about the incredible privilege it is to have water readily available


by Barbara Kerley - National Geographic Society Washington DC, 2007
all ages, newborn to grownup / s.o.s.e., s.t.e.m.

This morning, I woke up and had a drink of water, then a shower, then put on some washing, all without ever once contemplating the incredible privilege it is to have water so readily available.

You probably did too, I guess.

And for children who have been lucky enough to grow up with water literally on tap, it's hard to imagine the level of work that some of the world’s people put in to have access to water. That’s a good thing, don’t you think? If only all the children of the world were in the same position.

Because not everyone can turn on a tap for clean water, and because water is something that is in limited supply, it’s great to think about water and water security every so often.

This book is a collection of photos from National Geographic that show people collecting and drinking water.

Every photo is respectful of both the subjects and of water generally. There are no photos of water being wasted or even used recreationally. A few simple words on each page are helpful in giving a framework to the pictures—they make it easier to read the book with children. 

But adults will also enjoy the wonderful and thought provoking pictures.

While it’s important and good for children (well, everyone really) to know about and feel invested in water security*, this book is also a pretty great way to emphasise connections around the world. It reminds us of one of the fundamental needs that connect us all—it doesn’t matter where you live, how you live or what inspires you, everyone is equally in need of a cool drink of water. And because everyone knows the thirst quenching, life enhancing feeling of that cool drink, it's easy to empathise with and feel connected to the people in the pictures.

In the back of the book, there are thumbnails of each picture with a little blurb about where the picture was taken and what's going on in the picture. 

It’s quite fun to spend time looking at each picture in the book and then guessing where it was taken. (Alright, by fun I mean interesting and the type of thing that, in our family at least, can get a bit competitive—so, you know, fun!)

Because the pics are so full of life, this book appeals to little ones as much as to adults—little ones very often find pictures of real people doing things they can relate to completely fascinating.

Amazon - Book Depository

Book Depository has free postage anywhere in the world and great pricing, but Amazon might be cheaper for North American readers. 

* The last pages of this book are about water conservation—did you know that the UN predicts that by 2025 two-thirds of the world’s population will be dealing with water shortages! If you want some more information on water security this UN page is a good start. Have a look at the water and gender page on the same site too—very interesting if a little infuriating.

Update January 2018: this article and this by John Hawthorne.