Teaching Geography with Children’s Literature: My America: A Poetry Atlas of the United States

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My America: A Poetry Atlas of the United States, selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Stephen Alcorn, is a collection of 50 poems combined with beautiful art that together create a portrait of the United States. The states are broken down according to their specific region, and a map and facts about each state precede the poems that describe them. The beautiful illustrations and fun poems are sure to keep the attention of students!

It’s here our U.S. Presidents
are sworn into command;
where the courtly U.S. Capitol
and the stately White House stand.”
(excerpt from Washington D.C. by Rebecca Kai Dotlich)

Curriculum Connections
My America: A Poetry Atlas of the United States is a great book for teaching the different states and regions of the United States. It covers the Virginia Social Studies SOL 1.4d, which involves the identification of the United States and Virginia on maps and globes. Teachers can also integrate English into a geography lesson plan by asking students to create their own poems about where they live.

Additional Resources

  • This is an excellent 10-day unit map skills lesson plan. Essential knowledge includes:
    Symbols and cardinal directions are used to show where objects and places are located on maps and globes.
    The United States and Virginia can be identified by their physical shapes on maps and globes.
    The locations of the capital cities of Washington, D.C. and Richmond, Virginia are identified by specific symbols.
  • Using this worksheet, students can practice their map-making skills as well as the identification and usage of the cardinal directions.
  • ThisPowerPoint is a great teaching resource for identifying the United States and Virginia on maps and globes.
  • Watch the My America: A Poetry Atlas of the United States Reading Rainbow episode, and have students compare and contrast the girl from rural Montana and the boy from New York City. As a class, complete a Venn diagram comparing and contrasting the lives of the two children.

Book: My America
Author: Lee Bennett Hopkins
Illustrator: Stephen Alcorn
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing
Publication Date: 2000
Pages:96
Grade Range: 1-5
ISBN: 0-689-81247-7