Teaching Geography with Children’s Literature: A World of Wonders


Geography can be an overwhelming subject to teach. Don’t be alarmed! J.Patrick Lewis’s book of poetry, A World of Wonders, illustrated by Alison Jay, covers a wide variety of geographical concepts through different types of poems that your students will love!

The book opens with an acrostic poem about Christopher Columbus’ discovery in 1492, and takes readers on a voyage all over the world. With fun and engaging illustrations, Lewis writes poems about Marco Polo, Aurora Borealis, the difference between longitude and latitude, the poles, and the five oceans, only to name a few. One of my favorite pages is full of 6 City Riddles, where students must guess where in the world they would be given the clues. I love the riddle for Sydney, Australia: “Where are you if…You see a modern opera house? Come visit here and bring your spouse–Or y’r mate, if you may. Enjoy a barbie shrimp! G’day!” The book concludes with a poem which encourages children to take care of their world, an essential topic to tie into a geography lesson: “Make the Earth your companion. Walk lightly on it, as other creatures do. Let the Sky paint her beauty–she is always watching over you.”

Curriculum Connections

This book could be used in many different areas of geography, and across a number of different grades. Since the topics from poem to poem are so different from each other, I would suggest reading applicable poems at the start of a geography lesson. For example, when beginning a lesson on the five oceans, share with students the poem “Oceans Five.” A World of Wonders could be applied to SOL 2.5, where students must locate the equator, 7 continents and 5 oceans, and 3.5, which further studies the continents, oceans, and the equator, as well as studying the regions discovered by different explorers. Lewis’ book could also be applied to some of the SOLs for Virginia Studies, such as USI.2, which covers different geographic regions of North America, and water features of the United States. The World Geography SOL WG.4 could be taught through this book as well, because it challenges students to analyze and locate physical, economic and cultural characteristics of the world regions.

Additional Resources

  • Allow your students to explore countries all over the world on National Geographic’s kid-friendly site.
  • Play this Message in a Bottle game to teach your students about longitude and latitude.
  • Where in the World? is a great webquest to use in your classroom, where students collect information of a world region to write a postcard home to the states.

General Information
Book: A World of Wonders
Author: J. Patrick Lewis
Illustrator: Alison Jay
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 2002
Pages: 40
Grade Range: 2-4

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