Written by Amber Doty for Babble.com
It is both a blessing and a curse that children are brutally honest. They dream without boundaries. They are sensitive and perceptive and, if we aren't careful, they will absorb the worries of those around them. It is these traits in children that are captured perfectly by a photo series created by Judy Gelles called "The Fourth Grade Project."
Gelles is an artist who has spent time volunteering at schools around the globe. As part of her project she asked fourth grade students three questions: With whom do you live? What do you wish for? What do you worry about? Gelles created word portraits from the answers of children from a private Quaker school in the U.S., a primarily Hispanic public school in the U.S., an English-speaking school in India, an inner-city school in the U.S., and a school for the children of migrant workers in China.
"In fourth grade," Gelles says, "they are not afraid to tell you the way it is."
Their responses will both warm your heart and punch you in the gut.
I live with my mom, dad, sister, brother, and two poodles. My grandparents pick us up from school every day. I love history. I think it's important for people to know about the past. I wish for a fully functional robot. It would do my homework, make my bed, serve me breakfast, and tell me the football scores. My favorite team is the New York Giants. I worry about being on time. <em>--From a Jewish day school in the U.S.</em>
I live with my mother and father. My older sister lives with my aunt in my hometown. I miss her. I wish my whole family could be together. I worry about doing something wrong and upsetting my parents. I worry about hurting someone and my parents will have to pay for medical treatment. <em>--From a school for children of migrant workers in China</em>
My whole family was born in Mexico. I came to the United States when I was three. I live with my mom, my dad, my three brothers, my god-sister, and my niece. I worry that my parents might get deported to Mexico. Then I would be all alone. <em>--From an inner-city school in the U.S.</em>
I live with my mom and dad and four brothers. My dad is a pediatrician. My mom used to be a lawyer. Now she is a housewife. At 4:30 we do our homework. At 5:30 the children eat dinner. My mom and dad eat dinner after we are in bed. My favorite subject is writing. I have a very creative mind. I write random stories about me. I use my iPod Touch for research. I wish for more money. I would give some to charity, and I would buy myself an iPad. I don't worry. <em>--From a Jewish day school in the U.S.</em>
I worry about people in my family getting shot. My cousin got shot and died. I don't think anybody should carry a gun... even the cops. Then nobody would get shot. <em>--From an inner-city school in the U.S.</em>
I live with my mother and father. My older sister lives with my grandparents in my hometown. My parents work in a supermarket. I like my teachers. We all follow the rules at school. I would never break the rules. I want to grow up fast so I can be a fourth grade teacher. <em>--From a school for children of migrant workers in China</em>
I live with my mom and dad and two sisters. My mom speaks only Spanish. I have two older sisters who live in Mexico. I miss them a lot. We don't visit because it costs too much money. I am a good student but I talk too much. I love to talk. I want to be a doctor. I want to help children. My wish is for bad people to stop killing good people. I worry about my family, that they could get robbed by the bad people and lose all of their money and then we wouldn't be able to buy food and pay the rent. <em>--From a primarily Hispanic public school in the U.S.</em>
<em><strong><a href="http://blogs.babble.com/kid-scoop/2012/08/24/the-4th-grade-project-life-through-the-eyes-of-15-children-from-around-the-world" target="_hplink">For 8 more photos from 4th graders around the world, visit Babble!</a></strong></em> More on Babble <a href="http://blogs.babble.com/strollerderby/2011/10/06/what-were-they-thinking-20-mind-blowing-vintage-ads-involving-children/" target="_hplink">20 totally inappropriate vintage ads featuring children</a> <a href="http://blogs.babble.com/strollerderby/2011/11/21/be-thankful-you-have-first-world-problems/#its-just-sad " target="_hplink">14 reasons to be grateful you have first-world problems</a> <a href="http://blogs.babble.com/kid-scoop/2011/11/03/15-memories-from-childhood-our-children-wont-have/" target="_hplink">15 memories from childhood our kids won't have</a>
All photographs are copyright of Judy Gelles and are shared with her permission. Check out more of The Fourth Grade Project on Gelles' site.
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