Monday, January 28, 2013

Review: Africa for Kids; Exploring a Vibrant Continent

by Harvey Croze.Chicago Review Press, 2006. (review copy from IPG). I am enjoying this engaging, fascinating, factual book on the continent of Africa. It is full of colorful photos, maps, diagrams, artwork and detailed information on a wide variety of aspects of life in Africa. There are 19 features hands-on activities that children can complete with some help from an adult. All in all it is a wonderful way to explore what "some people consider to be the most important continent in the world."

 What I love about this book is that it includes so much information in down-to-earth, understandable language. Divided into three sections on the continent, habitats, and people, it covers science (soil erosion, geography, map making, global warming, ecosystems, boidiversity, animal behavior, climate, rivers, habitats), art and music (how to build a bamboo flute, write an African fable, make a snake bracelet, wrap a kanga skirt or headband, paint a mural, build a bivouac shelter, bake cassave chips), and civilizations and social structures (history, clans, tribes, hunting, agriculture, colonialism, human rights, war, health challenges, governments, languages, future trends). Also included are many sidebars that offer both background and specific examples of the concepts presented from Apartheid to Tic, Tac, Toe, an historically African game. It's an education wrapped in fun.

This book came to us as just the right time for our family. My 7 year old had a school project due this month that required him to present an aspect of his family heritage for the class. In Africa for Kids we were delighted to read about the game of Mancala, which we love to play. We learned that it is the oldest board game in the world and has been played in Africa for 3000 years. I took an adorable photo of him playing it and shazam! Project nailed! He also learned that the continent has 53 countries, a fact with which he has been able to impress several adults who were unaware of that detail.

The amount of information presented and the depth of specifics makes this an ideal book to have around as children grow. For a second grader the broad background, particular illustrations, animal facts and simpler projects are right on point. As the children grow they will be able to read the longer passages about social and cultural interactions, history and current challenges. It is a well balanced and comprehensive volume, from explaining wind and water interactions in the natural environment to explaining particular eating and clothing preferences for different cultural groups through time, and quoting key points of view from leaders such as Wole Soyinka and Nelson Mandela. This is a wonderful addition to school and family libraries and comes highly recommended.

Today's Non-Fiction round up is hosted at Laura Salas's blog here. Enjoy!

5 comments:

laurasalas said...

64 countries--really? I had no idea. This line of Chicago Review Press books are awesome, and this one looks like another winner. Thanks for sharing, Andi!

Andromeda Jazmon Sibley said...

Sorry Laura, I had that wrong. LOL I had to do some fact checking myself and right on page 104 it says "There are 53 independent countries in Africa". That was in 2006 and the number may be different now...

Ms. Yingling said...

I'll have to include this in the World Wednesday round up. This looks interesting, but books about countries do date so quickly.

Andromeda Jazmon Sibley said...

By all means Ms Yingling - count me in! I am planning on blogging more in the coming weeks and will have more reviews to link to your World Wed. roundups.

Roberta said...

I agree with Laura, Chicago Review Press books are wonderful. They can be used so many ways, as you suggest.