For quite a while I’ve been interested in the politics of water, I once tried to explain to a group of undergraduates how important water and the access to it has been throughout history. They were not impressed. Water is the stuff of life, and has always been that way. But living in the United States, children (including undergraduate students) do not comprehend the complexities and absolutely essential nature of water because it is always there when we need it. However, access to clean water is not universally available, and even for those who can access clean water, many have to travel outside of their homes to get it.
This summer, as part of our Summer Reading Program on “One World, Many Stories,” I plan on doing a program on water an its significance world wide. Hopefully this will be more successful then my presentation to the undergrad students in Ohio. To prepare, I’ve been reading non-fiction books about water around the world. Here are a few of the titles I’ve read.
A Cool Drink of Water, Barbara Kerley, A beautiful national geographic picture book that just talks about how universal water is, by showing people around the world drinking water and highlighting some of the places that they go to get the water. It is a nice introduction for very young kids to the idea that water doesn’t always come from the tap, but that it is something that draws us all together.
Our World of Water: Children and Water Around the World, Beatrice Hollyer. This book goes into more depth about the ways water works in the lives of 6 children from around the world. The pictures really bring the different culture and climates to life, demonstrating that these are real kids dealing with issues of water scarcity. The child from Ethiopia is a good example of how some kids’ lives are controlled and consumed by their need for water.
One Well: The Story of Water on Earth, Rochelle Strauss. This book takes the broadest perspective, covering the water cycle, water use, and the need for conservation. One of the strongest points the book makes is that while the amount of water on earth remains constant, the distribution is uneven, and that there are limited supplies of easily accessible clean water. It is a good introduction to the many ways water is crucial to life on earth.
These three books make a nice introduction to the importance of water around the world. I’m still looking for more titles, so any suggestions would be welcome.