how maps inspire ( a great father's day book!)

June 10, 2011

How I Learned Geography
How I Learned Geography by Uri Shulevitz

This is the story of a young boy who flees his home country because of war. He and his family relocate to a new country where there lives take a drastic turn. Food is scarce and they are always hungry. (Sounds bleak, I know, but hang in there, it gets better!)

One day his dad goes to the market to get bread. When he returns, to his mother and his dismay, they find that instead of buying bread, his dad has purchased a map!

The boy is furious with his father, who explains, "I had enough money to buy only a tiny piece of bread, and we would still be hungry."

He goes to bed bitter, but the next day, his father hangs up the map. "It took up an entire wall. Our cheerless room was flooded with color."

The boy then becomes fascinated by the map and studies its every detail. It becomes the one thing that transports him out of his own world and into happier places--he visits deserts, cities, fruit groves, and mountains. All because of a map.

The last page reads:
"And so I spent enchanted hours far, far from our hunger and misery. I forgave my father. He was right, after all." (Isn't this perfect for father's day?)

I LOVE this book. I love the story and how it celebrates the power of the imagination. And here's the really good part: it's a true story.

You have to read the author's note in the back to get the full story. But isn't it amazing to think that his father's purchase of a map one evening changed the course of his life? He studied that map so much that after they moved away to a better place, he was able to draw it from memory (check out the image in the book--it's amazing.)

I don't know all the details of his life, but he has written and illustrated quite a few children's books and won the Caldecott medal.

I've never read any of his other works, but am going to look for them.
By Uri Shulevitz: Snow (Caldecott Honor Book)
By Uri Shulevitz: Snow (Caldecott Honor Book)
The twelve dancing princesses,
The twelve dancing princesses,
Look like he has illustrated a version of our current favorite fairy tale. Has anyone read this one?


I'd love to find a beautiful wall map like this one for our home. There's an awesome one in one of our Babar books and it's had me thinking how I could recreate it.

What about you? How do you share geography with your kids? 

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