Monday, May 11, 2009

Celebrate! Connections Among Cultures, by Jan Reynolds

Did you ever sit and pour over the National Geographic Magazine as a kid? My brother and I used to sit in our family room for hours looking at the pictures of far away places and cultures. There is something fascinating about seeing the way people in other places live. Celebrate! Connections Among Cultures speaks to this fascination, but helps kids see similarities between different cultures - the way that no matter how different we are, we are essentially the same.
Celebrate! : connections among cultures
written and photographed by Jan Reynolds
NY: Lee & Low Books, 2006.
ages 6 - 10
Reynolds is a photojournalist, and her pictures are beautiful and captivating. Her field work has taken her to Australia, Bali, Tibet, Europe, Africa, and North and South America. In this book, she pulls together her real understandings of these different cultures to ask the essential question, "When people celebrate, what are they doing?" This book is organized into a series of simple statements, such as:
"When we celebrate, we gather together."

"When we celebrate, we eat and drink."

"When we celebrate, we decorate ourselves."
On the double page spread showing people gathering together in celebration, there is a picture of Tibetans from the Everest region gathering together for Mani Rimdu to receive blessings; there is also a picture of the Sami gathering together to celebrate the return of sunlight to the Arctic region of Northern Europe in the spring. Another picture a Yanomani village gathering together in honor of someone who has died. (To see some samples of the book, go to the publisher's website at Lee & Low Books.)

I loved the way Reynolds brought complex ideas to a level that young children in 1st or 2nd grade could understand. They can look at these pictures of people so different from ourselves and start to draw connections to their own lives. It's a beautiful book that children will look at again and again. It would also make a wonderful starting place for talking about the way we celebrate traditions in our own families.

Tomorrow I'll be reviewing Jan Reynold's new book Cycle of Rice, Cycle of Life as part of her blog tour. It's also a very interesting book that looks at the traditional methods of growing rice in Bali.

Find it at the Berkeley Public Library or the Oakland Library. You can buy it from the publishers, Lee & Low Books, or from Amazon.

Interested in more nonfiction books for children? Check out Nonfiction Monday at Book Scoops. Cari posted an interesting review of Secrets of a Civil War Submarine, for any history and mystery lovers out there.


  1. Fascinating! Sounds like sociology for the very young.


  2. Violet - yes, it's definitely worth searching out. Enjoy! Mary Ann