Are Living Books for Geography a Good Idea?
Living Books. That’s been a buzzword in homeschool circles for the last several years. But usually it’s in reference to history books. What about Living Books for Geography?
Living Books for History
Of course, the whole trend started with history. It was the concept of reading real stories, or stories based on real events and real people, to go beyond the basic facts.
Because all of us learn better with a good story.
After all, memorizing the names and dates of, say, the Civil War pales in comparison to reading about a family torn apart because one son fights for the Union and the other son fights for the Confederacy. The drama draws us in and holds our attention, impacting us and leaving us with lifelong memories.
And a desire to read more.
So can living books apply the same way to geography? And how does that work?
Living Books for Geography
Well, first, living books are not nearly as plentiful for geography. Not even close. So there is that.
And, as is typical of geography, there tends to be a good selection of books for the more “popular” countries, the bigger, well-known countries. And then there are just a few, if any at all, for the others.
Bottom line, you can’t rely on living books to give a well-rounded taste of the world for your kids. There will be significant gaps.
Some countries are no problem. But most are not as fortunate.
So if you want to give your child a view of the entire globe with its many countries and many cultures, living books by themselves are not enough.
Living Books For Geography: Some Examples
Does that mean living books for geography aren’t worth the trouble?
Not at all!
Although they may not be as plentiful as living books for history, they are great fun when they do turn up. And when kids meet real people and see real places with a good story, they will be drawn in and want to learn more!
What are some good living books to start with?
Honestly, I am just starting to make a big list. So please feel free to share your finds in the comments below!
Here are a few of my favorites. And in no particular order. And, yes, they are affiliate links…that way you can find these easily!!
I really enjoyed Only the Mountains Do Not Move: A Maasai Story of Culture and Conservation by Jan Reynolds. I read this one to my homeschool co-op geography class, and the kids were fascinated by the Maasai’s unique way of life. Not fiction, but still fascinating. And the photos are great. You could use this with either Tanzania or Kenya, since both countries have Maasai villages.
Another favorite is Welcome Back Sun by Michael Emberley. After all, the idea that some countries have very little daylight during winter months is a brand new concept for most kids and can be hard for them to grasp. But “Welcome Back Sun” helps with that. This story is about a young girl in Norway who goes with her village on the traditional yearly trek up a mountain to welcome back the sun after a dreary, dark winter.
My last recommendation for this post is a recent find. I just did the Let’s Go Geography lesson on Spain with my homeschool co-op class, and as I was in the middle of everything, it dawned on me that I had a book to go along with it!! Since it was a Zoom class and I was at home, I grabbed “The Story of Ferdinand” by Munro Leaf right off my shelf and showed the kids. This one is a fun, child-appropriate look at bullfighting, which has been a part of Spain’s culture for about the last 300 years. The book has been around since 1936, so I’d put it in the “children’s classics” category!
Now It’s Your Turn!
Well, that’s just the start. There are so many more. Please let everyone know your favorites in the comments below!!