Faith by Maya Ajmera, Magda Nakassis, and Cynthi Pon celebrates religions all over the world. Published in 2009, Faith is compiled of real, fascinating photographs of authentic people around the globe. This book is a wonderful introductory text to religious diversity for children. The background color changes to a new solid color with the turn of each page and the photographs are brightly colored too. The text of the book is large and is not too difficult for young readers. Captions accompany the photographs very clearly. Faith discusses all types of religions like Rastafarian, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, and others. It gives brief descriptions of the different ways that religions celebrate their faith, their holidays, and their customs. The photographs feature children of races and religions all over the world.
I love the use of photographs as the cover, front matter, and back cover. This book would be helpful for teaching nonfiction text features. After the main body of the book, there is a world map that labels each country that features a child in the book. How INCREDIBLE is that?! My students would love to put their map skills to use and see where in the world these children are from. The “Elements of Faith” section in the back of the book reviews the general aspects of religion in greater detail that in the first half of the book. It goes into detail about prayer, chanting, singing, holy books, listening, cleansing, holy places, and more. That would be very helpful for younger students, especially for those that have not had any experiences with religion. Then the “Words to Know” section afterward would surely prove to be very helpful for children expanding their vocabulary. It acts as a general glossary for the religious vocabulary in the book.
Religion is another sensitive subject in the world today and especially in schools. We try to keep a separation between church and state. But that does not mean that children should not be exposed to the diversity of religions in the world so long as the teacher shows no bias. I am excited to read this text to my class of second graders. I think they will enjoy the book because my class is always fascinated with the customs of others. My one negative criticism of the book is that there seems to be a lot going on within the pages. My eyes had a hard time figuring out where to look first because of the organization of text and photographs and I worry my students may as well.
I purchased my own copy of Faith for my classroom for a few reasons. It teaches children a simple, friendly, unbiased message about the various religions available to them. Also, it teaches the message that people are people no matter their religion. Lastly, it has an underlying message of good values in all religions and parts of the world:
“We respect others, making friends and building peace. We give to others, and we help those in need. Most of all, we hope.”
After all, if we do not have faith and hope, what DO we have?