Thursday, December 13, 2012

13 Photos Children Should Know

One I want to get! Thanks, Christa Osborne, for your reflection.

Finger, B.  (2011).  13 photos children should know.  Munich:  Prestel Publishing.

"Hey Mom...what's that a picture of on the front of that book?" 
Informational books must appeal to a child.  Check!  As I was preparing to write my blog post this week, my daughter was sitting across the living room staring at the book I was reviewing.  She was immediately drawn to the photograph of the fireworks over Beijing during the 2008 Olympics.  The colors were so brilliant that she thought it was a picture of the sun.  Since I had her attention, I thought why not ask her opinion of the photos in the book.  (She is eleven and the days where she wants to converse with me are becoming few and far between!)

As we read the pages of the photo essay book together, she was brimming with questions.  How long ago did that happen?  Who is that person?  Why would anyone do that?  Do you really think we walked on the moon?  She asked all of the questions that this book should make a child ask.  It not only showed excellent photographs of historical moments, it gave explanations of the events surrounding the pictures.  While she was familiar with many of the photographs such as the Moon Landing, Martin Luther King and the Oil Spill in the Gulf, she didn't always know the story behind the picture.

This book combined social science and humanities in a way that made it appealing to my daughter.  It was not a 'history' lesson as much as it was an album of events.  The descriptions of the photos, as well as the quizzes throughout the book gave it a very different feel.  The crisp, clean photographs coupled with font that was clean and easy to read made the book appear more like a magazine article about the subject. 

In the forward of the book, the author explains the way this book is put together.  It will show 13 photographs of some of the most important events, people and places over the last 100 years.  This is when we are also introduced to another fabulous aspect of this book:  the glossary.  While the descriptions are straightforward, the author has asterisked some words that the meaning of may be more difficult for younger readers.  The asterisked words are located at the back of the book with complete definitions.  Additionally, each photo topic has a timeline at the top of the page.  It gives the reader some of idea of world events that occurred at the time of the photo or during the life of the subject.  It helps to give a 'big picture' view of the history of the photo.  While this book is listed as ages four and up, the subject matter focuses on world events that might be confusing for a younger child.  I would recommend this book for older children, third grade and up.

Reading this book with my daughter was also a great reminder for me of how many things that happened in my lifetime are foreign to her, just as it was for my parents' generation and so on.  While 1989 doesn't seem all that long ago to me, in my daughter's time frame, that was forever and a day ago.  But what was even more interesting was the fact that she could put that '20 something' years ago information into a very real field of knowledge and realize that it wasn't really all that long least not in a historical time line.  Although let's face it, forty is almost ancient in the human time least in my daughter's eyes.

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