To Be a Kid

  • 1695

By: Maya Ajmera and John D. Ivanko

Unquestionably, to be a kid is the most exciting thing to be. With a foreword by Martin and Chris Kratt, creators of the PBS series Kratts' Creatures and Zoboomafoo, To Be a Kid presents the best parts of growing up. Filled with beautiful photographs, To Be a Kid celebrates kids as they play and learn, as they spend time with their friends and family, and as they discover their environment and the world. Kids, no matter where they are from, share this same wonderful adventure and at the heart of it a kid is just a kid.

Anyone who is a kid, was a kid, has a kid, or even knows a kid will love To Be a Kid. It is sure to be a favorite, the pages to be turned again and again.

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."

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John D. Ivanko, author

John D. Ivanko is an award-winning photographer and author, writer, national speaker, and conservationist who has done a fair bit of globetrotting. In 1992 John jumped off the corporate treadmill at an advertising agency to journey around the world on what has become known as his "quest for understanding." One year and 29 countries later, he returned to the United States with over 15,000 photographic images and stirring accounts of his journey. He never set foot in a cubicle again.

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Awards & Honors:

  • Early Childhood News Directors' Choice Award
  • Kids' Pick of the Lists
  • NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People
  • National Parenting Center's Seal of Approval

Editorial Reviews:

Kirkus Reviews

Harking directly back to Edward Steichen's classic Family of Man (1955,1983) in design and tone, this portfolio of full-color photographs captures children around the world joyfully engaging in common pursuits. The photos, captioned only by their countries of origin, are grouped thematically, linked by a few words of text--"To be a kid means playing ball…running races…or playing a board game"--and depict clean, well-kept young people busy, for the most part, with shared activities. A follow-up essay reinforces the message that the lives, needs, and goals of children the world over are very similar, though the details may differ. Without descriptive notes, many of those details may be lost on viewers, but the theme is a worthwhile one, appealingly presented.


This earnest, engaging, and enriching photo essay, introduced by Chris and Martin Kratt of PBS fame, celebrates the universality of childhood around the world. Children from Botswana to Canada to Ecuador share the commonality of families, school, play, creativity, animals, and friends. The well-chosen photos unite these themes through clever use of similarities in color and composition. The photo spread on street play shows one big game, with children from India, Cuba, Mexico, and Antigua. Whether in Mongolia or Haiti, kids beam with tender pride as they care for animals. Also special are the scenes that include a sense of place: white-peaked Alps looming over an Austrian playground or a tall palm tree being climbed by boys in Belize. The beautiful, simple, and resonant words and pictures are full of heart and spirit.

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Short, simple text names the basic needs and activities of kids everywhere: being carried by a caregiver, playing ball, caring for animals. But the photographs show the unique way these things are done in countries around the world. Differences in clothing, dwellings, and play are a feast for the eyes, while the connection to others is felt through the common aspects of life.

The Iowa Reading Journal

Through simple text and expressive photographs, To Be a Kid allows children to see the universality of being a kid. The book shows pictures of children all over the world doing the things that make them all children. It means going to school, playing ball, painting beautiful pictures, and dancing one's heart out. The pictures of the children are labeled by country, and in front of the book there is a labeled map so that the reader can locate where in the world each picture is from. At the end of the book there is a message that includes advanced language, which an adult or teacher may have to read to the children. This would be a reliable book to include in any home or classroom to expose children to the diversities and similarities of people all over the world.

Through The Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Children are often in such a hurry to grow up. They want to know what it is like to be an adult, they want the freedoms that they imagine adults have. What they don't realize is that being a kid is an "amazing adventure," and that their childhood is a precious time.

When you [are] a kid there are so many wonderful things that you can enjoy. It does not matter if you live in England or India, Kenya or Sweden. It does not matter what language you speak, or which religion you follow. There are certain things that are universal.

For all children childhood is a time when you can be "carried by those who love you," which is not something that adults can enjoy, alas. It is a time when the joys of summer are richer, and when marching in a parade is a grand adventure. Being a kid, no matter where you live on this planet, means that you can play with a ball or run races. It is a time of great creativity, when you can make music and create beautiful pictures. Best of all, "goofing off" and "acting silly" are things that children understand better than anyone.

In this very special book, simple yet powerful words are paired with gorgeous photos that capture everyday moments in the lives of children who live all over the world. The book shows to great effect how childhood experiences serve as a thread connecting all of us.

The book is a project of Shakti for Children, which is a program of the Global fund for Children.


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ISBN: 978-0-88106-841-2

ISBN: 978-0-88106-842-9

Board Book
ISBN: 978-1-57091-371-6

Ages: 4-7
Page count: 32

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