Charles R. Smith Jr.'s I Am the World
Book review by Kristin Peck
I Am the World by Charles R. Smith, Jr. is an appealing book of photographs focusing upon the subject of diversity through race and country of origin.
Throughout the book, there are children pictured with symbolic attire, activities, or food (get into that in a moment), and a captioned blurb that relates back to their ancestry and/or culture following along an "I am" poem format.
As the reader turns each page, a new ethnicity is revealed within a smiling face along with words like, "I am strong" or "I am biscotti …"
I am biscotti?
To be perfectly honest, I picked up this book due to the photographs, and I completely judged the book by its cover. Turns out in this case, that is okay to do since all of the pictures displayed on the cover of the book are pretty much what is contained on the inside.
Initial presentation allows it to be perceived as a great way to introduce one's child to differences in others, and a chance to open conversation about why we are different, but still considered the world as a collective whole.
Different skin tones, outfits, hair colors, and even hair styles are relevant and pull multiple countries' "known-for" aspects into one location.
Placed on completely black backgrounds, the colors are pulled from the children themselves like bright red hair, or beautiful beads.
It is cute, it really is.
The words are simple, and poetic. They carry a nice flow from start to finish, and keep the tone in a melodic way.
However, if the author is going to start the book off with "I am strong" and then allow emphasis for certain cultures to talk about the blood of their royal ancestors, or even their Irish pride smiles, or flamenco dancing, I am pretty sure there are more positive things to say about places like Germany.
Bratwurst … yes it reads, "I am the bite in bratwurst."
Internal cringing commencing.
All jokes aside, I know that the point of this book is to show that differences are a part of what makes the world go round, and food is certainly one of them.
Each culture has something new and interesting to contribute to the melting pot, and as children, they are the biggest source of non-judgmental innocence, and the best ambassadors for the job.
This book brings together what we know, love, and respect about many different cultures and tosses them into a lovely dedication.
I am the World is a positivity inspired, visually pleasant read.
More multicultural books.
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