Thursday, February 7, 2013

Shelf Life [kids]

Chinese New Year, by Catherine Chambers, 30 pages.

One of the most important holidays throughout China, Taiwan and Hong Kong (as well as in various North American communities) is the Chinese New Year, which this year falls on February 10 and begins the “Year of the Snake”.   

Celebrated with many days of festivities which include fireworks, parades, dancing, special foods and presents for children, the holiday is a time for families to reunite. It concludes with the traditional Lantern Festival.

The Chinese New Year is a fascinating holiday in part because of the rituals, superstitions and taboos associated with it. For example, people do not houseclean or bathe on New Year’s Day – at least, in traditional households - for fear of washing away the wealth that the gods may have left for the household. (On the other hand, it is the only time of year when gambling isn’t frowned upon!)

This book brings the lights and exuberance of this festival alive for young readers with its descriptive text and its many colourful photographs. One of the titles in the Festivals and Faiths series, it explains the origins, beliefs and the practices associated with the holiday in a way that is meaningful for children.

Note:  Children can find more information on the holidays and culture of this intriguing country in books such as Mary Colson’s Chinese Culture and Lynn Peppas’ Cultural Traditions in China, also at the Stratford Public Library.

** Recommended for ages 7 to 11 years.

This Child, Every Child: A Book about the World’s Children, by David J. Smith, 36 pages.

Did you know that there are more than 2.2 billion children in the world?  That’s approximately one-third of the world’s total population!

Of those 2.2 billion children, nearly 80 million do not attend school – some because they lack access to a school, others because they can’t afford school fees, or they must work instead – or because they are girls. Yet the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child asserts that each and every child on our planet has the right to a good quality education and should be encouraged to go to school.  

According to the Rights of the Child, children also have the right to be protected from work that is harmful and detrimental to their health. Yet many of the world’s children work in places that are far from safe, and in fact, some children are even drawn into wars as soldiers.

Children also have the right to the food, water and medicine that they need to be healthy – and again, many are denied these necessities.

In David J. Smith’s book, the many differences and similarities of children around the world are described against the context of the United Nations’ Rights of the Child - and it is evident that the living conditions of many children, especially in Africa and South America, don’t even begin to meet these standards.  

Readers will discover how very much the lives of children vary across the globe - and also how they are similar.  Explanations of the various declarations in the Rights of the Child are written in child-friendly language in this informative, sensitive book, and striking illustrations by Shelagh Armstrong will help to draw young readers into the lives of other children around the world. 

This Child, Every Child is one title in the series “CitizenKid”, which informs children about the world and inspires them to be better global citizens.  

** Recommended for ages 6 to 9 years.

This review appears in The Stratford Gazette on February 7, 2013. Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian.

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