Marta in Azezo, Ethiopia, and Luciano in Mérida, Venezuela, to Alina in Taraz, Kazakhstan, and Lu in Shanghai, China, the children who are profiled live in places that truly span the globe. However, while there are huge differences in their environments, all the children share similar desires to learn, read and play with others. Alice Feagan’s charming cut-paper collage artwork further enhances the idea of a global community by featuring smiling, enthusiastic children’s faces, which are equally joyous and filled with life in every situation.
As with all the titles in the popular Around the World series, using a familiar concept such as going to school is a perfect way to introduce children to other cultures and places in social studies classes. The author has provided several resources at the end of the book, including discussion topics and a list of organizations that help children access education. A world map at the beginning of the book shows the location of each of the countries, and a glossary contains definitions of the foreign words. These, along with a table of contents, make useful tools for familiarizing young readers with book navigation.
K-Gr 2 – This upbeat picture book explores a typical day for children attending 13 schools around the world, from Amy and Gwen, who are homeschooled in Alaska, to Mathii, an orphan from Kenya. For each country, there’s a colorful spread featuring a few first-person details (“I am out of breath by the time I reach my classroom on the third floor of my school. Lots of stairs!”) that demonstrate that ultimately these kids have more in common than it might seem. While readers will enjoy learning about the different cultures, the lack of depth here may spark more questions. Educators looking to provide more context will find some help in a section toward the end of the book, “A Closer Look at Schools Around the World,” which offers tips on how to engage kids with the text and presents additional information about the different schools. There is also a list of charities that donate books and other supplies to schools in need. The cut-paper illustrations are bright and friendly looking, matching the cheerful feel of the text.
– School Library Journal
VERDICT This title is a gentle introduction to the concept that when it comes to global experiences, similarities outweigh differences, though some adult guidance is required.
– Laura Stanfield, Campbell County Public Library, Ft. Thomas, KY
In this companion to Children Around the World and Families Around the World, Ruurs introduces 14 children from various countries, based on real individuals, who describe what school is like for them. Feagan’s crisp, digitally assembled cut-paper collages give the children cheerful, puppetlike appearances and provide a sense of school environments that range from a fancy German boarding school to the house where two homeschooled Alaskan girls study. Mathii, who lives at an orphanage in Kenya, describes his morning routine (“The sun is barely up when I hurry to school to sweep the floors”), while in Shanghai, a boy named Lu explains that “classical music plays over the intercom” at his public school between classes. A lighthearted overview of school-day life that will leave readers considering how their routines compare to those of their global peers. Ages 3–7. (Apr.)
– Publishers Weekly
“This title is a gentle introduction to the concept that when it comes to global experiences, similarities outweigh differences …”
— School Library Journal, April 2015
“The lively and colourful cartoon-like illustrations will be highly appealing to youngsters.”
— CM Magazine, June 2015
2016 – Rainforest of Reading Award, OneWorld Schoolhouse Foundation, Short-listed
2015 – Best Books for Kids & Teens, Canadian Children’s Book Centre, Winner
Reading Lights selection, Vancouver Public Library