By Maya Ajmera, Magda Nakassis, and Cynthia Pon
Is a powerful word.
What is faith?
All religions have faith.
In something, or someone, or some place.
The story faith, by Maya Ajmera, Magda Nakassis, and Cynthia Pon, enlightens us to the innocence of children and the diverse religious cultures in today’s society. The photograph on the cover zooms in on the face and hands of a young boy praying. The text begins with, “In our world, there are many faiths. We celebrate our faiths in many different ways.” Through the remainder of the book the authors use the word, “We,” while making powerful statements about faith. By using the repetitive language of the word, “We,” the authors help to bring me in as part of the text. They successfully were able to convey that it does not matter if there are differences in what religion we are or in what we believe—we all still have similarities—which are mentioned using statements like these:
“We read our holy books.”
Does it matter which one?
“We chant and we sing our songs.”
Does it matter to whom?
“We mark the important events in our lives.”
Does it matter how, or which events?
Accompanying each powerful statement are pictures of children practicing religious customs from around the world with captions briefly explaining the picture and the location. At the end of the book, there is a map of the world with labels of all the places the children who were photographed came from. It is very easy to see that all continents, with the exception of Australia and Antarctica, were represented throughout the book.
While looking into the eyes of some of the children, I almost felt as though I was watching a Save the Children commercial. I see innocence and hope. I see love and compassion. The pictures truly are breathtaking. Many pictures zoom in close and allow us as readers to feel as though we are a part of the moment. Others zoom in so that we can stare into the eyes of the child. In all pictures, regardless of size or distance, we can sense the love for each other and family.
This book can be very informative for both adults and children. In the back of the book, there is a section titled, “Elements of Faith.” This section provides further information on each brief statement from the text. For example, one statement was, “We respect others, making friends, and building peace,” and in the Elements section there was a section titled, “Caring for and Helping Others.” In addition, the book has a glossary of important terms to further explain the pictures in the book. By putting these sections in the back of the book, the authors were able to send a powerful message in a way that all people, young and old alike, could understand. A picture is sometime worth a thousand words—and the authors chose to write a few words and let the pictures do much of the talking. In the back, they explained further for those who may be interested. It was a wise decision not to include this information throughout the book because I believe it would have taken away from the power of the message as it is currently written. Also, it allows the reader to determine their comfort level with the religious information provided in the book.
Just like how Julius Lester explains that our bones all look the same in the story, Let's Talk About Race, Ajmera, Nakassis, and Pon all explain that although our religions our different, there are common threads that bring us all together. With understanding and acceptance, we can learn so much from each other and live in a world filled with peace.
Part of the proceeds from the sale of this book is donated to The Global Fund for Children. Visit their website at www.globalfundforchildren.org in order to learn more about the foundation and one of the authors, Maya Ajmera.