Monday, February 13, 2012

Technological progress

After I finished reading The Genius of Islam: how Muslims made the modern world by Bryn Barnard (609 BaG 2011)(which I enjoyed and recommend), I was reminded of another series of books in the Doucette Library that also pertain to other cultures that advanced technology outside of North America and Europe. 
The We though of it series (by Annick Press) highlights successful inventions and technological innovations of different groups of people from around the world. 

 The series started with The Inuit thought of it by Alootook Ipellie (970.0049712 IpI 2007)showcasing how Inuit peoples met basic needs using mostly local resources in response to harsh environmental conditions.  From wood or antler snow goggles and kayaks to parkas and methods of food preservation, many of these items still exist in some form today. This book leaves the reader with a new appreciation for the  resourcefulness of the Inuit and their technological ingenuity.

The follow-up book is A Native American thought of it by Rocky Landon (970.00497 LaN 2008). I was a little concerned by the title, wondering if it was going to be too general about the technological innovations of First Nations peoples. And, while I certainly got the feeling that Natives across North America (both Canada and US) did fulfill their needs in diverse ways, sometimes the book felt too unspecific.  The best section is ‘shelter’, describing the many different kinds of houses developed by Natives from all over North America.  Other sections are little less successful in showing the diversity of approaches across North America. Descriptions of tools, for instance, are sometimes attributed to a geographical area (Northwest Coast, Eastern Woodlands, Plains, etc.) without many specifics given. When no geographic area is ascribed, then I’m guessing that the technology or tool (skinning hides and bow and arrows for example) applies to most Native groups wherever they lived.  The photographs for the most part are attributed to specific tribes.  I think this book is just trying to cover too big an area to effectively cover all areas evenly.  We do come away knowing that First Nations peoples were, and are, very innovative.

The next books in the series move away from North America.
 The Chinese thought of it by Ting-xing Ye (609.51 YeC 2009) and African thought of it by Bathseda Opini (960 OpA 2011) are very informative following the same format of the first two books: maps, timelines, sections covering basic needs as well as aspects specific to cultural development such as music, arts, and sports.  Good overviews with examples drawn from vast geographical areas with diverse cultures within them.

The next book to be released in March is Latin Americans thought of it by Eva Salinas.

Overall, I like the series and love that it brings our attention to technological advancements that developed in other places and times outside of North America.  Good introductions that could lead into deeper discussions and research.
Suggested for grades 3-6.

 Today is Nonfiction Monday, a round-up of blogs focused on nonfiction children's liteature.  Stop by Wrapped in Foil for  a look.


Roberta said...

Having seen "Africans Thought of It," (which was nominated for a Cybils) I have to agree this is a useful series. I'll to look for some of the others.

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