Saturday, October 24, 2009

Readathon: Hour 2: If America Were a Village

If America Were a Village: A Book about the People of the United States by David J. Smith

If the World Were a Village is one of my favorite all-time books. I’ve always wanted to use that book at school to talk to kids about what people are like all over the world.

So I was very happy to see this new book, a sequel of sorts. And it is satisfying for someone such as me who loves statistics and who is always trying to figure out what makes people the way they are.

Smith reduces the 306 million people in the United States down to a village of 100 people. He does this to make it clearer to children (and grownup readers) what the people of the US are like.

A few random facts that interested me from the book:

“In 1900, 96 percent (of American immigrants) came from Europe….In 2000, 15 percent came from Europe, 49 percent came from Latin America, 31 percent from Asia and 5 percent from other places.”

“…Americans are not the top users of cell phones…the highest number, 158 per 100 people, in Luxembourg.” Why? I wonder.

“Americans are also the world’s top users of water….You’d need an Olympic-sized swimming pool to hold the water each American uses, on average, each year – about 456,000 gallons….” Whew! That’s a half million gallons of water for each person!

And in one day, Americans use 4 million plastic cups. Scary!

Another scary fact: “Sixty-five people (out of our 100) are overweight.” Oh dear.

I wish the pictures had helped tell the story a little more. For me, I would have liked pictures that enhanced the difficult concepts a bit more. A great place for thinking maps.

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