Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Me and the World, a book to explain visualization to children

Last night my seven-year-old-daughter finally understood what I do for a living. For years she thought I “design maps” —which isn't incorrect, but it's not the whole story— and she knew I also create histograms like the ones she's drawn in school to measure the distribution of heights of students in her classroom. But I don't think that she fully realized that “information graphics” is a field and a job until we read Yo y el mundo (Me and the World), a book by Spanish authors Mireia Trius and Joana Casals, together.

Yo y el mundo is an Information is Beautiful-like book —an assortment of fun infographics— specifically for children. Each spread is devoted to a topic, and the variety is astonishing. You'll find graphics about what people in different countries eat for breakfast, the cities with the worst traffic in the world (Miami, where we live, is the 10th,) in what months children are born more often, the most spoken languages in the world, where children have more or less homework, and many others. The book is even useful if you want your kids to understand how important it is to source graphics; all sources are credited in an appendix at the end.

So, recommended reading even if you don't speak Spanish. You can figure out the content of the graphics regardless. I know it because I gave a copy as a gift to a friend of mine —a native English speaker— and his daughter immediately seized it and spent hours poring over it.