Teaching Global Citizenship and Universals Using Children's Literature: "This is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids Around the World"

By Lisa Buchanan posted 10-22-2017 06:48:09 AM


“This is me. This is where I live.”

This book review is the second in a series of reviews of exemplar children’s books for teaching social studies. Building on the first featured book in this series of reviews, Mirror, by Jeannie Baker, I have selected a second title which features cultural universals as well as global families and basic concepts of geography.

This is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids Around the World  by Matt Lamothe is a nonfiction picture book released in 2017. In this book, Lamothe uses simple prose and vivid illustrations to guide young readers through the stories of seven children from Italy, Japan, Iran, India, Peru, Russia and Uganda. The seven elementary aged children narrate their daily lives through family portraits, housing, and transportation, examples of common meals, and school. An excellent glossary explains the academic vocabulary used throughout (e.g., vineyard, metropolis, Caspian Sea). The predictable text and sequence really invites young readers along as Lamothe introduces each of the seven children. This is How We Do It includes a full spread map which identifies each country of origin for the children and the author, too. An important feature which helps extend the message of global citizenship is the author’s narrative of the experience in doing the research to write the book. Lamothe is also the illustrator. This is How We Do It is written for young learners in Kindergarten through third grade.

You and Me: How Are People Around the World Similar and Different?

As a teacher, the most important aspect of this title is the conversational dialogue that each child offers about their family, home, school, playtime, and daily routines. Each of these universals provide windows and mirrors for young learners who encounter the book in the classroom. Similar to Mirror by Jeannie Baker, This is How We Do It is an additional starting point for conversations around diversity and mutuality. Like Baker, Lamothe provides a description of daily life that is relatable and a pattern of writing that students can follow along with as they share aspects of their own daily lives through discussion or writing.

Potential Classroom Applications for This is How We Do It: Global Citizenship and Cultural Universals

This is How We Do It is especially useful as an anchor text in a larger study of global citizenship and universals. An anchor text (also sometimes named a mentor text depending on the writer) is a rich piece of literature used to build foundational content knowledge or an ELA skill. Anchor texts are used repeatedly in a unit of study (e.g., read and then reread again as a review or before introducing a related text or application activity).

Global Citizenship Focus
Location as Related to Others, Human Interaction, Place
Cultural Universals Focus
Family, Transportation, Education, Shelter, Meals

ELA Goals
Students will read and respond to informational texts.
Students will identify text to self and text to world connections.
*If used with other titles featuring cultural universals or geography, students will identify text to text connections.

Compelling Questions
Where do the 7 children live in proximity to your home? 
Which of the children’s stories are mirrors to your life? Why? Which stories are windows? Why?
How is your life connected to the lives of the children in This is How We Do It
What does it mean to be a global citizen? 
If you could ask two questions to each child, what questions would you ask?

Application 1: Use Mirror by Jeannie Baker and This is How We Do It, complete a compare and contrast of the two texts, identifying the cultural universals depicted in each title (e.g., text to text connections) and separately as well as universals not depicted in either title. Lead students in a guided writing of a Venn diagram or other organizer.

Application 2: Sign up to participate in the Global Read Aloud in November! Network with fellow teachers and their classrooms by connecting through the Global Read Aloud Facebook Group or Edmodo Group specific to the book you select. Finding this post too late? No worries! This occurs every fall, so keep it in mind for next year!

Application 3: Partner with the Peace Corps World Wise Schools Speaker Match Program to learn more about a specific country. This simple and free program matches classrooms with Peace Corp representatives to help children learn more about places around the globe. The Peace Corps World Wise Schools Speaker Match Program’s stated mission is to “increasing Americans’ understanding of other peoples and cultures.” Have students prepare questions for the speaker around global citizenship and cultural universals.

Application 4: Use Mystery Skype to create a contact with a class in one of the featured countries or another location around the globe. Using the National Geographic Kids’ Interactive World Map, complete basic research related to your Mystery Skype guest’s location.

Application 5: Using VSCO or Padlet, create a class grid of universals for each Skype class; share the grids with one another prior to your second Skype session and record questions students have for the other class after reading their grid. Use the asynchronous Skype session to ask questions that resulted from reading each other’s grid.

Additional Resources

The following resources are helpful when planning a larger unit or for teachers who want to expand their approaches to global citizenship. Black Ants and Buddhists: Thinking Critically and Teaching Differently in the Primary Grades by Mary Cowhey is a must read if you are interested in developing children’s capacity for understanding others around the world in relation to their own lives as global citizens. If you are looking for a short read on fostering open-mindedness related to others with children, Merry Merryfield’s Four Strategies for Teaching Open-Mindedness in Social Studies and the Young Learner (2012) provides basic guidance for getting started. The iEarn Project offers over 100 global projects for classroom teachers; browse their website for global citizenship project ideas. The film Life in a Day by National Geographic depicts daily life in 192 countries around the world. It is an excellent resource for classroom teachers for helping students conceptualize global citizenship and universals. Given the full length (95 minutes), most teachers will find using selected segments  to be the best use of the film.

The following children’s books can be joined with This is How We Do It as a thematic text set for teaching the five themes of geography or cultural universals:

People Peter Spier
Hungry Planet: What the World Eats Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio
Material World: A Global Family Portrait Peter Menzel
Everywhere Babies Susan Meyers
Bread, Bread, Bread Ann Morris
Hats, Hats, Hats Ann Morris
On the Go Ann Morris
Shoes, Shoes, Shoes Ann Morris

Dr. Lisa Brown Buchanan is an Associate Professor of Elementary Social Studies at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. If you have questions or want to share feedback on this blog post, please email Lisa at buchananl@uncw.edu.

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