Sunday, February 9, 2014

Faith by Maya Ajmera, Magda Nakassis, and Cynthia Pon

Published in 2009

Faith is a nonfiction book that was developed by The Global Fund for Children, a nonprofit organization located in Washington, D.C. that is committed to "advancing the dignity of children and youth around the world."  Their primary purpose is "to teach young people to value diversity and help them become productive and caring citizens of the world." Part of the proceeds from this book are donated to the organization "to support innovative community-based organizations that serve the world's most vulnerable children and youth" (back endpaper). This book definitely meets that objective.

This beautifully illustrated book is about the size of a sheet of paper, 8.5 X 11, and is set in landscape orientation, which would make any reader feel comfortable and at ease with its size and shape. The illustrations are actual photos taken by various copyright holders, which make the book appear realistic. As I read the text, looked at the pictures, and turned each page, I felt like I was reading a National Geographic Magazine. As a matter of fact, the jacket front cover photo was taken by Joel Sartore, a National Geographic photographer.

Many religions from around the world are included in the text. Most of the illustrations are framed photos of children and are strategically placed on each page to indicate the differences between each faith. Each photo has a caption that identifies the particular religion and provides a country where the religion is practiced. Some photos bleed to the end of the page, which make them appear larger than life. Religious practices are also depicted in the text and pictures, and the children appear joyful as they practice their faiths.

There were several aspects of this book that I found particularly helpful. There is a world map at the end of the book that identifies the countries from where the children portrayed in the book actually live and practice their faiths. The countries are labeled in bright colors, and the entire world is represented. In addition to the map, there is a section which includes "Elements of Faith." This section describes and defines how the children actually practice their faith. Finally, there is a "Words to Know" section, similar to a dictionary, that I found beneficial. Many religious terms that might be unfamiliar to readers are defined in this section.

Faith would be an excellent way to introduce world religions to children because it doesn't get into the more controversial aspects of faith such as intolerance, religious persecution, and terrorism, which is, in fact, taking place all over the world.

I am grateful to live in a country where diversity is often celebrated and embraced, but I couldn't help wondering while reading this book, how well this book would be received in countries such as China, Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Pakistan, or Afghanistan, where women's rights and religious diversity are not so freely celebrated and embraced. It doesn't surprise me that this book was published in America.

Maya Ajmera Website
The Global Fund for Children
National Geographic Magazine
National Geographic Magazine for Kids
Image Source

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