It Takes a Village

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
It Takes a Village Book Poster Image
Neighbors build playground together in cheery teamwork tale.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Shows people of all ages, backgrounds, genders, and abilities working together to make their community a better place. Shows the tools of the building trade: saws, hammers, shovels, ladders, lumber, etc.

Positive Messages

"Every child need a champion. Or two. Or three. Or more." "Every family needs help sometimes." "Kindness and caring and sharing matter. Playing matters too. And resting." You need the right tool to get the job done. In the Author's Note: "It takes a village to raise a child." "We are all in this together." 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Three unnamed kids seen on the first page take a leadership role and get the idea for a play structure, and then pitch the idea to their parents and people on the street by passing out flyers. The grown-ups help with design and building. Kids and grown-ups of various ages, ethnicities, genders, and abilities work together to reach their goal. The kids pass out drinks and fruit to the people working on the building project. 

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that former First Lady, U.S. Senator, and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's It Takes a Village is a simple story of a community working together to create a playground and build a play structure with bridges, towers, and slides. There are few words but lots to track in the charming illustrations by Marla Frazee (Boss Baby), as folks of diverse ages, ethnicities, genders, and abilities dig and build and plant, share drinks and fruit, rest, relax, and have fun together. (This picture book has the same African proverb-inspired title as Clinton's 1996 book for adults, which she published when she was First Lady.)

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What's the story?

In IT TAKES A VILLAGE, three kids get an idea for a playground and play structure below a big tree, and then pitch the idea to their parents and other grown-ups in their community, who step up to help design and build it. The kids help, too. The members of the community learn from one another and learn to "believe in each other."

Is it any good?

This upbeat tale of working together to make the community a better place has a positive message and wonderful, engaging art. The story told in illustrator Marla Frazee's pictures is the specific account of building a playground from scratch, following a kid-generated idea. But author Hillary Clinton's text is broader, building on the theme expressed in the title, It Takes a Village (which comes from an African proverb, "It takes a village to raise a child"). She offers truisms about kids and communities, such as, "Every child needs a champion. or two. Or three. Or more" and "Every family needs help sometimes."

The text is spare and reflective, with some lines that will zoom over the heads of young picture book readers, such as, "Children are born believers. And citizens, too." The ending call to arms is targeted squarely to adults: "Let us build a village ... worthy of all childen." But kids will be drawn in by the art nonetheless.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the teamwork shown in It Takes a Village. Have you ever worked on a project wth others? Was it fun even if it was hard work? 

  • How do the pictures help tell the story? 

  • The story talks about a village, but the playground looks like one you might see in a city park. How does the "village" idea work in the city? 

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