By Jean Marr, Fort
Wayne, Indiana, June 1992
(With special “thanks” to Brenda Whitsell, 1989 National Geographic Society Summer Geography Institute graduate and Geography Teacher Consultant; based upon her lesson “Reading the Landscape in Children’s Literature, An Appalachian Application. Most of the lesson is Brenda’s original plan, and I could not have done it better; this made my task of adaptation easier!)
Purpose: To demonstrate the use of children’s literature as a resource for learning about the geography of the setting and about knowing the geography of the setting enhances comprehension of the literary story.
Grade Level(s): appropriate for all grade levels
National Geography Standards:
1. How to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report information from a spatial perspective.Indiana English Standards: (not limited to below – expand the activity and worksheet to incorporate and target specific standards you wish to address in upper grade levels)
4. The physical and human characteristics of places.
8. The characteristics and spatial distribution of ecosystems on Earth’s surface.
9. The characteristics, distribution, and migration of human populations on Earth’s surface.
14. How human actions modify the physical environment.
15. How physical systems affect human systems.
Indiana Social Studies Standards:
(not limited to below – expand the activity and worksheet to incorporate
and target specific standards you with to address)
K.3.1, 3.4, 3.5, 5.5, 5.3, 5.4
3.1.6, 3.1, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6, 5.1, 5.2, 5.4
6.1.18, 1.19, 1.20, 3.4, 3.5, 3.7, 3.8, 3.9, 3.10, 3.11, 3.13, 3.14, 3.15, 3.16, 5.3, 5.4, 5.5
Grades Nine – Twelve (dependent upon the course: World History and Civilizations, U.S. History, U.S. Government, Civics and Government, Individual/Society/Cultural)
· a copy of the “Discovering Geography Clues in Literature” handout for each student
· a diverse selection of reading-level appropriate books
· atlases and globes available as resources
Objectives: Upon completion of the following activity, students will be able to
After exploring the geography in several pieces of literature, have students do a piece of their own creative writing for a geographical setting they chose or one assigned to them. The need for knowing about the geographical setting before beginning to write is now a real force. To gain such knowledge they would research sources such as atlases, maps, photos, and data.
Conversely, the topics and places in social studies, geography, and history classes can make use of this strategy to draw on novels, picture books, etc. to enliven and enrich such topics.
Learning about the geography in literature gives the formal dimension of geography a very practical and interesting application. It offers opportunities to assess inaccuracies in the text or illustration and issues of stereotyping. The clue charts facilitate note taking, also. Finally, the geographical understanding of the literature can initiate a variety of other pursuits such as map making.
Students helped to develop an understanding of the landscapes of literature (human and physical) will be, throughout their lives, adding to their framework of geographical knowledge. For every time they read a new selection, its setting will add to their internal map of the world.
Download Geographical Clue Sheet