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Page history last edited by RichiesPicks 13 years, 5 months ago

26 May 2009 IF AMERICA WERE A VILLAGE: A BOOK ABOUT THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES by David J. Smith and Shelagh Armstrong, ill., Kids Can Press, August 2009, 32p., 978-1-55453-344-2

Wikipedia defines demography as "the statistical and mathematical study of the size, composition, and spatial distribution of human populations and how these features change over time."  And so one can teach a new vocabulary word and concept when explaining to students how IF AMERICA WERE A VILLAGE provides a great lesson in demography. 
But, more importantly, by imagining America to be a village of 100 people and then providing answers to a series of questions about the make-up of those 100 villagers, David J. Smith offers readers the invaluable opportunity to look beyond the ends of their noses and their own neighborhoods in order to get a broader and more objective view of the three-hundred-and-six-plus million people ("1 birth about every 8 seconds and one death every 12 seconds") who collectively make up these United States of America.
The questions addressed in the book include:
"Where do we come from?"
"What religions do we practice?" 
"How old are we?"
"How wealthy are we?"
"How healthy are we?"
I have spent most of my life living in four places.  I grew up in Plainview and Commack on Long Island; lived my years right after college in Southampton, Long Island; and have spent the second half of my life here in Sebastopol, California.  Are these places like the U.S. as a whole?  Not even close!  Thus, many of the facts I learned from this book are as surprising to me than they will be to younger readers.
"A new immigrant arrives every 27 seconds," and "In our village of 100 about 13 are foreign-born."
For instance, like Holling Hoodhood from THE WEDNESDAY WARS, I have repeatedly lived in communities in which a large percentage of the families was Jewish.  That only 1 person in our U.S. village of 100 is Jewish means that there must be vast regions of the United States where Jews are as rare as...well...as rare as the people of African descent were in the Long Island suburbs where I grew up.  (Our U.S. village of 100 has 9 people of African descent.)
IF AMERICA WERE A VILLAGE continues on to provide contrasts between the demography of America and that of the rest of the world.  Particularly striking are comparisons of material wealth along with the fact that our village is responsible for "21 percent of the world's total" energy consumption and that we are "the world's top users of water."
The U.S. village of 100 (which was closer to 50 when I was born) is a place that readers will understand a lot better after getting their hands on IF AMERICA WERE A VILLAGE.

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