Author Margriet Ruurs begins this engaging informational picture book by posing an intriguing question: “What is a school? Is it a building with classrooms? Or can it be any place where children learn?” The fascinating stories that follow will expand how young readers think of school, as they learn about the experiences of real children in thirteen different countries around the world. From Marta in Azezo, Ethiopia, and Luciano in Mérida, Venezuela, to Alina in Taraz, Kazakhstan, and Lu in Shanghai, China, the children who are profiled live in places that truly span the globe. However, while there are huge differences in their environments, all the children share similar desires to learn, read and play with others. Alice Feagan’s charming cut-paper collage artwork further enhances the idea of a global community by featuring smiling, enthusiastic children’s faces, which are equally joyous and filled with life in every situation.
As with all the titles in the popular Around the World series, using a familiar concept such as going to school is a perfect way to introduce children to other cultures and places in social studies classes. The author has provided several resources at the end of the book, including discussion topics and a list of organizations that help children access education. A world map at the beginning of the book shows the location of each of the countries, and a glossary contains definitions of the foreign words. These, along with a table of contents, make useful tools for familiarizing young readers with book navigation.