Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Geography - United States Picture Books

I started to write this blarticle before the fourth of July with the intention of publishing it around the holiday.  However, I'm still waiting on a few books such as, "The Little Man in The Map" by E. Andrew Martonyi.  I'll add and update as more books arrive.  Here are the quality books we have found so far. 

Nice to Have on Hand for Reference:

This listing of books includes the books I have found that I either have on hand for reference already, or believe would be a wonderful addition to our ever growing collection.  These books are not really the type a child wants to sit down and read, however, they offer wonderful illustration and information that would help elaborate upon and enrich, trips across state lines and general experiences relating to the geography, natural history of political history of the states within our nation.  We also regularly refer to a Rand McNally Road Atlas and a Wall Map.

Greetings from the 50 States - How they Got Their Names:

This book by Sheila Keenan and Illustrated by Selina Alko has a two page layout for each state.  The illustrations are done as a whimsical and decorative map of the state showing its seal, important landmarks in the state, animals and colors that characterize the state and additional illlustrations depicting something historically important to that state.  The main body of text gives about a two paragraph synopsis of how the state came to earn the formal name it was given.  There is also a secondary bit of text about at least one of the state's nicknames - such as the sooner state, granite state or evergreen state. 

Quilt of States - Piecing Together America:

Adrienne Yorinks made beautiful quilted maps to depict each state as well as maps to depict the entire nation (or at least the lower 48) in 1790, 1803 (fter the Louisiana Purchase), 1820 (Missouri Compromise), 1848 (Mexican War), 1861 (secession), and between 1912 and 1959 before the admission of Alaska and Hawaii.  There is one final map that shows Canada as well as the US in order to include those to final states   where they actually belong on the map.  With the help of 50 librarians from across the country, each state is depicted with a brief summary of the essential aspects of the state's history in terms of how each state became a state in the first place.  Along with each larger map there is also a brief description of the stage of history the map is depicting and what was happening to cause more land acquisition (or the division of the country as in the case of the map depicting our country at the time of the Missouri Compromise and the Map of Secession).  This is, as usual for National Geographic Books, a beautifully done book.

For Reading:

A is for America - An American Alphabet:

NOT to be used as an alphabet book, this brilliantly illustrated book by Scillian is full of tidbits from critical junctures in our history, geographic and historic monuments, important figures from our past such as Babe Ruth, Thomas Edison and Hariet Tubman, and even includes things such as Oreos and zippers.  Pam Carroll's illustrations are a feast that almost seem as though they came first, except they correspond too well with the text for that to be true.  Great for primary grades as a read-aloud.

Scrambled States of America:

This brightly illustrated book has Uncle Sam tell the story about the time all the states decided to switch places with each-other.  It provides an introduction to the states in a general, funny and lighthearted way.

For Perusing:

United Tweets of America - 50 State Birds:

This book by Hudson Talbott shoes that he really has a sense of humor!  With a page for each state (and district), it also contains a little more than just a listing of state birds with little bits of trivia for each state.  Lots of fun for the 8 or 9 year old jokester learning about our country.

America the Beautiful:

Even if you have this wonderful poem by Katharine Lee Bates memorized line for line (or lyric by lyric as it is now known in song, this book is well worth the perusal.  Chris Gall's brightly colored and detailed illustrations draw you right in.  He has really illustrated his great-great-grandaunt's poetry with grace and depth.  He chooses a wide range of moments in our history to illustrate as well.  The pages depict the vast variety with which our nation abounds from a landscape depicting a lighthouse and the edge of the sea across rolling wheatfields to desert mesas and of course "purple" mountains.  He also manages to encompass major moments in our histroy from the Lewis and Clark expedition to the building of our railroads and sky scrapers as well as the incoming flow of immigrants and even 9/11 with one page depicting the firefighters errecting a flag on the ashes of the twin towers in New York.  He also squeezes in different seasons, and important symbols.  I put this one in the "perusal" category because it could be gone over again and again just looking at the gorgeous prints on each page.  An adult needn't know the title or the lyrics to understand what this book is about.  What wonderful conversation starters about this countries geography, culture and history this artwork is.

State Shapes Series:

I read the one about Washington and it was fun  and had a lot of good information, but I did find a few inaccuracies, so use it for fun, but if your kids are using it for research make sure they double check thier findings.

For those Readers with a Daisy Scout:

The Daisy scout's "Between Earth and Sky" journey is a perfect one to accompany a road trip or unit on US geography.  Alice and I have been working on this journey over the summer and will add to it during our trip as well.  Since Alice is not part of a troop and we are "Juliette Scouts" that meet with a few scattered friends that are also "Juliettes" we work in Journeys as thought they are almost like a Unit Study where we can.  If are a family with a daisy scout working on US geography, seeds, habitats, or a host of other scientific and/or ecological topics, this journey will tie in nicely for you.

Your Input:

If there is a book you have read or heard about you would like to review that is not already on the list, please feel free to share what you think.  Even if it's something you haven't read it yet, I might be able to find it and add to the list - just ask.

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