Teaching Geography with Children’s Literature: Travels with Charlie: Way Down South

Down South, A Search & Find Geography Book

“If you follow Charlie
from state to state,
you’ll see the whole South.
Now, won’t that be great?”

Travels with Charlie: Way Down South, A Search & Find Geography Book, written by Miles Backer and illustrated by Chuck Nitzberg, presents geography and facts about states in the American South in a visually exciting way.  The book begins with a poem, introducing readers to landmarks they’ll see as they “travel” with Charlie, a lovable dog with a red bandanna, through the South.  The book then presents a 2-page spread profiling each southern state.  The left page has facts including State Nickname, State Capital, State flag, interesting “Did You Know…” trivia, and landmarks for readers to identify.  The right page has a map of the state along with comical but educational illustrations depicting key landmarks and state characteristics.  For example, North Carolina – The Tar Heel State – depicts the Wright Brothers Memorial in Kitty Hawk with an illustration of a plane like the one first flown there in 1903.  A picture of a dresser represents the furniture industry in High Point and students learn from the facts that there are over 125 furniture factories in the High Point area.  The “Did You Know…” facts also tell readers about Blackbeard the Pirate and the Lost Colony.  On each state page, Charlie is hidden within the map for readers to find among the state landmark illustrations.  The book concludes by asking readers to find a particular landmark on each state map page; “Can You Find…a festival in Virginia with a big, brass band…?”

Curriculum Connections

Travels with Charlie: Way Down South is appropriate for teaching United States regional geography and state facts to a variety of grade levels from Kindergarten to 5th grade.  This book is a great way to introduce students to the ideas of maps (K.4b), geographical regions, how geography influences people, places, and history (VS.1i, USI.2, USII.2), and factual information about states.  This book is part of the Travels with Charlie series which includes Travellin’ the Northeast and Way out West.  Fourth grade students studying their own state history could also use this book to compare and contrast their state to one or more of the states highlighted in the book, illustrating skills for historical and geographical analysis and good citizenship (VS.1).

Additional Resources

Book: Travels with Charlie: Way Down South, A Search & Find Geography Book
Author: Miles Backer
Illustrator: Chuck Nitzberg
Publisher: Blue Apple Books
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 36
Grade Range: K – 5
ISBN 10: 1-59354-594-0
ISBN 13: 978-1-59354-594-9

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