A Teacher's Guide to Room Enough to Share: A Family in Colombia


14 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 1-894110-20-X
DDC 306.85'09861





Susannah D. Ketchum is a teacher-librarian at the Bishop Strachan School
in Toronto. She also serves on the Southern Ontario Library Services


In 1981, Hélиne Tremblay decided to research and photograph families
the world over. Readers familiar with Families of the World: Family Life
at the Close of the 20th Century, volumes 1 and 2 (Old Bridge Press,
1988 and 1990) will know what pains Tremblay took to visit and live with
families that best represented each country. She looked, always, for a
family of average size, earning the average national income, living in a
typical house, and reflecting the typical standard of living of the
country. The resulting volumes are gold mines of information about the
countries represented.

The new Families of the World series lives up to its predecessor. In
this series, however, each book is limited to one country, making it
more accessible for the student who needs to do research on a single
country. Many titles have been excerpted from the original series, but
some (Germany, the Netherlands, and Portugal) explore new countries. All
are profusely illustrated and have been skilfully adapted to appeal to
younger readers.

Each book begins with a picture of the family visited, giving the name
and age of each family member. The same page lists the animals owned by
the family. The principal part of each book describes a typical day or
period of time. Although this section is occasionally told in the third
person, more often it is related as though by a member of the family. It
may take the form of a straightforward narrative, a series of journal
entries, a collection of letters to the reader, or a photo essay. The
variety of styles makes it possible to read the entire series without
ever losing interest.

Family narratives are complemented by “Where in the World Is ...?”
and “More about ...” sections. Each book finishes with a glossary.
The selection of glossary items occasionally seems rather eccentric.
Why, for example, define “feast” but neither “poverty” nor
“facilities” (Chanthan’s Journal)? As well, the world maps in the
“Where in the World ...” sections are so small that tiny countries
are difficult to locate. On the other hand, the “More about ...”
sections include many of the facts that young researchers will need,
including, in every case, the literacy rate for the country.

CCIP suggests putting these books in 306.85 (family).
Teacher-librarians may prefer to classify each title in the appropriate
geography and travel number (915.96, 916.891, etc.).

While the text will be difficult for early ESL students, most level 3
and level 4 ESL students should be able to use these books. Armchair
travelers of all ages will enjoy the series. Highly recommended.

Like the books they accompany, the teacher’s guides shrug off the
restrictions often imposed by a series format. Each guide has been
tailored to reflect the book it accompanies. Each includes suggested
activities in language arts, social studies, mathematics, science, and
food experience. Many of the guides also include sports, arts and/or
music sections. All make frequent references to specific quotations from
the book, giving page numbers.

Individual highlights include Xinmin’s Story (China), which gives two
charts, one illustrating how characters are combined to form compound
words, another encouraging children to try writing a few simple Chinese
words. A chart in Chanthan’s Journal (Cambodia) shows the numbers from
1 to 10 in Khmer and gives students the opportunity to try to write
these numerals. One of the activities in A New Life in an Old Village
(Portugal) helps students compare gender roles.

Each book in the series includes an annotated bibliography; some are
more up-to-date than others but all are worthy of attention.

Of special interest to the busy educator are the many evaluated and
annotated Internet sites included in each guide. The sites include
country-specific Web pages as well as general ones on weather and
currency conversion. The authors, well aware that URLs have a nasty
habit of disappearing, offer tips on tracking elusive sites. Highly


Chan, Thomas V., and Deborah J.L. Haughland., “A Teacher's Guide to Room Enough to Share: A Family in Colombia,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 22, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/19592.