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If You Were Me and Lived In . . . (India, Kenya, Turkey): A Child's Introduction to Culture Around the World Review by Tess Hamre

Carole P. Roman

Each of these delightful books introduces young children to the culture of a specific country— India, Kenya, and Turkey. Reading each book is like taking a mini-tour and includes geographic information such as where the country is located and the name and location of the capital city. The mini-tour even includes famous attractions such as the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, the Taj Mahal in India, and Hagia Sophia in Turkey.

These adorable children’s books from Carole P. Roman feature large font and full-page color illustrations. Each paperback book ranges from 28 to 30 pages in length and measures 8 inches square. The pages are non-glossy and non-coated. They have the feel of real paper as opposed to the feel of a more magazine-like glossy paper.

The title reads, “A Child’s Introduction to Culture,” and that is exactly what each of these books do. They introduce the reader to the culture of each country using the same framework. Since children are already familiar with certain things in their own culture such as common names for boys and girls, what to call Mother and Father, and favorite foods, this framework provides the perfect structure for this new information.

When reading these books, students get a glimpse of what it is like to live in another country; at the same time, they learn that children are the same everywhere. They have the same need for food and love. They have the same desire for fun and play.

These delightful and insightful books provide the perfect spine for a geography and culture program for young students. I let my daughter pick which book to study first, and she chose Kenya. We followed the same pattern for each book.

We started by just reading the book several times over several days. I love that each book includes a pronunciation guide in the back. It is a bit awkward to have to keep flipping back to check the pronunciation, but after a few readings, I was as confident in my ability to mispronounce Swahili as I am in mispronouncing English.

Using the book as a reference, I had my daughter mark the capital city on the country map and color a printout of the flag. The flag is shown flying on the school in each of the three books, which was another reminder of the similarities between our countries. We fly our country flag on official buildings like schools, too.

We also created notebook pages with information from the book: name of the capital city, type of currency used, predominant language spoken, and predominate religion practiced. Other information that was fun to include was common boy and girl names, what to call Mom and Dad, and favorite games to play.

Because these books whetted my daughter’s appetite to learn more about each country, I was able to easily add DVDs and books from the library to supplement. These supplements would not be necessary for preschool or kindergarten children. Even first grade children would learn plenty from just reading the books. For older students in second and perhaps third grade, supplements would take the topic a bit deeper and give them more of a challenge.

I am so glad these three books are just a few of the titles in the series and that Carole P. Roman has several more available. These are fun and educational, and I think they are perfect for home schooling social studies with early elementary students.

-Product review by Tess Hamre, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October 2014