Celebrating Birth Around the World

9781410980151. ea vol: 32p. (Cultures and Customs). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Heinemann-Raintree. 2015. lib. ed. $29.32.
Gr 3–6—All humans commemorate life's milestones, and this set takes emerging readers to celebrations around the world. Double-page chapters describe how a wide variety of religious groups, subcultures, and nations mark important events, but books are short on background. Some spreads provide limited information about a culture or nation, including locator maps, but others merely describe ceremonies or rites, such as Hindu and Sikh weddings, with little explanation of their religious or cultural significance. The books don't explain the central tenets of world religions such as Islam or Hinduism, reducing the likelihood that readers will understand the importance of these ceremonies and customs. Sidebars, arts and craft projects, and large, average-quality photos supplement the text.
VERDICT These volumes demonstrate the universality of celebrations, but there are many extant titles about specific countries, cultures, and religions that cover them in a fuller context, making the series a supplemental purchase.
With clear texts and contemporary color photos, the books will generally inform young middle graders about birth and death rituals practiced by varied religious and cultural groups, but there are occasional lapses. Busy layouts include tiny, difficult-to-read maps. Birth features instructions for making tihu dolls, representing katsinas (Hopi spirits); Dead includes directions for Day of the Dead candy skulls. Reading list. Glos., ind. Review covers the following Cultures and Customs titles: Celebrating Birth Around the World and Remembering the Dead Around the World.

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