It’s rare that a book has you thinking every single time you kiss your children goodnight or each time you pick toys up from their bedroom floor. Where Children Sleep made a deep and lasting impression on me.
Where Children Sleep by British photographer James Mollison, is a large format photo-essay book focused on children’s bedrooms around the world. Mollison was asked by Save the Children to come up with an idea for promoting children’s rights and remembering how significant his own bedroom was when growing up, thought that bedrooms reflect much about who we are, what we have and the circumstances we live in.
Mollison photographed children from a range of countries including the USA, Mexico, Brazil, England, Italy, Israel, Kenya, Lesotho and Nepal. The photographs of bedrooms alongside a portrait of the child and some information about their circumstances is incredibly powerful.
My eight-year-old read the book cover-to-cover, quietly and thoughtfully. In the beginning he pointed out the “cool” details in Jivan’s bedroom (a four-year-old living in an ultra-modern apartment in New York with the kind of room that admittedly, we here at Babyology love) and marvelled at Kaya of Japan’s incredible collections (Kaya’s proud mother spends $1000 a month on her dresses). Those exclamations quickly gave way to observations that “some children don’t even have a bed” and I suspect that the images of Roathy from Cambodia who lives in a rubbish dump and Bilal, a Bedouin Arab living amongst rubble and his father’s goats at Wadi Abu Hindi, left a lasting impression.
It’s the small details that make this book charming and heartbreaking at the same time – Lay Lay, a Thai orphan who keeps all her belongings in a single drawer, American Schuyler who recently lost a few kilos by cutting down his visits to McDonalds from three times a week to just once a month and Lehlohonolo from Lesotho, a six-year-old who walks eight kilometres to school each day.
As Mollison concludes, “In the end, I hope the pictures and the stories in this book speak to children. Yes, so that lucky children (like I was) may better appreciate what they have. But more than that, I hope this book will help children think about inequality, within and between societies around the world, and perhaps start to figure out how, in their own lives, they may respond.”
Where Children Sleep is available from Emporium Books for $43.45.