I received a package of books for review several weeks ago, courtesy of Penguin Books. My eighteen-year-old, Brad, immediately picked up The Real State of America Atlas: Mapping the Truths of the United States by Cynthia Enloe and Joni Seager and thumbed through it. “This is going to be a good book,” he announced.
Filled from cover to cover with graphics covering topics such as the economy, immigration, education, and religion, the book is one that’s easy to pick up and peruse in small increments of time. Each double page spread includes a brief overview of the topic covered. Near the beginning of the book, the Who We Are section tells us that
“…the “typical American” is a White woman born in the United States of German ancestry. She is in her late thirties, living in a household with one or more family members (most likely she’s married).”
Maps of the USA break down statistics state by state in many cases and various sections compare the United States to the rest of the world. As a resident of oft-ignored Hawaii, I was happy that the authors include both Hawaii and Alaska in most of their maps of the nation. Pet peeve averted!
“Check this out,” Brad says, poring over the pages. “In 1992 42% of America knew someone who was gay or lesbian. In 2010, 70% did.”
We discussed the fact that this is probably not because there are more gay and lesbian people in the world, but rather as attitudes (slowly) change, gay and lesbian people are being more openly themselves.
When my sixteen-year-old had a chance to read through the book, he too found it fascinating and read tidbits out loud to me. This is one of those books that sits on the kitchen table ready for the next person to sit down for a snack or lunch to thumb through it. It is really very fascinating and because of the graphic format, even elementary aged kids would be able to pull out interesting tidbits. For instance:
- 64% of US newspapers shrank the space they devoted to international news, 2007-2009.
- From 1960-2010, Americans with no religious identity rose from 3% to 16%.
- 11% of students in kindergarten through grade 12 are in private schools.
A book that intrigues both of my kids (not to mention my husband and me) and starts interesting discussions? That gets high marks around here.