Books To Check On A Map

I recently got an email from Jane asking if I had any suggestions for books that mention cities, regions or countries that could be used as a launching pad for some geography lessons. These books are some of my favorites, they can be the start of a live long interest in other cultures, countries and travel.

Madeline in London by Ludwig Bemelmans . Let me just start by saying that like Babar and Barbapapa I have fond childhood memories of Madeline. So this review may be a little biased. The rhyming text is fast to read and fun too, I would warn parents that they allude to making glue out of dead horses, little guys won’t pick up on it but it may horrify a sharp 3 year old. So pre read it if you want to omit anything. Also a horse is thought dead, for a brief moment before it’s revealed to just be sleeping. It sounds much worse than it really is. I love that it includes real London sights in it’s illustrations, such as Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey , the Tower Bridge and Trafalgar Square. After reading this to my Pre K class ( omitting the horses and glue reference) we got down a globe and found where Paris and London were. For weeks 2 little girls played airplane and their destination was always London. A single book can really open doors!

My Granny Went to Market by Stella Blackstone is a book I got to know very well when writing lessons for Itty Bitty Bookworm preschool curriculum using it. This a a really fantastic book that is filled with language arts, geography and math lessons. Granny is a traveler and everywhere she goes she picks up a number of souvenirs. Not only are a number of countries like Switzerland, Mexico and Peru visited, but the souvenirs she buys relate to the country’s culture and offer even more learning opportunities for interested kids.  The rhyming text will enchant even the youngest world traveler , this is a must for any jet setting family!

D is for Dancing Dragon: A China Alphabet by Carol Crane is a in valuable book when teaching about China and Chinese New Year, it is more than a simple alphabet book, going into detail about lanterns, chopsticks, panda bears and so much more. What I love about these books is that younger children can be shown the pictures and given a easy to digest synopsis of the text, while older children can read the whole book. The illustrations by Zong-Zhou Wang will make the most reluctant traveler want to get on a plane to china, they are simply spectacular!

Hugo and Miles In I’ve Painted Everything by Scott Magoon is going on my Christmas list. I have renewed this book for months from my local library. I finally have to return this book and I just don’t want to! The book is all about Hugo a painter who has painter’s block. He goes to Paris with his best friend Miles for inspiration, and among the sites, the masterpieces and thanks to the Eiffel tower he finds it! I love this book and my son just eats it up. He wants to go to Paris to the “Moosay Dor-see” to see Van Gogh and climb the Eiffel tower thanks to Hugo!

There’s a Dolphin in the Grand Canal by John Bemelmans Marciano was a book I grabbed knowing i was going to write this post but the first time I read it I fell in love. It’s all about a little boy stuck helping out in his families cafe in Venice wishing he was somewhere more exciting than Venice. Then something very exciting happens but no one believes him!  What I love so much about this book is that it gets to the heart of why people travel , to see things that they have never seen before. If you live in Venice St.Marks Square and The Rialto Bridge are ho hum but if you are from Winnipeg they rock!  I also love that there are tourists in this book using all different languages that are explained in an appendix at the back of the book. Very cool find!

How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman cost me a total of 15 cents at a thrift store. It is worth so much more than that. This book is a gem! Perfect for older preschoolers who are getting a sense of the world beyond their own home and city, this book takes you on a ride around the world! You follow the little girl to Italy, France , Sri Lanka, England, Jamaica and back to Vermont! As soon as I read this my mind was racing with classroom activities ! I will be posting some soon. I LOVE this book, I just wish I had read it when I was still teaching it would have been so much fun to teach geography with!

The Falling Flowers by Jennifer B. Reed is the perfect book for this craft ! I was a little too loud when I found it at the library, my son told me to shhh! The story is very sweet, it’s about a grandmother taking her young granddaughter on a surprise outing in Tokyo. It turns out that she is taking her to see the cherry trees in full bloom just as her grandmother had done with her. It’s a nice look at the softer side of Tokyo , a city I know I always imagine as only steal, cement and neon lights!

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  1. Meryl says

    And now with Google Earth, you can move from the book to the ‘real’ thing and let kids actually ‘see’ the Eiffel Tower or whatever they have read about. It would make a great classroom activity to retrace the adventures in some of these books by embarking on an imaginary plane trip to each location. Set the classroom up to look like a plane, show a geography related short movie like one from the Families of … series as their ‘inflight’ entertainment, have a snack related to the book, get some parents to dress up as flight attendants etc.

  2. Michelle says

    I was so excited to see your post as I’m just now starting to introduce Geography to my son! We got the Great States Jr. game, which he loves, but I was also looking for more ideas about other countries. This book list looks fabulous! The Disney stories are also a great intro to other cultures, which is what we started with. thanks to Ratatoutouie my son is familiar with France and the Effiel Tower!
    Can’t wait to read your post on the Apple Pie book. We just picked that one up for the library as we are doing fun lessons with apples this month. I told my son we were going to take a trip to publix to buy all the ingredients from the book to make apple pie and he said, ‘Mom, we can’t buy a cow from Publix, we’ll just have to get the milk!”.

  3. says

    My Granny Went to Market looks like a lot of fun. In terms of U.S. geography, I love the Scrambled States of America too – so funny (lots of little side jokes that only adults will get), and there’s even a companion game. We’ve just started focusing on one country per week (chosen by my 2 year old!), and I’m trying to get a fiction book to go along with each week, so it should be a fun challenge to hunt them down. Last week was Ireland, this week is Iceland, and next week will be United Kingdom (unless he changes his mind).
    .-= Lynn´s last blog ..Preschool Corner-Weekly Wrap-Up =-.

  4. says

    These are awesome but don’t forget the Caldecott Honor book (2009)”How I learned Geography” by Uri Shulevitz. I love the google earth idea, I can’t wait till my kids are old enough to learn geography right now I only drag them all over the country.


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