Teaching Geography with Children’s Literature: The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman


Young Tameka wants her favorite uncle, Ray, to visit her in California.  Ray is too busy with his job in South Carolina to travel to Tameka’s home; so, he sends Oliver K. Woodman, a hand-crafted wooden man, in his place.  The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman, written by Darcy Pattison and illustrated by Joe Cepeda, recounts Oliver’s cross-country trek in which he depends on the kindness of strangers to reach his destination.  Pattison’s whimsical story is wonderfully told through postcards and letters.  Cepeda’s lovely pictures, painted with oil over acrylic on board, make not only Oliver, but the entire story come alive.


The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman includes a United States map which charts Oliver’s journey from coast to coast.  This creates a good tie-in to geography lessons for any elementary level class (VA SOL’s K.3-5, 1.4-6, 2.4-6, and 3.6).  This book could serve as the inspiration for a joint Social Studies/English project where the student uses correspondence and geographic research to document an imagined trip.

Additional Resources

  • Spark your creativity with ideas from Helping Your Child Learn Geography, a U.S. Department of Education website.
  • Teach letter-writing skills by starting a pen pal program with people across town, across country, or across oceans.  Consider these suggestions before you begin.
  • National Geographic’s Geospy game is a fun way for kids to learn the locations of countinents, countries and states.

BookThe Journey of Oliver K. Woodman
Author:  Darcy Pattison
Illustrator: Joe Cepeda
Publisher:  Harcourt, Inc.
Publication Date: March, 2003
Pages: 56
Grade Range: K-5
ISBN-13: 9780152023294

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