I won a gift card to Powells at an ESL literacy conference I was presenting at a while ago. So I thought it fitting to finally buy a book I have been dreaming about for a long time: Where Children Sleep by James Mollison.

The book is  devastating in the best possible way: engaging, enlightening (without judgement), inspiring, heartbreaking. Mollison was asked to use his photography to raise awareness about children’s right around the globe, and he definitely rose to the occasion.

Mollison took portraits of children around the world and also took pictures of where they slept. The images are great for sparking discussions on inequality (and what constitutes happiness). I use these images in various ESL settings, but I think the book would be wonderful for older children as well (all the bio’s of the subjects are written with 9-13 year olds in mind, without shying away from the harsher realities of living situations). You can go to Mollison’s website to see more pictures yourself. Here are some of my favorites (if I can even use that word in this context).

jazzy, age 4. america.




alex, 9, brazil. addicted to sniffing glue, alex sleeps on a couch outside.




alyssa, 8, america.




no name, 4, italy. this boy and his family are illegal immigrants from romania. no one in his family have ever been to school.




The discussions these pictures have sparked between the hubs and me, and the students in my classes, are so valuable. The connection to the plight of children around the world is something I never want to be far from my mind. It helps us not get so comfortable here, makes me realize the true worth of our lives.






Another book I bought was What the World Eats by Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio. This is another collection of photos from around the world, this time detailing the amount (and variety and cost) of food that families eat in one week. It is staggering in the inequality, the visual equivelent of a record scratch. When I have shown this to students there are looks of sorrow and disbelief, of nodding heads in solidarity, in remember when they were hungry and only had one bag of rice to share with their extended family. The pictures from the refugee camps hit the hardest–but so too do the pictures of overweight low-income families struggling with diabetes and addicted to McDonalds.

The whole crazy picture of sin as it relates to food is laid out in this book.

To view pictures, TIME magazine posted two series of photos from the book. You can view them here and here.

Here are two of my favorites:





refugee camp in chad.




I am all for using realia in teaching, and you can’t get more real than this stuff. All of us would do well to keep these images at the fore fronts of our consciousness; many thanks to photographers for bringing the world in all its hurt and glory to our eyes.

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