Nomads: Life on the Move by Kinchoi Lam (Cicada Books, May 2023) is a middle-grade-level nonfiction picture book that illustrates the lives of those living today with a nomadic lifestyle. With eight pages (four two-page spreads) dedicated to each of seven unique nomadic cultures, Nomads teaches about the home structure, family cultures, and traditional food and clothing for those who still do live an isolated and on-the-move life. Also included for each group is a map of where the group typically lives, details on how they move their homes, and what the future may look like for them.
Homeschooling history books occasionally discuss a nomadic lifestyle as the precursor to pre-agricultural society. But as far as I know, modern-day nomads are not a part of any children’s educational material that I have seen. Kinchoi Lami’s illustrated book thus provides a needed overview of these unique cultures around the world. Nomads teaches about the Roma (mainly in Europe), Nenets (in the Arctic Circle), Mongolian nomads, Tuaregs (in the central Saharan Desert), Maasai (along Africa’s Great Rift Valley), Yanomami (in the Amazon rainforest), and Sama-Bajau (off the coasts of the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia).
The illustrations in Nomads, which appear to be wax pastels (according to my limited art-discerning abilities; please correct me if I’m wrong!), suitably match the educational tone of the book, all the while adding bright color and life to the variety of landscapes and clothing shown. Paragraph text on each page shares main points, and captions under illustrations add more details. The variety of images on some pages make it scannable for children browsing. The beginning and end of the book have two pages of text as an introduction and conclusion, respectively. The last page provides a glossary as an overview to all the cultures included in the book.
Nomads would be a great book to include in an elementary or middle school study of world cultures. Lifestyles around the world change in a modern era, and while these nomadic cultures sustain some of their ancient traditions, it’s important to recognize the unique aspects of these also-changing cultures. Their cultures will unfortunately not always continue as they currently are.
I read a digital review copy of this book.