Despite the United States’ increasing involvement in world affairs, American children remain woefully uninformed about the geography and cultures of other countries. Many young adults today lack basic geographic knowledge that would be almost unthinkable a generation ago. “Geographic illiteracy impacts our economic well-being, our relationships with other nations and the environment, and isolates us from the world,” National Geographic president John Fahey.
About 11 percent of young citizens of the U.S. couldn't even locate the U.S. on a map. The Pacific Ocean's location was a mystery to 29 percent; Japan, to 58 percent; France, to 65 percent; and the United Kingdom, to 69 percent. A survey found that many children considered geography their least favorite subject out of six school subjects.
Geographic illiteracy is a problem that only can be tackled by making the subject more interesting to students. Such teaching methods include taking children on field trips and developing hands-on activities related to the world's cultures, regions, people and environment.
“In a diverse and ever-changing world, it is imperative that our children learn about the world: its peoples, places, and cultures,” says Karen Shariati, author of Meet Arzeen: Citizen of the World (Arzana, Inc., 2006). “Before hearing negative reports about any particular group of people, it’s best for children to raise their cultural awareness, one kid at a time, without any of the political or religious slants.”
What can we do to teach our children more about the world around them? Shariati’s mission is to inspire children with her book, to learn just how diverse our world truly is and to initiate a genuine curiosity in children. To learn a new appreciation for their own cultures as well as increasing tolerance for others. “The world is filled with so many people, all with unique cultures and traditions,” says Shariati. “While we may speak different languages, wear different clothes, eat different foods, and even live in different types of homes, we are all from one world and we are all basically the same. It is important to cherish our unique backgrounds, but more important, to be understanding of our differences.”
Meet Arzeen is the perfect starting point for young readers to develop an interest in the world that will lead to discussions and further learning. Vivid illustrations enhance the learning experience and will allow children of all ages to enjoy the book. The main character Arzeen travels to countries in all the continents and shares information regarding the world map, continents, country names, capital cities, flags, indigenous peoples, animal and plant life, major attractions, cultural events, and terrain.