NaBloPoMo Post #4: Children Just Like Me

November 4th, 2009

Finding children’s books with pictures that represent a wide variety of children is a challenge to say the least.

When we first started our adoption process this book, Children Just Like Me, was recommended to us by several people. And I totally lucked out, I found it for $5 at a used book store.

It’s a great book. It has a wide variety of countries covering major parts of the world. It is pictures of real children and their families and their homes or schools, a few of their toys and descriptions of all the pictures. Except for Ethiopia. Every child in the book is shown with their family. Except the Ethiopian children. For the section on Ethiopia, the children featured are orphans.

Did the authors/photographers really have that difficult of a time finding one family in all of Ethiopia to interview and photograph?

I had one person say “Well, it really is kids just like Milo.” And true, Milo was an orphan in Ethiopia but this simply perpetuates the stereotype of Ethiopia that it is a country unable to care for their children. That’s not how I want my son to view his birth land. That’s not how I want anyone to view Ethiopia.

Am I calling for a boycott of the book? Do I want it removed from libraries? Not used in schools?

No. The rest of the book is extremely valuable and beautifully done.

I think what I am asking for is two things.

1. For people to realize that how they represent a country or people group may be the only small information some people may read on that particular topic. And, personally, I don’t want the world just assuming that Ethiopia is a country full of orphans because it’s not. It’s much, much, more than that.

2. For parents, teachers, grandparents, baby-sitters, anyone who reads books to kids to look carefully at the books they are reading to children and the message the book is sending.

Just to clarify, we do own this book. But for now, it will be put away until I can find enough other books that show real kids in Ethiopia with their families to balance out the picture.

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