School Days Around the World by Margriet Ruur and illustrated by Alice Feagan (Kids Can Press, 2015) captures Malala’s vision in the epigram at the beginning: “I don’t mind if I have to sit on the floor at school. All I want is education.” In the cut-paper collage illustrations, the stories of real children around the world come to life. Although School Days is a short picture book, it covers a variety of ways people receive an education around the world. Obviously, it does not capture all countries or situations, but it does provide a nice overview in an easily accessible format. I loved that the stories were based on real people!
As a homeschooling parent in the USA, I was interested to see how various countries would be treated. I was delighted to learn about 13 different children in 13 different types of schools. Some of them were more formal schools, but it was interesting how many of them were short school days. I cannot help but think ending school at lunch time is definitely a great way to go about it, but then I’m biased! The USA focuses on sisters who are homeschooled in Alaska, because they are too far from schools to attend them. The Canada child is in a First Nations schools. Others share a classroom with 70 others (500 in the school), and only go half a day because another 500 children gather in the evenings.
The school settings may have been different but the children seemed familiar, and that is why children will embrace this book! The children told about their favorite sport (badminton), what they wanted to be when they grew up (a pilot and a musician were two), what they liked to do during the recess after lunch, and what they did when they came home after school. Although the learning environment was different for each child featured, I love how universal childhood and learning can be. I highly recommend School Days Around the World!
Note: I received a digital copy of this book for review consideration.