Welcome to Uganda (Grace Pundyk; Welcome to My Country series by Gareth Stevens Publishing)

This was a wonderful basic-level overview of Uganda's history, government, and culture. The author provides very simple descriptions and explanations of the features of the Ugandan flag, its rivers and lakes, its plants and animals, and its history (including the terrible years of Milton Obote and then Idi Amin). She briefly mentions the existence of child soldiers, but does not explain that they are kidnapped from their families and forced to fight in the rebel LRA army. I suppose that may be a bit too much for young adult nonfiction, though.

I found these points very interesting:
-When a boy turns 15, he is old enough to serve in the Ugandan national army.
-In 1997, President Yoweri Museveni (still serving as President) introduced the Universal Primary Education program, which provides free education for up to 4 children in every family. If a family includes boys and girls, 2 of the students must be girls. If a child has special needs or some sort of physical disability, he or she must be given preference among applicants to local school programs. This program has increased the number of Ugandan schoolchildren from 2.5 million to over 6.5 million.
-Some Ugandans believe that their living elders can curse family members with illness or bad luck.
-Storytelling is a vital part of Ugandan life, and is even included in the school program.
-Popular foods are matooke, ugali, yams, potatoes, cassavas, and luwombo.

I think this book would be a perfect introduction to a 3rd or 4th grader to the Ugandan culture. I think that it would be good for them to read about how difficult it is for children to get an education in Uganda, and would likely prompt them to be thankful for the abundance of opportunities they have here in the United States.

Despite the number of books I have found about Uganda, I am pleased with the consistency in its story, even if I continue to be heartbroken over the plight of this country and its millions of orphans.

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