A Book with Gage – Off to Class by Susan Hughes

Does Gage look ready for school? I earned my English Education degree from Ohio State, but never really put it to use.  I was a substitute in the DC area for awhile and it was a good match for working in the library, and I hope my teacher training will help when Gage starts school.  I really want him to love school and learning.  Anyway, I agreed to review this book because it interested the educator in me.

Off to Class: Incredible and Unusual Schools Around the WorldOff to Class:Incredible and Unusual Schools Around the World by Susan Hughes

5 Stars!  I cannot recommend this book enough!  In my excitement did I forget to tell you what it was about?  Most of you reading this will have gone to school the traditional way-public or private schools with classrooms and teachers and tests and clocks.  What if you lived in the middle of the rainforest or in the mountains of Nepal?  What if your school was washed away by a hurricane or crumbled by an earthquake.  How would you learn?  This book, by highlighting 23 different schools in 14 countries, shows in beautiful pictures and words how very different cultures live and look at life and learning.

A few of the most unusual schools were the boat school in Bangladesh (the school travels to them during monsoon season), the solar school in the middle of the Amazon rain forest where there was no electricity or phones and access takes 40 hours by speedboat, the green school in Canada that does produce any waste that doesn’t go in the compost, the four child school in Iran, and the traveling school that teaches  the Evenks in Siberia as they are constantly on the move herding reindeer.

The schools are interesting, but the inspiration behind these schools is what sets this book apart.   Most of these schools were set up by someone who saw a need, a person just like you or me, and then found the funding and local help to make it happen.  These schools are there because people believe that everyone, no matter what caste, gender, or location deserves an education.  One university student saw a need for street kids in Columbia to learn so he set up cart schools to take to the kids where they lived and earned a living.  One student’s vision led to countless forgotten kids learning how to read, add, and take care of their bodies.

The layout really adds to the enjoyment of the book.  Each school has a two page spread, with lots of pictures, details, and facts about students around the world.  I think this would be perfect for any library and for any student who complains about going to school.  Recommended for ages 8 and older, but I was completely captivated by it.

This book was generously sent to me by Owl Kids.