One thing, probably THE thing, that makes me love reading is how I escape to another place and time in my mind. As the author describes settings and develops characters, I automatically form distinct images of what those people and places look like because, as long as I'm reading, I am in those places and seeing those people face-to-face. There's something magical, relaxing, thrilling, and fun about all of that. When I read, I'm invested.
However, there is something that can upset all of that for me--ignorance. Obviously, not knowing the meaning of words can hinder comprehension, but that's not what I'm talking about right now. I'm referring to geographical ignorance.
It's hard to take a magical journey to another land, if I have no idea what that land is supposed to look like. Sure, I can imagine mountains, rivers, seas, and all the well-known features of our planet. But I will confess that more than once my journey to foreign places has been made difficult because I wasn't quite clear on a geographical term being employed (or I just had no clue).
There's a big difference between a cataract and cascading waterfall. Gullies, gulches, and canyons are not the same. What's the difference between a marsh, swamp, and bog? If you don't live near any sounds and aren't sure how to define them, can you accurately form an image of the area around one as it is described? Here's the conundrum I think I probably come across the most while reading: What is precisely the difference between a creek, stream, and brook (and when does flowing water become a river)?
And now you know.
I'm taking a chance here that I'm not the only one whose reading has been thwarted by limited geographical knowledge, and that some of you will understand the reasoning behind today's Favorite Book Friday selection.
The Boy's schooling this year revolves around world geography, cultures, religions, and ecosystems. It's super fascinating. I have always felt (even while I was in school) that my own education in some of these areas was lacking or outright ignored. It's nice to be learning and to be learning along with my child.
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One of the books he is using is Geography from A to Z (A Picture Glossary).
Every Thursday he learns two new geographical terms from the book (there are over 63). To reinforce what he reads, he has to copy the definition in cursive and illustrate the term (links to the FREE printable sheets we use are at the bottom of this post).
As you can see, I don't make him copy the entire definition. I underline the important part and he copies that portion.
More than once, after going over his new words, I have thought to myself, "Oh! That's what that is!" Or, where I previously had a murky idea of what something is, I have clarified my understanding.
We have completed over half of the book using the method described above. Until last week I never considered using it as a Favorite Book Friday selection. It's just not the sort of book that I intended this series to cover. For some reason, though, the thought suddenly struck me that this is the kind of book that can help you better understand the other books at which this series is aimed.
Another example just because I like this drawing!
I know the author and illustrator have the goal of improving children's knowledge of geography, but I wonder if they thought about improving this knowledge for the sake of forming more accurate visualizations of settings as one enjoys other books besides theirs. Yet, that's where I'm coming from in featuring the book this week.
Just think of how much more magical reading can be for children if they aren't stunted by geographical ignorance causing an inability to form pictures in their minds!
As I'm sitting here, I'm trying to think of some books that could be enhanced by an improved knowledge of geography. It's been a while since I've read some of these, but the first books that come to mind are The Chronicles of Narnia series, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Redwall (this was recently a Favorite Book Friday selection), and every Holling C Holling book I've read (since they're usually based on geography this makes sense). These books all employ highly descriptive language, especially regarding nature and geographical features, and the physical setting often shifts from one type to another.
What books can you think of that would be improved by a foreknowledge of geography?
In closing, I recommend grabbing a copy of Geography from A to Z (A Picture Glossary) and going through it with your child. But I don't think it would be wise to try and go through the book in one or two sittings. It would be too overwhelming, and I'm not sure how much would be retained. I think a weekly study is ideal. It's working for us, for whatever that's worth.
If you're interested in doing what we did, check out the links below for the sheets we use. They're from Mama Jenn--an excellent source for educational ideas and supplements. I often turn to her site for ways to make learning fun and more memorable.
Mama Jenn Copywork and Illustration Pages: Parts 1 and 2 (look towards the bottom, right-hand side of the page for direct links)
Prefer more visually oriented organization? Check out my Pinterest board for all Favorite Book Friday posts.