Books Multicultural - Diversity Picture Books Reading Themes

Celebrating Diversity in “I am the World”

Myra here.

We continue to celebrate diversity through our current bimonthly theme Rainbow Colors of Diversity: Voices of the Silenced.


When I found this book from the library, I just felt that it was one of the perfect books to celebrate similarities and differences among people from all over the globe.


I usually do not go for photographs in the picturebooks that I read as I prefer stunning artwork, collage pieces, striking gouache, shades of watercolors. However, Charles R. Smith Jr.’s lyrical lines and gorgeous photographs made me appreciate this book. Each page is marked by photographs of children, young people, adults of varied ethnicities.


He seemed to have captured the essence of each individual and made them glow through his photographs, brightening them even further through his words. While there are a few that may be rightly perceived as ‘stereotypical,’ I felt that it was a heartfelt attempt at a representation of certain groups of people coming from that part of the world, while retaining a certain distinctiveness through the model’s character.


There is also a celebration of various foods and all its delectable goodness as can be seen in the photo above; as well as portraits of children who are differently-abled.

Rather than focus on how it may simplify the undeniable complexity of the human race, I think that this can prove to be useful for very young children as it demonstrates how these differences can serve as starting points for conversations about history, places, food, clothing.


And that ultimately there are fundamental similarities that bind this rainbow of colors together in one remarkable tapestry of humanity.

I am the World. Words and Photos by Charles R. Smith, Jr. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2013. Book borrowed from the public library. Book photos taken by me.

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Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

1 comment on “Celebrating Diversity in “I am the World”

  1. Awesome! It sounds great! 🙂


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