Teaching Geography with Children’s Literature: Maps Getting From Here To There


Maps Getting From Here To There  by Harvey Weiss explores maps in 10 small chapters. The introduction begins by showing how simple a map can be and expanding out into the more complex maps. The explanation of directions is awesome. It is in chapter 1 titled, “Which Way?”.  ” One of the most important things a map can do is help you get where you want to go.”.  As a student, I always want to know why I am learning something and this was a perfect explanation of the importance of map skills. In this chapter it also goes on to explain the location and significance of the compass rose.

The author breaks down the book into chapters explaining the different types of maps and the how each part of maps are important. In the chapter on topographical maps, the author introduces the vocabulary in a logical way that relates to how it is used in reading the map. This would be a great way to introduce the vocabulary in a simplified matter instead of straight definition writing.  Chapter 5 , “All Those Lines”, talks about longitude and latitude and provide excellent explanations on how those work.  ” The horizontal lines are called latitudes, and the vertical lines are called longitudes. The purpose of these lines is to help locate places on the surface of the earth.”  The last few pages of the book provide the reader with a step by step way to making their own map. Overall, this book is great and could be used for both younger and older students.

Curriculum Connections
This book could be used as great introduction to different concepts of maps. In first grade (SOL 1.4a,b and c , 1.5 and 1.6),  students need a basic understand of map symbols and cardinal directions. The beginning of the book focuses on these skills and would provide a teacher with another way of presenting the information. In second and third grades, ( SOL 2.5a and b and 2.6 ; 3.5a, b and e and 3.6), students begin actually plotting and using the maps more in depth. This book could serve as review of basic map skills and then introduce the harder concepts of maps. The book even has some crossover into the US history (US I.8a and b) with the discussion of Lewis and Clark and their exploration and mapping of America.  The language used in the book is simple enough for a first grader to understand and would still hold the attention of an older student.

Additional Resources

  • National Geographic provides several ideas for lesson plans from K-12 in the subject of geography.
  • This page provides a lesson on Orienteering , which makes map reading into a game.
  • Mr.Donn’s Page provide several ideas for lessons on map skills and even provides games for children to play online.

Book: Maps Getting From Here To There
Harvey Weiss
Houghton Mifflin
Publication Date:
Grade Range:
9-12 year old reading level

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