A new back-to-school tradition

By Elise Derstine | August 9, 2019 | Africa & The Middle East, Asia, Europe & Eurasia, The Americas | Education

Yesterday my five-year-old son became a kindergartener. As we got him ready for his first big day, everything reminded me of my own back-to-school rituals as a child.

Biking down to the school with him in the sunshine. Watching him line up with his buddies outside the classroom. Adjusting the shoulder straps on his tiny blue backpack (adorned with dinosaur patches, of course).

And for our family, I’ve decided back-to-school time will include reading Back to School by Maya Ajmera and John Ivanko. This gorgeous, photo-illustrated children’s book shows what Back to School looks like for children all over the world.

While parts of the book seem exotic to my kids (like the photo of children in Myanmar taking a boat to school instead of a bike or school bus), the real beauty of this book is in its universal resonance. Everywhere – in Cote d’Ivoire, Cuba, India – children are learning, making friends, and discovering their world through school.

Co-author Maya Ajmera is founder of Global Fund for Children, and has authored more than 20 children’s books. In fact, children’s books are a huge part of GFC’s story: proceeds from Maya’s first book, Children from Australia to Zimbabwe, supported GFC’s very first grants back in 1997. Since then, Maya and other authors (including me!) have collectively developed more than 30 books under the imprint Global Fund for Children Books.

The new kindergartener gets a hug from Mom on his first day of school.

Back to School was originally published in 2001, but the 2019 edition features new images and fresh text. Proceeds from sales of Global Fund for Children Books continue to benefit GFC’s work with local organizations serving children around the world.

Though the books cover a range of topics (my kids especially like Be My Neighbor, which shows homes and neighborhoods in different cultures and climates), they all feature positive images of children, whether they live in Kenya, Canada, or Cambodia. I love that these books challenge stereotypes and encourage a global perspective, even in very young children – if you haven’t yet fallen in love with Global Babies, you’re in for a treat.

Going to school is indeed “a big step toward growing up,” as the authors write in the afterword of Back to School. As a parent, I’m happy to help my son see himself as part of something bigger – a world full of children who, like him, are ready to learn.

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Global Fund for Children (GFC) UK Trust, created in 2006, is a UK registered charity (UK charity number 1119544). We work to generate vital income, create new fundraising opportunities, and raise awareness of the invaluable work of GFC’s grassroots grantees. Our aim is to extend the reach of GFC in the United Kingdom, Europe, and beyond.

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