About the Holiday
Today’s holiday encompasses so much more than keeping clean. Sure, a soaking in a tub of warm water is necessary and relaxing, but did you know that a bath is responsible for a mathematical and a linguistic discovery? The story goes that on or around June 14 in the year 287 BCE, the Greek mathematician, scientist, and scholar Archimedes realized that an object’s volume could accurately be measured when submerged in water. Archimedes was so excited about his revelation that he jumped from the tub shouting, “Eureka! Eureka!” as he ran through the streets of Syracuse. Thus both a scientific principle and a new word were born! To celebrate today, take some time for yourself and indulge in a nice long soak!
Around the World in a Bathtub: Bathing All Over the Globe
Written by Wade Bradford | Illustrated by Micha Archer
Even as you’re reading this, in some house somewhere in the world “water is filling up a bathtub, steam is fogging up a mirror, washcloths and rubber duckies are waiting…” They are waiting for the little boy who is running away, not wanting to stop playing to take a bath. “No, no!” he giggles as he scampers away. But maybe he can find a way to combine both. He leads his mom on a chase that ends up with a cannonball splash into the tub. Taking a bath is something that happens everywhere in the world, but in different ways.
In Japan a grandmother washes her granddaughter’s face and hair before she climbs into the deep, square tub, called an ofuro. Baths are taken in an orderly fashion, with the oldest family member going first and the youngest going last.
“In Turkey, families visit an enormous bathhouse called a hammam. Attendants scrub the bathers with rough cloths and strong soap. After the scrubbing, the children are given slippers and towels.” Afterward, they relax in the sauna, where they can wear mud masks to soothe their skin. In India families “honor their ancestors by bathing in the Ganges River.” The water may be too cold for little ones, who resist—“Nahi, Nahi!”—as they dip their toes in.
On the snowy tundra in Alaska a Yup’ik family braves the weather to go to the makii—a wooden cabin. Inside, a young brother and sister wait while their grandfather lights a fire to heat the stones. When they are hot, steam fills the room and sweat drips, cleaning them. But the cabin is too hot now, and the little boy protests, “Qang-a, qang-a!”
It’s true that for thousands of years, children have run away from taking a bath—whether they washed up in natural waterfalls or with oils and perfumes in ancient Egypt—and in the future they will continue to “say no to bath time as they float around in a space station.” So it doesn’t matter if kids are washing in Australian bogey holes, Himalayan hot springs, South African lakes, or even atop a South American volcano, they will always say, “No, no!” when getting in but “Yes, yes!” to staying in longer.
More descriptions of bathing customs as well as bathtubs and bathhouses around the world follow the text.
With humor and heart, Wade Bradford invites kids to jump in and learn about a customary activity that unites us all. Listening in as children first protest taking a bath and then beg for a little more time, readers will understand that people are the same around the globe. Including ancient history as well as a peek into the future extends the connection we all have to this basic need and may begin a discussion of what bathing could be like in years to come—both more immediate and farther afield. The variety of bathing spots will captivate children and make them wish they could take the plunge in these places themselves. The introduction of the words Yes and No in eight languages provides another wonderful way to interact with the book and with multicultural learning.
Micha Archer’s gorgeous and distinctive illustrations made from oils and custom made paper collages are stunning representations of outdoor and indoor bathing spots. The lakes, rivers, waterfalls, and volcano are surrounded by vibrant foliage, majestic buildings, and wind-whipped waves. The tubs, saunas, bathhouses and cabins have their own particular charms as children relax and get clean as the steam rises.
Around the World in a Bathtub is an excellent introduction for young readers to their peers and the world around them in both traditions and language. A great addition to classroom, school, and public libraries, the book may also inspire kids to try a different custom.
Ages 3 – 7
Charlesbridge, 2017 | ISBN 978-1580895446
Learn more about Wade Bradford, his books, and plays on his website
View a gallery of art and books by Micha Archer on her wesite!
International Bath Day Activity
Homemade Bathtub Clings
Instead of buying bathtub clings for your kids to play with, make some yourself! It’s easy with regular foam sheets, cookie cutters or stencils, and scissors! Make it a family activity and watch the shower of creativity that results!
- Foam sheets in various colors
- Cookie cutters or stencils
- Trace cookie cutter shapes or stencils onto the foam
- And/Or cut squares, triangles, rectangles, circles, and other shapes from the foam in a variety of sizes
- Cut out the shapes
- Wet the backs of the shapes with water and stick them to the tub or tiled or lined wall. Shapes will also stick with a little shaving gel or cream applied
Picture Book Review