Books for Geography Lessons

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     This is the beginning of an exciting journey with Poppin's Book Nook. For the next year you can join the fun in this virtual book club for kids. Each month there is a new theme including "Where in the World" for March.

     I get so comfortable at home. Even when there are major disruptions to our routine or big stressors in my life, there is relief and comfort at the end of each day. Home. There is so much more, though, to the world than what we see each day. Traveling opens my eyes. Some books have a similar eye-opening effect. My three selections for this month's sharing are such books.

     Last year the focus of our history studies was Countries and Cultures. We explored countries continent by continent, but with almost 200 countries in the world we didn't cover all of them. But we are still learning. Our focus this year changed with the shift to Rome to the Reformation, but instead of stopping our cultural studies we are adding more depth to our lessons. Now we can compare maps from ancient times to our modern ones. One of my favorite map resources is WonderMaps by Bright Ideas Press. 

     One of our most loved geography books is Window on the World which gives an upclose look at specific locations and people groups. We started using this over eight years ago and continue to refer to it often. Window on the World: When We Pray God Works (affiliate link) has been one of our most used reference books for years. Each time we learn of a new people group whether it be in a book or on the news, I look through this book to see if they are included. A two page spread shows pictures and even includes prayer needs as beliefs of the area are shared.

       Children Just Like Me: A Unique Celebration of Children Around the World (affiliate link) was on my wish list for several years because it was a recommended history resource. The day after I found it at a library sale for about a quarter, it also showed up as a wish granted on my paperbackswap.com account. I flipped through it with the kids and enjoyed seeing bits of children's lives from around the world. The book really became special to me, though, after returning from Thailand. While there, the young boys being sent to monasteries by their families was mentioned. We saw such need, such poor circumstances, but my perceptions were changed even more after I came home and  read this book. The pictures showing so clearly one such young boy were not what I had imagined was behind the gilded gates.

     My children and I have enjoyed sampling foods from around the world as we have studied different places. Last year we explored a huge international grocery store while visiting Houston and were able to add exotic (to us) foods to our menu. Family members travelled and brought us back foods to experience from where they had been. Just last fall our cousins who live in Japan visited us and introduced us to snacks that they enjoy at home. We stopped at a Korean/Japanese grocery while visiting the coast last weekend and picked up some of those same treats again. Sometimes just using common ingredients in new ways gives us a taste of other cultures. Two such recipes that we tried are brigaderios and coconut sticky rice with mangoesOne of our new favorites is purple sweet potatoes. Now common in Japan, my Granny shared that they were her favorite, too, though she rarely found them in stores anymore.

     If you have older children, too, then this may interest you. Just this week I added Kisses From Katie to this Where in the World? post. My 14 and 16 year old daughters met with their book club to discuss this book, and one of the first things the leader did was unroll a huge world map and ask who could locate Uganda. As evidenced by the book club leader, something as simple as finding a place on a map can add a geography component to a book. Next time you read a story with a real location mentioned, even if the story is fiction, find it with your kids on a map

     Uganda isn't a place that we specifically studied before though we have studied about Africa. My oldest daughter shared some of the things that she learned about Uganda while reading Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption. "Because of law restrictions in Uganda, it is very hard for many people there to make a living. The people in Uganda  used to make a living by raising cattle. Now, without the land to grow their own food, which then could be used to feed their cattle, many people have a hard time even raising enough money to live by. Often, in many families in Uganda, the fathers leave the families, leaving many children behind to be supported by only their mother. Because of the lack of available work, mothers and even grandmothers have a very hard time raising their children. By starting her Amazima ministry, Katie is feeding and sending hundreds of children to school. The children in Uganda readily accept her help, as she shares Jesus's love with them. Often, many of the children never had had a bath before, or even known what love really was until Katie helped them." 

     "I fill up on Jesus first." was Katie's answer to how she live with so many challenges unfamiliar to our typical American lives. "God turned my world right side up." 

     Another resource my son has loved for learning about different countries is Little Passports. Visit my blog friends sharing their own perspectives of our monthly theme, and find some new books to add to your reading list.

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  1. There are some good book suggestions here. Thank you!

    1. We did enjoy them, Leah. Now my mom is reading Kisses From Katie, too.

  2. I love your tip about finding the country on a map if a book mentions geographical locations, I will definitely be trying that out!

    1. We started that when my oldest daughter was in 2nd grade and now refer to a big wall map in our hall frequently.

  3. Jennifer---we love that rice and mango dish too! Our friends from the Philippines shared it with us.

    Loved your sweet post. Thanks for sharing the resources!

    1. I'm glad you like them. The sweet dish is delicious.

  4. Great ideas for our upcoming school year! We need some fresh material for our Geography section :)
    Thanks for sharing, Rachael

  5. These look like great books to get kids into geography and culture! Off to look at them now!

  6. Anonymous4/10/2014

    Children just like me is a wonderful book for kids. I am going to check out Window on the World, it sounds really great too! I really like that you incorporated cultural diversity along with geography.

    Thank you for helping to bring a spoonful of reading fun to the Poppins Book Nook this month!

  7. Anonymous4/13/2014

    I'm going to have to check out Window on the World! It looks like a great resource for people groups!


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