Dorling Kindersley’s newest atlas is here, so let’s take a minute to look at Countries of the World.
Want to know more about this book? This is our take!
But first…a little background.
Here at Let’s Go Geography, we recommend using an atlas that features individual countries. Since the curriculum teaches 1 country at a time, it follows that the best atlas with the curriculum should work that way, too.
It just makes sense.
Our First Atlas
When I first started writing the Let’s Go Geography curriculum, my atlas of choice was DK’s Geography of the World. But the 2006 copyright date was a cause for concern. Where was the update?
I even went so far as to write the company at one point, but never got a response. So I watched and waited.
Then in 2020, DK put out not just a revision, but a sequel, of sorts.
To put it another way, this book does not just update Geography of the World. It’s a total re-write.
New pictures, new content, new topics, new layout.
An Atlas Comparison
So how do these 2 books compare?
Good question. Let’s dive right in.
First, an overall first impression. And let’s get real. This is MY personal impression. Yours may differ, but here it is.
When I flip through the pages and glance at the countries, I feel that Countries of the World is not as in-depth.
The information blocks are shorter. The snippets of information are shorter. The illustrations are bigger.
On the flip side, the Countries of the World does seem to cover more topics.
Countries of the World: An Observation
On a side note, it seems to me that most references to religion are absent in the new Countries of the World atlas.
First, statistics related to religion are gone from each page’s Fact Box.
But religion seems to be missing in other places, too.
For instance, the pages on Mexico in the [old] Geography of the World refer to festivals and mention the religions that celebrate them. In Countries, we find only the Day of the Dead, without reference to any specific religion on the entire page.
Without going into too much detail, I see the same thing when comparing Portugal, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Italy. I did not look at every page to check this, so those are just a few examples.
Thankfully, the page on Vatican City still refers to the Catholic church and the pope, which is pretty critical information when you look at that part of the world.
But in general, religion seems to be downplayed or gone.
I just found that interesting. I’m not sure the reasoning behind that one. But there you have it.
Specific Atlas Comparisons
Let’s get to a specific page and break it down with a topic comparison of a country.
Old atlas vs. New atlas.
Let’s choose Greece.
Geography of the World (AKA old atlas) has these topics (with 3-4 sentence blurbs) —
Tourism, Athens, Shipping, Greek Orthodox Church, Farming, & Ancient Greek History
Countries of the World (AKA new atlas) has these topics (with 1-2 sentence blurbs) —
Olympic Torch, Athena’s City, Kalamata olives, Shipping industry, Greek pottery, Greek salad, Jersey tiger moth, Santorini island, Folk festivals
To break it down for you, the old Geography atlas looked at economy, religion, history, and key sites.
The new Countries atlas looks at athletics, art, food, animals, industry, key sites, and festivals.
Countries of the World: The Final Word
My opinion? I like both for different reasons. Geography of the World seems to have more “meat on its bones.” More information. Less fluff.
Countries of the World has more color. Less words. Yes, it’s fun.
When you consider that your atlas should be just a starting point, Countries of the World is good option. A good place to briefly hit the highlights and get kids started on their own (internet) research. At least for grades 4/5+.
Grades K-3/4 will get just a few fun, basic facts with a lot of color. Then the Let’s Go Geography curriculum broadens kids’ horizons with more photos and video on the country so they get a well-rounded view.
So there you have it. And now the links for you!
Click here for the (older) Geography of the World atlas.
Click here for the (NEW) Countries of the World atlas.
Click here for the (AWESOME) Let’s Go Geography curriculum.
Enjoy! Feel free to comment and let me know what you think about either atlas!
And, as always, please remember that all outside links are affiliate links. We earn a small commission from purchases made through these links.