David J. Smith — Author

David J. Smith headshot


If, 2014
If the World Were a Village, 2011
This Child, Every Child, 2011
If America Were a Village, 2009


David J. Smith is a classroom teacher with over 25 years experience teaching middle and high school English, geography and social studies. He achieved national recognition for his unique method of teaching seventh graders to draw maps of the entire world from memory, now published as a highly successful curriculum, “Mapping the World by Heart.” In 1992, Smith won the U.S. Department of Education’s “A+ for Breaking the Mold” Award for his work. Since 1992, he has been a full-time educational consultant, giving lectures and workshops on informational technologies, geography and global issues to teachers, parents, student groups and others throughout the United States and in Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Time magazine, NBC's Today Show, the L.A. Times and the Associated Press, among others, have acknowledged Smith and the success of his curriculum. Smith has also written articles for The New York Times Education Life section, “The International Educator” and “The World Paper.”

Through his work with teachers, Smith developed the idea of creating a realistic picture of the world that would be understandable and accessible to young people. By imagining a village where each inhabitant represented 62 million individuals, David was able to pare Earth’s population down to a village of 100 people. The result is If the World Were a Village: A Book about the World’s People.

Upon shrinking the world’s population, proportions and relationships become more meaningful, statistics more manageable. Based on published figures, If the World Were a Village reveals some startling disparities. For instance, in the world village, there are 38 school-aged villagers — but of the 38 only 31 of them attend school and only 24 of them have enough food to eat. The world keeps changing and growing, and the data in the book has been kept current; between 2002 and 2014, it has been updated 23 times.

Smith believes that this book promotes “world-mindedness,” which is an attitude, an approach to life. At a time when parents and educators are looking to help children gain a better understanding of the world’s peoples and their ways of life, If the World Were a Village is a unique and objective resource. Through the surprising statistics and Smith’s tips on fostering a world view, children are encouraged to embrace the bigger picture and to establish their own place in the global village.

David Smith was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He has lived in England, Hawaii and Oregon, but now lives in Victoria, British Columbia.

Q & A

Boston, Massachusetts. My family is from all over the United States and my wife’s family is from Vancouver, British Columbia.

April 24th — I'm a Taurus.

Where do you live now?
In North Vancouver, BC. I've lived in London, in Hawai'i, in Oregon, and in Boston, but my wife and I have finally settled on Western Canada as the place we want to live for the rest of our lives.

When did you start writing?
My first published work was 25 years ago; I've written a curriculum guide for teachers about World Geography, two books for school administrators, one about the internet and one about emergency procedures, and I've written three children’s books for Kids Can Press.

How did you get involved with children’s books?
Dr. Seuss was always a hero of mine.

Do you have any pets?
We have a rescue cat from the SPCA, named Chica, or Chiquita. She is only about a year old, and was abandoned, found by somebody who couldn't keep her, and dropped off at the SPCA. That was where we found her and adopted her.

What is your favorite food?
Pizza is one of my favorites, but it has to be thin crust pizza, with anchovies. If I can't get anchovy pizza, I like Chinese or Indian food.

What are your hobbies?
Watching old movies on the VCR is my favorite hobby, along with reading everything that I can.

What was your training or schooling?
Pretty standard for a teacher — after university, I got a graduate degree in education and began teaching in 1966.

Do you have any tips for young creators?
For me, the hardest part is not listening to the inner voices that say, “That’s not the way to do it” or “That’s not as good as it could be”; the key for me has just been to go ahead anyway and see what’s on the other side.

What is your favorite book?
Right now, the book I keep by my bedside to read over and over is Home from the Vinyl Cafe by Stuart McLean.

What is your favorite movie?

What is the thing you like the most about creating kids books?
At the beginning of the process, I have a vision of what the final work will be like; what the final work is ACTUALLY like is never what I thought it would be.

How do you research or create your stories?
I use a lot of resource books, world almanacs, atlases and other print materials. I also use the Web a lot.

Where do you get your ideas?
Most often from my reading.

What’s your greatest childhood memory?
The one that comes up in my head right now is when I was six or seven, and my parents and I set out to drive about 1000 miles from Boston to Cincinnati, Ohio. My father handed me (*ME*!) the map and said, “OK, how do we get there?” He really did know how to get there but he wanted me to learn to read maps and navigate, so he really followed my directions (even when they were wrong), and we did get there.

What is your favorite animal?
The Brown Pelican.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to collect rubbish! I loved the trucks that eat up rubbish, and I loved the noise and the sense of really doing something where you could see that you'd been successful.

What is the weirdest or most interesting job you've ever had?
Weirdest: I ran a drive-in movie theater one summer when I was in university. Most Interesting: I helped rebuild the Abbey on the island of Iona in the Hebrides Islands, west of Scotland.

Do you have any special secrets or insights about one of your books or characters?
The world really IS a village. Everything anybody does has an effect on everybody else. We have to be very sure that what we do takes care of all the other people in the village and does no harm.



2016 - Rocky Mountain Book Award, RMBA, Short-listed
2016 - BC Young Readers' Choice Award, Red Cedar Book Awards, Winner
2016 - Silver Birch Express, Ontario Library Association, Short-listed
2015 - USBBY Outstanding International Books, honor list, International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), Winner
2015 - Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator’s Award, Canadian Library Association, Short-listed
2014 - 2014 OLA Best Bet List for Children, OLA’s Canadian Materials Committee, Winner
2014 - Eureka! Gold Award, California Reading Association, Winner 2014 - Books of the Year, Kidlit Picks, Quill & Quire, Winner

If America Were a Village

2010 - Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, NCSS-CBC, Winner

If the World Were a Village

2012 - Best Books for Kids & Teens, Canadian Children’s Book Centre, Winner
2004 - Alberta Children’s Choice Rocky Mountain Book Award, Short-listed
2003 - Nautilus Award, Winner
2003 - Our Choice - Starred Selection, Canadian Children’s Book Centre, Winner
2003 - Children’s Choices List, International Reading Association, Winner
2003 - Parent’s Guide Choice Award, Winner
2003 - Independent Publisher Book Award, Winner
2003 - ABC Choices Award, Association of Booksellers for Children, Winner
2003 - Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, Winner
2003 - Children’s Book Award, International Reading Association, Winner
2002 - NAPPA - Children’s Resources Gold Award, Winner

This Child, Every Child

2012 - Best Books for Kids & Teens, Canadian Children’s Book Centre, Winner
2012 - Outstanding International Book, USBBY, Winner