Thursday, March 5, 2015

Winter Reading 2015 The Red Bicycle


The books from Citizen Kid always have a good story to tell, one that also provides information about different places around the world and what children can do to help others. In this case, the story begins with a boy named Leo in the U.S. He saves for two years to buy a bicycle. He rides it everywhere and takes excellent care of it. When he outgrows it after several years, it still looks almost new. The bicycle shop owner tells Leo of a program that collects bikes and sends them to people in poor countries that have no other transportation. And Big Red's journey to Africa begins. The book continues with two other owners and their stories with the bike and how it impacts their lives. I particularly like the last illustration, which shows a winding road with Leo, Alisetta, and Haridata (the characters from the stories), each riding Big Red. 

The book does a good job of telling and showing the positive impact that the bicycle has on the lives of the owners in Burkina Faso, without being maudlin and sappy. It also gives a sense of daily life in that part of Africa through the illustrations and the occasional use of local dialect like pagne, dolo, or draff. And there are the mention of practices such as using bicycles as ambulances, or crocheting bags from plastic. As with most Citizen Kid books, there is a section at the back of the book with information on what you can do to help, information about the country shown in the story, and notes for parents and teachers on how to use the book and build on it with other activities.

The books from this collection are very useful as read-alouds to introduce the study of other cultures, to show examples of how children can help others through charitable organizations, and to look at economic practices in third-world countries. By tracking just one donation, they bring to life the impact that can be made and how it can spread and be "paid forward" over and over.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

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