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Treasure Island to Panem:
Maps as Invitations to Reading & 21st Century Skills

The books in our libraries are filled with maps. When you see a map of the Hundred Acre Wood from Winnie-the-Pooh, do memories of the bee tree and rabbit's house spring to mind? This fictional map is based on the Five Hundred Acre Wood that you can visit through Google Maps.

Maps in books provide the opportunity to address many 21st century skills including using online maps and satellite images, analyzing primary source documents, and constructing maps.

Maps of real places help young people better understand wars in particular regions of the world such as the conflict in Afghanistan through a map of the region found in The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis.

A map can help children visualize the imaginary world of a particular place such as Pane from The Hunger Games. However, in this case, fans have created the maps and shared them on websites such as Deviant Art. The book itself didn't provide a map.

The AASL Standards for the 21st-Century Learner contains items specifically aimed at visual materials found in books including maps. Examples include:

1.1.6 Read, view, and listen for information presented in any format (e.g., textual, visual, media, digital) in order to make inferences and gather meaning.

2.1.6 Use the writing process, media and visual literacy, and technology skills to create products that express new understandings.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative also contains learning outcomes relate to using and integrating information found in maps. Examples include:

Use information gained from illustrations (e.g., maps, photographs) and the words in text to demonstrate understanding of the text (e.g., where, when, why, and how key events occur).

Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.

This presentation is intended to help school librarians and other educators connect maps to reading, teaching, learning, and libraries. Let's explore the following areas:

A History

Books for youth haven't always included maps.

A Dozen Map-Story Connections

Maps are often used in different ways based on the genre:

  1. Picture Books. In picture books, maps provide simple, visual cues to geographic locations. Over on a Mountain by Marianne Berkes is an example.
  2. Mysteries. In a mystery, a map might be used to show clues, illustrate event locations, or track the movement of characters. It might be used by the reader to solve the mystery. Chasing Vermeer and The Calder Game by Blue Balliett and illustrations by Brett Helquist are examples.
  3. Adventures. In an adventure, a map might be used by readers to track a series of events, actions, or steps in the story. The Wind and the Willows is an adventure set in a rural area.
  4. Historical Fiction. In historical fiction, a map might be used to show the location at a particular point in time. Readers might following a real battle or the plights of characters on the underground railroad. The map might help explain historical events like why was Denmark important to the Nazis? The Boys Who Challenged Hitler by Phillip Hoose is an example.
  5. Realistic Fiction. In realistic fiction, a map might show how fictional character move and interact with places in the real world. Wild Man Island by Will Hobbs takes place on Alaska’s A-B-C islands of Admiralty-Baranof-Chichagof. The book provides a map with the key locations. Google Images is a quick way to locate additional maps that have useful information about the vegetation, topography, and other details. Do a Google search for Admiralty-Baranof-Chichagof map.
  6. Fantasy Fiction. In fantasy, a map can be used to track character movements. Dragon Keeper by Carole Wilkinson is an example. Sometimes fantasies incorporate geographical elements from the real-world such as the Yellow River and the Great Wall.
  7. Speculative Fiction. In speculative fiction, a map might show an alternative universe and help readers visualize differences from reality. Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld is an example. Use maps to discuss fantasy versus reality elements of the story in a book.
  8. Comics and Graphic Novels. In comics and graphic novels, maps are often used as part of the storytelling process tracing the path of characters. Theseus and the Minotaur by Yvan Pommaux is an example.
  9. Multiple Maps. Some books provide multiple maps providing different points of view. For instance in the Seekers series by Erin Hunter. Readers see both the Human's View and the Bear's View.
  10. World View. Some maps change how readers view a world they thought they knew. For instance, Wicked by Gregory Macguire re-imagines the land of Oz.
  11. Expanded View. Some authors provide maps that extend the world to include information for an entire series. Brian Jacques' Redwall Map is an example. It's contains a full-sized map of the Redwall world.
  12. Wiki Worlds. Some imaginary worlds have expanded enough to have their own wikis and supplemental materials to go with the map and other book materials. Dinotopia is an example.

