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If the World Were a Village DVD Review by Dawn Peterson

Kids Can Press
Fire the Imagination
21 Suffolk Street W.
Guelph, ON N1H 2H9

If the World Were a Village is a thought-provoking, 23-minute DVD that portrays the entire world as a village of 100 people. Fire the Imagination's website states, "Based on the award-winning book of the same name, If the World Were a Village tells us who we are, where we live, how fast we are growing, what languages we speak, what religions we practice, and more."

The DVD is very nicely done, and as I watched it with my girls, ages 7 and 9, it held our attention and interest. As the DVD moves along and we "meet" the different cultures represented, facts are communicated by figures. For instance, 61 people are from Asia, 12 are from Europe, 8 are from Central and South America, 5 are from North America, and 1 is from Oceania. Figures are given for age, religion, income, and things like what number of people always have enough to eat (only 24!), how many have clean water either in their homes or nearby (75), and how many have radios (42) and computers (10). I was most surprised by the fact that only 20 have money to spend after paying for food and shelter. Literally, 80 percent have just enough for their basic needs or far less.

The DVD manages to be mainly "upbeat" with the colorful animation and pleasant music; however, it does portray the sadness of poverty and the reality that here in North America, we have far more than most.

My 7-year-old really did not grasp the "miniature world" concept, and my 9-year-old came away from the DVD mainly with the impression that it showed many different cultures. She didn't really understand that the numbers and facts represented the entire world population of 6 billion people until we discussed it afterwards. I think the DVD is of some benefit to grammar-age students; however, it seems like it might be more appreciated and understood at a 5th/6th grade level and up.

I'm not entirely sure that all the numbers were accurate, but it leaves room for more research and digging. The program ended with asking the viewer whether they will share with others what they know and treat others kindly. It didn't give solutions to the problem of world hunger and poverty, and I actually appreciated that it left it open for the parent/teacher to discuss further with the child/student, rather than offering up a solution I would be opposed to (such as population control).

Overall, I thought this was an interesting and well-produced educational DVD, and would recommend it to parents wanting to help their child gain a better understanding of the world in which we live.

Product review by: Dawn Peterson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, August 2008