Around the world in 24 time zones

by Wendy Lawrence

It takes awhile for kids to understand the whole notion of “time”. My three-year-old, for example, will ask for a “3-minute” snuggle and to time it, he will do one of two things: he will either count to 3 (this at least makes some sort of sense) or he will count down to 3, starting from some arbitrary number like 10 or 20 (and if it’s 20, the counting down isn’t often that linear). Either way, when he gets to the predetermined number, he decides that his predetermined time is up.

Another thing he does is talk about the past with all sorts of incorrect descriptors. “Remember last year when we ate oatmeal?” he says about that morning’s breakfast. Or “remember yesterday when we went to Seattle?” he says about last year’s trip. You get the picture. It will all fall into place at some point, of course, but in the meantime, I enjoy the vocabulary lapses immensely.

atthesamemomentTitle: At the Same Moment Around the World
Author: Clotilde Perrin
Genre: Picture Book, History, Culture, Science

This book won’t teach him any of that. BUT, it is related to time. When we go on trips, we often try to talk to our kids about the time zones. This has little effect, as you can imagine, given my previous description of what we are working with. But this book might help us out.

At the same moment around the world, by Clotilde Perrin is a beautifully conceptualized, written, and illustrated book about the time zones. It’s a long and skinny book with only 24 scenes. It starts with an illustration of a beach and a ship and says

It is six 0’clock in the morning in Dakar, Senegal. Keita wakes up early to help his father count the fish caught during the night.

The book moves through the world, stopping next in Paris where Benedict drinks hot chocolate before school, then to Bulgaria, Baghdad, and Dubai. It travels through China on the New Year and Japan and Russia before crossing the Americas, where a girl in Arizona watches a night train pass through the desert. It stops in one place in each time zone before returning to the original picture again. Keita and his dad are counting fish but on the first and opposite page, our focus is now on the boat we had seen earlier.

At the same moment, on a ship in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, it is five o’clock in the morning when Chloé finds herself tired from dancing all night.

I love everything about this book–the prose, the illustrations, the very idea of it. I love the way each page’s illustration continues to the facing page’s illustration, even though each is a different story in a different place. I love the diverse set of characters, places, and actions, and the way it makes a very abstract idea incredibly tangible.

This would be a wonderful book to read to kids before a vacation that crosses time zones. It would be great to compare this book to a world map and find all the places mentioned. Kids could then find other places that share a time zone with the place in the book and could ponder what kids in those cities might be doing at those times of the day. It would be a fun activity for a wide variety of ages, a good thing to do on an airplane ride or a rainy day. And anything that helps kids see that the world is both big and small is a good activity.

3 Comments to “Around the world in 24 time zones”

  1. For time zones and global thinking, I highly recommend the book Somewhere In the World Right Now by Stacey Shuett
    great illustrations and makes the point of someone waking while somewhere else people are sleeping, etc. Good for ages 3-8.

  2. I especially love the idea of asking children to think about what kids on the other side of the world are doing at that moment. lt makes reading a more interactive and engaging experience for both the child and the parent – and probably provides some funny, memorable answers! 🙂

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