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Seeing the World Around You



This book might not look like a book for children as you look at it, but it really is.
Photography is not at all an easy one to get children into, even more than other visual arts, for various reasons.
There are several good picture books to help children approach paintings for example.

Seeing things: A kids' guide to looking at photographs was published in 2016, and a year later in Italy, where is has been awarded the 2018 Andersen prize as best non-fiction book.
It includes a selection of full page photographs with notes by Meyerowitz to guide the reader to look at them and read them. The text appears in different font sizes to make it stand out more and put emphasis on different concepts.
It definitely is a book for older children (6+) that has different reading levels and can be approached in different ways, starting from the visual part and going deeper in the 'guide' as the child shows to be ready to take more detail in.
Joel Meyerowitz is a legend. How could I possibly not buy this book?
He is a street photographer in the tradition of Henri Cartier-Bresson and is known for his pioneering use of colour, in an era where black&white was considered the only possible art in photography. He started working on the streets of New York in the 60s, and has been on the streets for fifty-five years since then.
"Street photography was the only form of the medium that owed nothing to painting nor to the other plastic arts. It's purely photographic".  
He is a Guggenheim fellow, published over 25 books, his artwork has appeared in over 350 exhibitions around the world.
He was the only photographer to gain unrestricted access to Ground zero after 9/11.

Why did I choose a book about photography instead of a maybe 'easier' one about paintings?
Photographs are in our (and our children's) everyday life. We take pictures all the time with smartphones, and loads of videos too.
But I see two issues with that. Firstly, they see photographs as 'disposable matter', while this book encourages to get to know photography in a different way.
Secondly, the generation of our children tend to prefer videos to photographs, they are getting addicted to that kind of engagement.
If they hear some music they might look around for a screen, and if they look at a picture they might ask why it doesn't move.
Although this process is kind of inexorable, I see the importance pf helping them to focus on just one of their senses, and appreciate different dimensions of experience.
There can of course be motion in a still image too, It's a matter of seeing things.


"That moment of seeing is like 
WAKING UP.
What you notice will reflect 
the way the world speaks to you, 
and only to you.

You may, or may not be able
to change the world, but the world can
certainly change you".

Joel Meyerowitz


Seeing Things: A Kid's Guide to Looking at Photographs
by Joel Meyerowitz
English edition by Aperture
Italian edition by Contrasto [Guarda! La Fotografia spiegata ai ragazzi]
Reading age: 6+
Themes: Non-Fiction, Visual arts















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