Bogota or Bust

Land and People of ColombiaThe Land and People of Columbia

Submitter: This book is older than dirt, has no color pictures, and has some racist overtones. Because it is from 1970, some of the language is dated and inappropriate. There are plenty of ways to deal with complicated history in an age appropriate manner. Here’s a sample of the text: “By 1700, whatever the cause may have been, the Chibchas had replaced their own language with Spanish and had largely abandoned their old religion to become pious and devoted Christians. They were relatively peacefully assimilated into the ways of the Spanish, and many, through their marriages with whites, lost their Indian identity; their children of mixed blood form the largest blood strain in Columbia today. (Racial prejudice has never been a strong factor in Columbia’s life and history.)–page 46

Holly: Country books have a life span of maybe ten years. Maaayyybe twenty years in some cases. A book about the land and people of the United States, written in 1970, would include images and attitudes that no longer represent what our country is really like. Why, then, is it OK to have books about other countries that are 40+ years old? Answer: it isn’t. This is a juvenile book, so isn’t it important that children learn about countries and cultures respectfully, appropriately, and – oh, I don’t know – accurately?

Indians in Colombia


    1. Yes, I was going to mention that, too. But it can go the other way: I live on Columbia Street, named in the late 19th century (“the gem of the ocean,” etc.). It regularly gets spelled with a second O instead of the U.

  1. Books like this are valuable for research. Historians can see what racial attitudes were in 1970.

    1. Yes, I absolutely agree. Historical perspective is so important if we are to assess where we are today. I’m sure that there are some attitudes in this book that haven’t completely faded, either. It’s not a great book for a high school project, but it has other value.

  2. I am in the process of weeding my library, which has never been weeded, and the country books are on the chopping block. Many of them are 25-30 yrs old, and books on countries in Europe that never heard of the Euro are toast.

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