If you are familiar with Williamson Kids Can! Books, you already know that they are very child-friendly activity books filled with creative ideas for fun and imaginative play. The book Hands Around the World: 365 Ways to Build Cultural Awareness and Global Respect is just as fun, but obviously even more important than a traditional activity book, as it is centered around helping us raise global citizens with compassion and respect for one another.
Susan Milord’s book approaches art and projects from the perspective of a year in the cultures of the world, with a daily focus on a specific cultural event. There are stories, foods, and arts from all around the world—as well as holidays that children may not be familiar with. I was afraid the book might be a little condescending from a Western perspective—which is always a risk in cultural education programs, no matter their intent—but so far, from using it, I haven’t seen anything like that. Western traditions are included in the book, providing it with a full global perspective rather than an “us versus them” mentality.
That said, the book does follow the Gregorian calendar—while mentioning that there are other calendars, such as the Chinese calendar and Jewish calendar, are also mentioned. Use of a world map is encouraged while learning from and playing with this book.
The book is easily organized like a calendar, which makes it simple to use. Just open up the current day’s date and you can start using it right away. Parents and teachers should know that some activities feature adapted materials when authentic ones will be difficult to locate; for example, there is an activity for making a turban in which most families may want to use any readily available cloth. Most activities are very safe, with a few exceptions that may require adult help with something like an Xacto knife.
Each week in the book features a fun tip or other helpful information pertaining to either that week or the entire program, such as utilizing climate information as well as topographical maps. Not every day features only one culture; for example, six different countries are highlighted on the New Year Celebration entry. Various traditions for New Year’s are also explored on a separate date, given that it’s such a big holiday.
I would recommend this book for any family and classroom. We live in a global community and it’s more important than ever to help our kids connect with and respect the people in not just their own neighborhoods, but in countries the world over entirely.