Material World: A Global Family Portrait
Material World: A Global Family Portrait



Material World: A Global Family Portrait

(4 customer reviews)


A fascinating living geography book that highlights families around the world, pictured in front of their houses with all their possessions. Used in all of the Visits To… geography notebooks. See full description

Add to Wishlist
Add to Wishlist

SKU: matwor-p Category:

Product Description

In Material World an award-winning photographer traveled the world and took pictures of families standing outside their houses with all of their possessions beside them.

Plus, the author includes first-hand accounts of his time with the families and provides candid photographs and notes that give an even deeper peek into various cultures. It is amazing what valuable ideas can be discovered by seeing each family member’s favorite possession, what they hope to have in the future, and what daily life is like in countries around the globe!

This book, Material World, and its companion volume, Hungry Planet: What the World Eats, have been on my coffee table for years. I’ve watched people of all ages be drawn to the large, colorful photographs and fascinating notes over and over again.

That’s why those two books are featured in all of the Visits To… geography notebooks. They are the two mandatory books needed to complete that series and will give you many years of wonderful living geography studies for all of your students.

Parental Advisory: Three photos in the book (pp. 16, 70, 200) contain National Geographic-style partial nudity, providing an authentic representation of the culture in those areas of the world.

Additional Information

Weight2.8 lbs
Dimensions12 × 9 × 0.6 in




Trade Paper


Grade 6, Grade 7, Grade 8, Grade 9, Grade 10, Grade 11, Grade 1, Grade 12, Grade 2, Grade 3, Grade 4, Grade 5

Lesson Plan

Early Modern & Epistles, Genesis through Deuteronomy & Ancient Egypt, Joshua through Malachi & Ancient Greece, Matthew through Acts & Ancient Rome, Middle Ages, Renaissance, Reformation & Epistles, Modern Times & Epistles, Revelation


4 reviews for Material World: A Global Family Portrait

  1. Stephanie W

    This book is fascinating and intrigues my children (and me!) with its vivid photography and first-hand descriptions. Especially helpful to inspire a heart for missions and an appreciation for the physical blessings we take for granted and have an opportunity to steward well.

  2. andreabrownis

    Is this Hardcover or Paperback? I don’t see anywhere that gives this information.

    • Jordan Smith

      We carry the paperback edition. That’s listed under the Additional Information tab next to Binding.

  3. Stephanie

    I have enjoyed many of the Simply Charlotte Mason books and recommendations but did not find Peter Mentzel’s recommendations to be clean for little eyes. There is nudity, displayed provocativeness, and references to sexual sin. There is one picture in particular that I found disgusting and horrid even for my eyes and it is of a young girl dressed immodestly standing in an alley with a group of men staring at her. I understand that this is a sad and tragic reality but not something I would like to display so explicitly to my children at a young age.

    • Sonya Shafer

      You’re right, Stephanie, that this Peter Menzel book shows the world as it is, which can lead to some good conversations with our students. But I’m sorry that parts of it have put you in an awkward situation with your little ones. It will probably work best to keep the book in your possession and select which portions you want to share with your young children.

      We have a parental advisory on this page about the three instances of National Geographic-style partial nudity, but I can’t recall reading about references to sexual sin. I’d really appreciate it if you would let me know where you found the instance you mentioned, so we can determine if we need to expand that posted advisory. Thanks so much for your help.

  4. Charlotte

    I was very disappointed with this book. The photos are apparently 30 years old (taken in 1993). Some parts of the world that were featured have changed massively since then, especially Asia. What bothered me the most was that majority of the people of color were portrayed as either poor or uncivilized, while most of the white/European/western people were shown in nice modern homes. I understand that there are interesting peoples that live in a traditional setting even during the present day, somewhere far off in the mountains or in villages. But I am very wary that this will teach my children that Asian people who are not Japanese are poor or live in villages and shacks (the ONLY Asian family in the entire book that wore modern western clothes and lived in a house were Japanese). Seeing page after page of poor and rustic people from Eastern and South Eastern Asia will start a stigma not in favor of those cultures when my children are still at a young age. The balance of poor and not poor amongst the cultures of the world was not appropriate. Moreover, this comes at a time when parts of Asia is very advanced and technology is ahead of many western nations. Absolutely none of that was featured in the book. It is like showing pictures of families during the Great Depression and saying that “this is how a typical American family lives”. I don’t think Americans would appreciate that. I am very disappointed as I had fully trusted Simply Charlotte Mason with their suggestions of educational materials. Please take this book off the curriculum and find something appropriate.

    • Jordan Smith

      We’re sorry to hear that you were disappointed with this book. We continue to recommend Material World because even though it may now be outdated in some of the representations, it provides a fascinating look at life around the world in the not-too-distant past. Likely due to the scope of the project, we haven’t found any current book that does the same as Material World.

      When the photos for Material World were taken, they depicted a statistically average family in the country that is represented. While some regions and countries have changed dramatically, many of the countries represented have not changed much. One way that you can start a great conversation with your children around this book is to look up or share information about what life is like now in each country depicted. Talk together about what has changed and what has stayed the same. That’s a great way to introduce to your children the idea that the world and cultures change over time.

Add a review

If you have a question, contact us and we will be happy to help.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may also like…