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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Review: Welcome to Afghanistan

Welcome to Afghanistan by Deborah Fordyce

This informational book gives a great in-depth description of the history, government, people, language, and culture of Afghanistan. The text in the book is written to be easily understood by children. Many words are written in bold and the definitions for those words can be found in the back of the book in the Glossary. After all of the information filled pages, there is a map of the country with all of the provinces drawn out and all of the surrounding countries labeled. There is a smaller map at the bottom of the page that shows where Afghanistan is on the whole world map. I think that is important for children to see. Many people, adults included could not tell you where all of the countries of the world are, so it's good to have a reference. After that is a "Quick Facts" page with fun facts about Afghanistan including the fact that the official languages are Dari and Pashto, the 2002 population estimate is 27,755,775, and the currency is called Afghani. $1 in 2003 equals 42.69 AFA (Afghani). The last page is the Index.

The pictures in this book are also authentic images of the country. This book is set up similar to the Eyewitness Books: Islam in that it provides a topic on each page, writes a paragraph about it and then has pictures. However, this book has far less artifacts and images on each page. Each picture has a few sentences of caption that explains the image and adds some additional facts.

One thing that I am surprised about in this book is that they discuss the Taliban and conflict with the Taliban but they do not mention the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. In the conflict section it says:
In 2001, American, British, and Afghan fighters banded together to overthrow the Taliban government (p. 14).
I just find it strange that the book mentions that the United States joined the fight without mentioned one of the main causes of the war. I had a couple of reasons for choosing a book on Afghanistan for my fourth informational book and one of them was to show that not everyone in Afghanistan is Taliban and part of the Sept. 11th attacks. I'm personally very interested in the Middle East as well. I've been enjoying quite a few historical fiction and realistic fiction books that take place in the Middle East over the last few years. I find the culture very fascinating and I love reading books about it. A third reason I chose this book would be to provide more multicultural information for students. If they are interested in this book, maybe they will become interested in historical fiction books about the Middle East as well! I have found some great children's books that I hope to read and review soon. Stay tuned!
Update: Here's one of them, One Green Apple by Eve Bunting.

This book is part of the Welcome to my Country series published by Gareth Stevens Publishing. There are many other titles including: Ukraine, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Morocco,  Bosnia Herzegovina, Kazakhstan, Columbia, Jordan, Singapore, Taiwan, Syria, Hungary, Jamaica, and Myanmar, to only name a few. I tried to find a website with information about the publisher and the series, but I didn't find any of the series books on Gareth Stevens' website.. I'm not sure why. Check out even more of the countries represented in the image below.

France, Peru, Sri Lanka, Haiti, New Zealand, USA, South Africa, Iran, Ethiopia, India
There are no listed resources for the writing of this book, but the author does include a section called "More Books to Read", "Videos", and "Web Sites" with lists of resources readers may be interested in for more information. I think it is great that under the "Web Sites" heading, the author mentions that some sites don't stay current for as long as others so they provide a list of keywords to use when searching for information on Afghanistan. Their suggested keywords are: Amu Darya, buzkashi, Dari, Hindu Kush, Kabul, Pashtun, Taliban.

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