Teaching Geography with Children’s Literature: Buster


Buster, a book written by Denise Fleming, follows a dig named Buster through his quest to get away from the new family pet, a cat named Betty.  Not only is Buster afraid of cats, but he ruled the roost before Betty came along.  Buster had his own dishes with his name, a large grassy yard with a tall oak tree to nap under, a sandpit for taking dirt baths, an in-and-out flap on the back door, a basketful of toys, and a radio tuned to his favorite station.  However, Betty came along, she took over all of his private spaces and even changed his radio station, so Buster ran away from the house.  He spent the day at a nearby park but could not find his way back home after dark.  He searched for familiar clues or anything he would recognize, but found nothing until he saw Betty waving her paw.  He followed Betty all the way home and realized how nice she was after all.     Buster teaches students  the importance of looking for familiar landmarks when they are lost.  The students will enjoy following Buster as he ventures to and from the park.

Here are a few excerpts from the book.

  • “Not his usual park but a fine park with tall trees, a bubbling fountain, tubs of flowers, large grassy patches, and not a cat in sight.” (pg. 16)
  • “He looked up the street.  He looked down the street.  Nothing looked familiar.” (pg. 27)
  • “Buster ran out of the park, around two corners, over five streets, turned left, and ran up the block.” (pg. 37)

Curriculum Connections:
is an easy-read with wonderful illustrations to help students in kindergarten and first grade learn about geography. For kindergarten students, this book will help them use simple maps and globes to develop an awareness that a map is a drawing of a place to show where things are located, describe places referenced in stories and real-life situations, and to locate land and water features.  (VA SOL K.4)  For first graders, students will develop map skills by recognizing basic map symbols, including references to land, water, cities and globes.  (VA SOL 1.4) 

Additional Resources

  • This kindergarten map activity is great for teaching both kindergarten and first grade students to how look for familiar landmarks to help them know where they are.  You can use the school or the classroom as a reference point.
  • This Lesson Plan, geared towards first graders but easily adaptable for kindergartners, is a great resource for teachers giving an introductory lesson on maps.
  • This website offers a great idea for a lesson plan on mapping your school yard to help kids understand direction.

Book: Buster
Author: Denise Fleming
Illustrator: N/A
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication Date: September 2003
Pages: 40 Pages
Grade Range: Kindergarten and First Grade
ISBN: 978-0805062793

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