What We Wear: Dressing Up Around the World

What We Wear: Dressing Up Around the World

  • 1695

By: Maya Ajmera, Cynthia Pon, Elise Hofer Derstine, and the Global Fund For Children

What we wear can identify who we are: what team we play for or what team we root for, where we go to school, how we worship, or how we represent our heritage. What we wear expresses our individuality, and clothes can make us happy, confident, and proud.

Whether it’s a piper in a tartan plaid, a cowpoke in a cowboy hat, or a novice in ceremonial face paint, children everywhere wear different clothes and accessories for different reasons. But, one thing they all have in common is that they are all unique and beautiful.

In a celebration of clothing in bright, beautiful photographs of exuberant children from around the world, What We Wear: Dressing Up Around the World inspires young readers to explore the way clothing makes them feel and how it tells the world who they are. Backmatter encourages young readers to explore the way people dress in other countries and other cultures at folk festivals, at museums, and at home by asking about their own family heritage.

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.

Elise Hofer Derstine, author

Elise Hofer Derstine is a writer and farmer. She lives in Goshen, Indiana.

Read more about Elise.

Cynthia Pon, author

Cynthia Pon is the director of 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.

Global Fund For Children

The Global Fund for Children develops innovative titles that help young readers expand their appreciation of the multicultural world in which they live. Each book depicts positive images of children, promotes multiculturalism, and integrates the children's perspective into the text.

Read more about The Global Fund for Children.

Awards & Honors:

Coming Soon!

Editorial Reviews:

Publishers Weekly

Bright, uplifting photographs show children from different countries dressed in traditional clothing from each culture. Captions suggest context for the images; "Dressing up means celebrating who we are. . . and what we believe," reads one. A smiling child from Papua New Guinea wears a feathered crown and necklace, while two children from Ethiopia are adorned with decorative beads and shells. Another spread shows children from Japan, the United Kingdom, the U.S., and Malawi dressed in sports uniforms. Although the book doesn't include any specific information or details about the apparel featured, end pages suggest ways for readers to discover more about clothing worn around the world, both in the past and in the present.

School Library Journal

The simple text of this resplendent homage to our common humanity emphasizes global similarities, with one broad, feel-good statement per page, such as "Dressing up means celebrating who we are...." The narrative is accompanied by vibrant color photos of beaming children engaging in a variety of activities, from the mundane to the unique, dressed proudly in their traditional attire. Each photo is labeled with the country of origin, and a world map at the end highlights all of the nations featured. End materials include age-appropriate suggestions for further cultural exploration, feasible for both classroom and home use. This joyous follow-up to Our Grandparents (Charlesbridge, 2010) should be included in all preschool and elementary collections.


Celebrating global clothing and costumes, this book offers a collection of crisp, color photographs showing children dressed in widely varied ways for school, sports, play, and celebrations. The country of origin appears in a corner of each picture. A large -print text runs throughout the book, threading together the loosely organized pictures into a narrative with phrases such as, "We wear all the colors of the rainbow.../and paint our faces, and wear masks." Illustrating that one sentence are photos on double-page spreads, showing children in Ukraine, Ecuador, Iran, Brazil, Martinique, Canada, and the Philippines. The composition and clarity of the photos make these fine pictures, while the children's faces make them riveting. An appended section, titled "Discover Different Cultures," encourages readers to visit folk festivals, explore museums exhibiting clothing, and learn about the family origins, as well as how masks and costumes are made. An excellent addition to preschool and primary multicultural units.

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

This new entry in the Global Fund for Children series provides a simple, celebratory narrative about children's clothing and dress alongside vivid color photographs of children from around the world. Offering three or four pictures per spread, the book notes dress for occasions ordinary (school uniforms, sports uniforms) and special (festivals, religious events, celebrations,) with captions under each photograph identifying the relevant country. This is basically a list, and there's no additional information about the context of the photograph (not even identification of what sport the children are playing or what holiday they are celebrating), severely impairing the title's utility. The vibrant photographs of children bedecked, bejeweled and even at times bemasked are nonetheless engaging, and they could prompt conversational speculation or additional research to explore the pictured activity further. End matter offers ideas for learning more about international clothing and a suggestion for kids to play "let's pretend" with their own masks and costumes. Flaws aside, this is an appealing celebration of children around the world that will draw browsers and could elicit from thoughtful discussion. A map identifying the covered countries is included.

Library Media Connection

Often young children do not grasp the concept of diversity among world cultures. However, this brightly colored book utilizes large, full-color photographs to convey the message of celebration, religion, and cultural differences. Text is short and descriptive, photos tell the bigger picture. A world map is included to show all the areas the featured children come from. More comprehensive text describes festivities and origins of the clothing worn. The book also encourages readers to learn about their own heritage. Published in conjunction with The Global Fund for Children, part of the proceeds from book sales will be donated to support the fund.


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ISBN: 978-1-58089-416-6

ISBN: 978-1-58089-417-3

Ages: 4-7
Page count: 32

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