According to UN calculations, the world’s population is expected to reach 7 billion sometime today, October 31, 2011.

That’s an incredible number, one that’s hard for even adults to wrap their heads around. But what about kids? When I told my boys about this milestone, I could see they were struggling a bit to grasp the enormity of it.

So I pulled out a fantastic book I bought a few years ago, that is just perfect for the occasion.

if the world were villageIn ‘If the World Were a Village‘, author David Smith invites young readers to imagine the world as a global village of 100 people, with each person representing 62,000,000 people in the real world. Since its publication, the population has already grown enough so that today, each person in Smith’s village would have to represent 70,000,000 people! But that does not take away from the book’s value in any way…

Smith discusses nationalities, languages, ages, religions, food, air and water, schooling and literacy, money and possessions, and electricity, in ways and numbers that kids can grasp. It finishes with a view of our village in the future, as well as resources on teaching children about the earth’s population.

Some stats that surprised my kids (and even me, if I’m completely honest!)

  • Of the 100 people in our global village, only 30 people have enough to eat. 50 are hungry all or some of the time, and 20 are severely undernourished. This is despite the fact that there is enough food to feed everyone: it is just not divided equally…
  • 32 of our villagers breathe air that is unhealthy because of pollution.
  • Of the 73 people over age 15, 17 cannot read at all.

Breaking 7 billion people down into a village of 100 really helps kids (and adults!) with some of the staggering numbers. I highly recommend it, as it has spurred some great conversation in our household today.

I was excited when I found this video animation of the book, that highlights some (not nearly all!!) of the information:

Also, be sure to check out National Geographic’s special year-long series on the population, with articles that cover specific issues—demographics, food security, climate change, fertility trends, managing biodiversity—
that relate to global population. As part of the series, they have just released a limited-time only free 7 billion for iPad app that is full of informative videos, interactive maps, in-depth articles, and stunning photography. Have not had a chance to explore it too much, but it looks fantastic!!

And finally, a great NG video to share with the kids:

Are you discussing 7 billion at home or in your classroom today? Any good resources you could share with us?

Happy Reading!