From the Publisher:
The World Around Us series introduces children to complex cultural, social and environmental issues in a straightforward and accessible way. These illustrated nonfiction picture books tackle global concerns and initiate conversations about subjects that are difficult, sad or overwhelming with school-aged children who are just beginning to observe the world outside their homes.
A gentle introduction to the issue of poverty, On Our Street explores the realities of people living with inadequate resources. Using age-appropriate language, this book addresses mental illness, homelessness and refugee status as they are connected to this issue. Insightful quotes from individuals and organizations such as UNICEF are included throughout to add further perspective on the issue. An invaluable section on how kids can help empowers readers to take what they have learned and use it to make a difference.
Child psychologist Dr. Jillian Roberts created this series to guide parents/caregivers through conversations about difficult issues in a reassuring and hopeful manner and help children understand their expanding awareness of the world around them.
I am very impressed with this useful non-fiction resource. The book covers difficult, yet vital topics of poverty, homelessness, mental illness, fundamental human rights, etc. in a gentle and compassionate manner. The content is clearly presented in a way that is factual, yet respectful and the informative fact boxes provide further levels of detail to assist with scaffolding the information for kids of various ages. I really like that the pages are image-rich (a mix of illustration and photographs) without being too text-heavy or overwhelming. The level of detail in the writing and in the photos is factual, yet is neither alarmist nor too graphic. Compassion, understanding and empathy are the focus here, without apology or excuse. Each two-page spread contains a focusing question that helps frame the topic and helps give the information a context. The flow between topics appears seamless, as the questions posed on each new page arise naturally from the information on the previous one. The book is set up like a very informative conversation, making it extraordinarily approachable. Lending added impact is the authentic voice of author Jaime Casap, who himself grew up in poverty as is explained in his message to readers in the endnotes. As a child psychologist, Dr. Jillian Roberts brings expertise in presenting difficult topics and concepts in age-appropriate ways in her writing approach. The authors have struck just the right balance between information (provided from experts, organizations such as UNICEF, etc.) and suggestions of ways to help that are geared to the practical ways that kids can get involved and make a difference. The topics are addressed at both a local level (within your city, school, neighbourhood, etc.) as well as on a global level (human rights, refugees). Parents and teachers can be confident that the information within this title will not overwhelm or traumatize children. This would make an excellent read-aloud so that children could ask further questions of the adult who is reading it with them. It is a powerful tool with which to begin an exploration of a broader worldview as well as establishing compassion, empathy and beginning to think of tangible ways to provide assistance and make a difference in our local communities and in the broader world. I look forward with great anticipation to further collaborations between the authors and additional titles in this series.
- fact boxes and side bar information is effectively used to provide further information/definitions on many pages, providing further knowledge. This provides further insight without taking away from the flow of the text and is a helpful way to scaffold information for different ages
- questions are posed in each section to help get the dialogue started and are open enough to be prompts for further questions
- very useful list of resources at the back (websites for further information – Canadian, USA and international)
- very gently and openly encourages children to notice their surroundings and ask questions about what they see
- mix of illustrations and photographs is nicely balanced and factual without being too graphic
- respectful and compassionate tone is used to explain difficult concepts
Why/How Use it with kids:
- as a “just in time” resource when your child is asking questions about these topics
- as preparation before visiting somewhere where kids may be exposed to poverty or homelessness, etc. in a new or different way (e.g. first trip downtown, visit to a new city, etc.)
- as a building-block for compassion and empathy – gives the bigger concepts a context for discussion
- plan a way to “help” in a tangible way (i.e. volunteer in a soup kitchen, donate money to a shelter or food bank, donate to a toiletries drive for a shelter, donate toys to a holiday toy drive, etc.)
***Check out our reviews of two other books by Dr. Jillian Roberts: What Makes us Unique?: Our first talk about diversity and Why Do Families Change?: Our first talk about separation and divorce
About the Authors/Illustrator:
Dr. Jillian Roberts has been working with children for more than twenty years, first as a primary schoolteacher, then as a child psychologist and an associate professor of educational psychology at the University of Victoria. She lives in Victoria, British Columbia (from Orca Book Publishers).
Jaime Casap is the Chief Educational Evangelist at Google, Inc in Phoenix, Arizona. Jaime is a first-generation American who was raised by a single mother subsisting on welfare in Hell’s Kitchen, NY. Having grown up in poverty, he truly believes that access to education and technology can save lives. Working with Google and educational organizations around the world, Jaime is passionate about improving the quality of education by using technology to create powerful learning models in all classrooms, from kindergarten to college and university (from Orca Book Publishers).
Jane Heinrichs is a children’s book writer and illustrator. She starts her day at a clear desk with her huge sketchbook (for books) and her tiny sketchbook (for daily drawings) but usually ends up sitting on the floor, surrounded by a collection of paints, pencils and papers. She was born in Africa, grew up in Manitoba and moved to England to study fine art at a postgraduate level. She has a BA in art history and classics from the University of Manitoba, an MA in art history from the Courtauld Institute of Art and an MA in illustration from the Camberwell College of Arts. She lives in the UK with her family and loves gardening, reading and eating huge chocolate sundaes very slowly (from Orca Book Publishers).