The If You Were Me and Lived in… series is a collection of books by Carole P. Roman that introduces the different cultures from around the world to its readers. She is an established author who has written an large collection of books. It is aimed for the younger set, from 4-9, but it is definitely not limited to that age group.
To say that these books piqued my interest is a bit of an understatement. I may or may not have whooped out loud when I received them in the mail. I will neither confirm or deny. But suffice to say that I have a very keen interest in these books.
I am the worst traveler in the world. I am severely scared of plane rides and I have vowed to never step onto a ship. When I’m in a different country, I stay close to the hotel and basically rely on my companions to do the adventuring and just kind of tag along. I’m terrible. But, I am determined not to pass my travel anxiety to my kids. This is why geography plays a big role in our daily lessons.
On South Korea
The first book we read was If You Were Me and Lived In… South Korea. H was particularly interested in this one, because she feels a strong connection to South Korea because of the food. She loves Korean food. While kids generally drag their parents to McDonald’s or some other fast food joint, H will do cartwheels just to eat at her favorite Korean restaurant.
H zeroed in on the details given by the book about family life in South Korea. She was amused that their word for mom (omma) and dad (appa), which are very similar to the more familiar mama and papa. It kicked off a great conversation on how people can have a lot of things in common, even if they are different from each other.
To reinforce what we read in the book, we tried to play ddakji, which is a traditional Korean game using folded pieces of paper. It is similar to the game pogs, although H enjoyed the paper folding experience more than the actual game.
The second book we read was If You Were Me and Lived In… India. When I had the chance to choose which books to review from the collection, I picked India because I thought it would be a fun lesson to conduct. India has such colorful traditions and is so steeped in history that it would be hard to distill everything to make it palatable for a five-year old and a three-year old.
I was ready to talk about the Taj Mahal and Holi and was very excited to show the kids pictures I pulled from the internet (“Gooble”, as H says.) The book talked about cricket, the sport, and how popular it is in India. When the kids heard the word “cricket”, they immediately associated it with the insect. We ended up using the book as a takeoff point to talk about the animals in India. I’m always so amused at how lessons can take such unexpected turns.
If You Were Me and Lived In… China rounded out lessons with these books. Coincidentally, I was just cleaning out some drawers and found some mementos from earlier travels. I found a few coins and some refrigerator magnets that made for great visual aids when we read the book.
The book on China was unique because it featured an actual picture of the Great Wall of China in addition to the usual illustrations. The kids were very curious about the wall so we spent some time learning more about it together.
I went to China when I was younger and even got to see one of the terracotta soldiers the book talked about. I told them it was a lot bigger than I expected. The kids were more invested in my story than they usually were. I suppose it’s because they had just read about it in a book, so it made it more magical.
On the Series
The books follow a general formula. It first introduces the physical aspect of the country, showing the shape of the country and its position on the earth. It shows a glimpse of everyday life, like the common names of people and what they eat. The books also mention famous landmarks, like the Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal.
I like that the books include proper pronunciations of the words written in the local language of the country being discussed. It’s such a small detail, but I thought it was very respectful of the culture and also very considerate for the one reading.
It was also nice that the book discussed these countries in the modern setting, since most books I’ve encountered usually dwell too long on the history of the country. While the past is interesting, it’s also important for books to make the point that these countries have developed and modernized as well.
These books are a great addition to any library and I would definitely be looking into getting some more. They are quick reads but packed with sharp details that make each country come alive for kids.
Find Carole P. Roman on social media:
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/CarolePRomanAwardWinningAuthorAndBooks
- Twitter: twitter.com/caroleproman
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/caroleproman
- YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6A9PDx7NdBgYUN1giUOp0A