By: Brandon Stanton
Published by: Farrer Straus Giroux, 2014
Brandon Stanton is the creator of the #1 New York Times bestselling book Humans of New York. To create Little Humans, he combined some of his favorite children’s photos with a heartwarming ode to little humans everywhere.
One of the reasons I love children’s picture books so much is that they offer a fantastic opportunity for introducing young children to characters that they can relate to. These characters help children explore emotions, adventures, and many of life’s triumphs and challenges in very imaginative and playful ways. Because children have such vivid imaginations, they can often very easily make these connections even if the characters are squirrels, monsters, fish or inanimate objects like crayons.
Little Humans offers this same experience of connection, but in the unique sense that the characters in the book are real children. In a similar style to his huge literary success Humans of New York, Stanton traverses the streets of New York snapping photos of children and their families as he captures the essence of the childhood experience. When I read this book with some of my students, they excitedly pointed to the pages shouting, “I’m the same!” It was obvious that they appreciated seeing real representations of characters in a book that they could so easily identify with.
Stanton purposefully keeps the text simple and bold while he describes all of the wonderful aspects of daily life for a little human. He includes everything from helping others to finding independence to needing a good hug, showcasing how every moment of a child’s life should be celebrated and cherished. The simplicity of the text also makes this book accessible for young students who are becoming comfortable with reading independently.
I think this book has many possibilities for valuable lesson extensions in the classroom. I would love to use Little Humans as an inspirational tool to create our own “Little Humans of Kindergarten” project, where photos of the students would be taken and compiled into a class book, complete with captions underneath each photo. I can only imagine how wonderful of an experience it would be for the students to see themselves in their own version of Little Humans! It is also a great platform for generating ideas on ways in which the students are the same or different in comparison to children in the book, with the aim of helping my young students continue to forge an understanding of their own sense of identity.
After reading Humans of New York many times, I was excitedly anticipating the release of Little Humans for the new school year, and it did not disappoint. Stanton created a text that both children and adults can enjoy by delivering candid photos of his subjects paired with simple, yet meaningful, text. Little Humans will surely not be making an exit from my book bag any time soon.