4 Stars Out Of 5
Engaging Language-Based Journey
March 2, 2014
Passport to the World is a unique journey around the world based on languages. Opening with an account of the tower of Babel where the world's one and only language was split into a wide variety of language families, the book then goes on to cover one language and a focus country for each letter of the alphabet.
There is a map-based table of contents in the front identifying all of the included languages and focus country names with page numbers. English is assigned to Australia, Cherokee to the United States, Welsh to the United Kingdom, Xhosa to South Africa, and so on. Clearly, the assigned country isn't the only place these languages are spoken, nor is it the only language spoken in that country, but again, the focus is on language groups and not as much on geographic divisions.
If you'd like a list (and can't guess from the flags on the front cover - don't worry, I don't know them all either!) we have:
Armenian in Armenia, Bengali in Bangladesh, Cherokee in the United States of America, Dutch in the Netherlands, English in Australia, French in France, German in Germany, Hebrew in Israel, Icelandic in Iceland, Japanese in Japan, Korean in South Korea, Lithuanian in Lithuania, Mandarin in China, Norwegian in Norway, Oriya in India, Pashto in Afghanistan, Quechua in Bolivia, Russian in Russia, Spanish in Mexico, Turkish in Turkey, Ukrainian in Ukraine, Vietnamese in Vietnam, Welsh in the United Kingdom, Xhosa in South Africa, Yoruba in Nigeria, and Zulu in Swaziland.
The inside cover of the book includes a 'real' passport book that your child places a sticker of a passport stamp in once she has made a visit to each country (stickers at the back of the book). She can date the stamp with the date she read each country's entry.
Each language is given a two-page spread featuring the demographic facts of the country it is being associated with in the book. A colourful picture a child (or children) from today who speak the language is included beside a map of the country, an image of its flag and other photographs of interest (a special favorite here is the picture of someone in traditional or historical costume). Facts on currency, special foods, interesting facts about the language, other languages in the country, geography tidbits, etc. Are also given on each spread. My children's favorite parts were always the 'Speaking' section where the same four words were given along with a pronunciation guide: hello, goodbye, thank you, and peace and the part of the page where a proverb originating from the culture was given.
The back of the book comes with "Country Facts at a Glance" section, giving demographics for population, life expectancy, literacy, square miles, internet users, and monetary unit for each country for each comparison. It also includes two quiz pages for practicing the names of the flags of all the countries and identifying them based on their shapes. A page of resources for learning about and caring for children in other countries around the world is also included at the end of the book.
We've used this book as a free exploration resource in our homeschool, just having it available for the children to enjoy (and oh, they have enjoyed it!) The pictures of other children their ages, the exotic languages and foods, the different types of money, it's all been so engaging and intriguing. The glossy, visual appeal of each country's two page section has really drawn them in.
My oldest daughter has loved this book! I think the key that has really kept my oldest coming back for more as she moved through the book is the passport and stickers. I only wish I could buy additional stickers and passports for it for her younger siblings. While she was reading through it, she would approach me on a daily basis to try out her new vocabulary words, show me pictures of the children, and tell me about what she was learning.
Passport to the Word has been a lovely, language-centred jaunt around the world that focuses not as much on a unifying theme as it does on a unifying format.