Children of the U.S.A.

Children of the U.S.A.

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By: Maya Ajmera, Yvonne Wakim Dennis, Arlene Hirschfelder and Cynthia Pon

Celebrate the diversity of the United States!

There is no typical American child. Children may share similar activities and pastimes, but they represent a variety of ethnic, cultural, and religious backgrounds. Striking photographs showcase fifty-one cities -- one from each state, as well as our nation's capital, Washington, D.C. The photos and facts feature common activities and interests, as well as varied foods, languages, entertainment, sports, and other examples of daily life throughout the country.

Part of the proceeds from this book's sales will be donated to The Global Fund for Children to support community-based organizations that serve the world's most vulnerable children and youth.

Look Inside the Book:

Author Bios:

Maya Ajmera, author

Maya Ajmera is the creator and spokesperson for Children from Australia to Zimbabwe: A Photographic Journey Around the World and co-author of the global education guide, Raising Children to Become Caring Contributors to the World. Maya is the founder and executive director of SHAKTI for Children. In the January 1999 issue of The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Maya was named among "A new guard of non-profit leaders...that will shape the charity world in the next century."

Read more about Maya.

Yvonne Wakim Dennis, author

Yvonne Wakim Dennis draws on her multicultural background for many of her ideas. She is American Indian/Arab, grew up in rural Pennsylvania and attended college in southwestern Ohio during the 60's.

Most of Dennis' books are creative non-fiction about contemporary American Indian life, but she has other projects in the works, too. They include a children's book highlighting diversity in American cities; bios for kids on famous designers and artists, short stories about New York City American Indian women and a quirky and smart novel for kids.

Read more about Yvonne.

Arlene Hirschfelder, author

"Ever since I penned my Master's thesis about the treatment of Indians in high school history texts, I have been determined to help set the record straight."

Arlene B. Hirschfelder is an educator in tobacco history and an authority and public speaker on youth involvement in tobacco control activities over the past one hundred years. She is also a widely recognized scholar on contemporary Native American issues, has published over a dozen books in the field, and has worked as a freelance editor and author of curricular materials about Native American ceremonial tobacco use and tobacco abuse for the National Cancer Institute project reducing Cancer Risks Among Native American Youth.

Hirschfelder earned a B.A. from Brandeis University and an M.A.T. from the University of Chicago. She lives in Northern New Jersey.

Read more about Arlene.

Cynthia Pon, author

Cynthia Pon is the former director of The Global Fund for Children Books. She is the co-author of Children of the U.S.A. She lives in Washington, D.C.

Read more about Cynthia.

Awards & Honors:

  • Bank Street College's The Best Children's Books of the Year
  • Moonbeam Children's Book Award--Gold Medalist in Multicultural Non-Fiction

Editorial Reviews:

School Library Journal

This book celebrates the nation's diversity by highlighting more than 100 cultural and ethnic groups in 51 communities, among them Clarksdale, MS; Portland, ME; Dearborn, MI; Tahlequah, OK; and Washington, DC. A spread is devoted to each one; all have several bright photos that show children engaged in a variety of activities and a box of basic facts (e.g., population, nickname, languages spoken). Unfortunately, the text and illustrations are not always well coordinated, and some captions are misleading by omission. For example, in discussing Macedonian culture, the text about Fort Wayne mentions the "gajda (bagpipe), the tapan (a traditional wooden drum), and other Balkan musical instruments," but the photo shows a girl playing the violin. Still, by sharing some of the history of Native peoples and immigrants who have formed this country, as well as customs and foods, the authors give children the opportunity to learn about tolerance and respect as they discover many common threads. The goal of this book is worthy, even though the format limits the amount of information given.


Celebrating connections and differences in America today, this photo-essay, published with the cooperation of the Global Fund for Children, combines lots of color photos of smiling young people with a clear, informative text, boxed quotes, and quick facts about American children in 51 communities across the country. Arranged alphabetically by state, the text and pictures show locals having fun eating, attending festivals, playing sports, and much more. The kids range from Inupiat living in Barrow, Alaska, and Irish, Italians, and Portugese in Boston, Massachusetts, to Muslims in Louisville, Kentucky, and Hmong in Providence, Rhode Island. The bibliography includes a list of Web sites and resources for both children and adults who want more. Kids may not be able to find their own community, but they'll discover plenty that seems familiar.

SWON Libraries

Engaging photographs from a variety of photographers highlight this photoessay which features one city or town in each of the fifty states. The narrative included with each state showcases the town\'s personality, emphasizing the multicultural aspects, however small, though sometimes it seems this may not be a fair characterization of the area. Not so savory past events are not shied away from, especially if they deal with civil rights and unfair treatment of minorities. Overall, it is a worthwhile title that students will pour over and may even learn something new about their state! I would love to see the authors tackle other continents, such as Europe.

Library Media Connections

Published in conjunction with the Global Fund for Children, this book provides readers with a brief introduction to their peers around the United States. The authors chose one city in each of the states to write about. There is a two-page spread for each of the 50 cities and one for Washington, D.C. The authors did a good job of picking cities of varying sizes, and readers may even be introduced to cities they have never heard of. The text includes information on the climate and a bit about the different groups who live there. Each page has a Fact Box, which includes: date city was founded, population, youth population, city's nickname, languages spoken, and any sister cities. The book is illustrated with color photographs, some of which appear to be colorized and have unnatural colors. The photos do not always relate to the text, although all photos have captions. The book would be a great addition to a Read Around America program, as it introduces readers to peers throughout the nation. Recommended. Jane Mouttet, Instructor, Cono Ana Commmunity College, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services

“Children of the U.S.A.”, the latest book from the Global Fund for Children, celebrates the lives and rich culture of children across 51 cities including the nation’s capital and one city in each state. The book especially resonates in Dearborn, Michigan, showing members of the Maples Elementary School Arabic Ensemble evoking the sounds and rhythms of various Middle Eastern musical traditions. While in Wheeling, West Virginia, young members of the Our lady of Lebanon Church enjoy the dancing and tasty treats at the annual mahrajan. You can even find out how children in Clarksdale, Mississippi, came down with the blues, and learn how to knuckle-hop from kids in Barrow, Alaska.

Through vibrant photographs in hundreds of local communities, Children of the U.S.A showcases the kaleidoscope of ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds that shape the lives of kids in this country. The children of the United States have important insights to share. As a nine-year-old Arab American remarked, “My friend is African American and she likes me a lot! I taught her an Arabic word and she taught me how to braid her hair.”


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ISBN: 978-1-57091-615-1

Ages: 8-11
Page count: 128
8 12 x 11

If you like this book, you’ll enjoy these:
Children from Australia to Zimbabwe: A Photographic Journey Around the World
Children of Native America Today