A Dozen Types of Book Maps

  1. Town Map. Sweet Pickles books are known for their bright pages. The back endpaper includes a map of the town.
  2. National Park Map. In The Maze by Will Hobbs, a map shows the Maze District of Canyonlands National Park. The map provides a nice overview of key locations associated with the book. However, a visit to the Canyonlands National Park website provides more in-depth maps, distance information, and useful facts about Canyonlands.
  3. World Region Map. Shabanu by Suzanne Fisher Staples contains a map showing a particular region of the world.
  4. Historical Map. Mr. Tucket by Gary Paulsen is set in the mid-19th century and contains a map of the United States showing locations during that time including historical trails.
  5. Map with Inset. Graceling by Kristin Cashore shows a map of an imaginary kingdom with an inset of a specific area. Involve youth in creating insets for their imaginary or real-world maps.
  6. Imaginary Place Map. The Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black contains an imaginary estate map.
  7. Journey Path Map. The Long Walk to Water tells a true story and shows the journey on the map.
  8. Subway Maps. Lost in NYC by Nadja Spiegelman & Sergio García Sánchez weaves subway maps into a graphic novel. The end papers contain a map of the whole system and other maps serve as background.
  9. Star Map. The Copernicus Legacy by Tony Abbott includes a 17th century inspired astronomical star map from Copernicus's time. It can be downloaded along with a teaching guide.
  10. City Cross Section. Gabriel Finley and the Raven’s Riddle by George Hagen shows a cross section of the imaginary world under New York City.
  11. Building Cross Section. The Case of the Stolen Sixpence by Holly Webb contains a cross section of a house.
  12. Maps that Mix Reality & Fantasy. The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer contains a map that mixes fantasy with reality.

A Dozen Ideas for Locating Book Maps

  1. By Author. Use the author's website to locate maps from the book and extended experiences. Go to Patrick Carman's website. When users click locations on The Land of Elyon interactive map, information about the location is provided.
  2. By Illustrator. Do a Google search for a children's illustration. Then, search the site for examples of maps. For instance, children's author and illustrator Jennifer Thermes provides a page featuring her book maps. She has many maps to explore.
  3. By Series. Use the book's series website to locate maps from the books such as The Warriors by Erin Hunter.
  4. By Publisher. Use the publisher's website to locate maps from the book such as Three Times Lucky and The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing by Sheila Turnage.
  5. By Digital Collection. Use Archive.org to locate maps in book that are in the public domain. The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss is an example. HathiTrust is another good source for books such as Tik-Tok of Oz by L. Frank Baum showing the first map of Oz.
  6. By Book Preview: Google Books Preview. Search Google Books. Take a screen capture of the map such as The Tapper Twins series by Geoff Rodkey.
  7. By Book Preview: Barnes and Noble Preview. Search the Barnes and Noble website. Take a screen capture of the map such as The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Boy by William Boniface.
  8. By Book Preview: Amazon Preview. Search Amazon to locate previews with maps. Take a screen capture to get the image such as Unlikely Warrior: A Jewish Soldier in Hitler's Army by Georg Rauch.
  9. By Google Images. Use Google Images to search for a book map. Use Razorhurst by Justine Larbalestier as an example.
  10. By Scanner. Use a scanner to scan the map you wish to use. In some cases you'll need to piece the map together such as The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming.
  11. By Camera. A digital camera on a copystand works best for creating your own images, however even a cell phone camera will work. For instance, In the New World by Christa Holtei contains a color map that can be photographed for use.
  12. By Document Camera. Place the book on the document camera stand to take a picture. However, also consider using this approach for enlarging the map to create a wall-sized version for your library. An old-fashioned overhead projector or opaque projector will work too!

A Dozen Real-world Maps

Many works of fiction for youth are set in real locations around the world. In many cases, the authors of these books have provided maps to help readers better understand the setting of the story. These maps provide an important starting point for exploration of the book’s setting along with insights into the characters and plot. Many works of narrative nonfiction contain useful maps too.

  1. Each book in the Travels with Gannon & Wyatt series by Patti Wheeler and Keith Hemstreet focuses on a different area of the world including Botswana, Greenland, Egypt, and the Great Bear Rainforest. Based on the experiences of real-life teens, the maps help connect the fictional adventures to real places. Readers can even go online and examine authentic photos and videos to learn more about the exotic book locations.
  2. Like NERDS, The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable by Dan Gutman encourages youth to use online tools like Google Maps as they read the book. From locating West Marin Middle School in Point Reyes Station, California to the National Mustard Museum in Middle, Wisconsin, readers are treated to a wide range of interesting locations in this cross-country adventure.
  3. At the beginning of each chapter in NERDS by Michael Buckley, the author prints latitude and longitude coordinates that youth can enter into Google Maps to identify specific locations. Using Google Street View , readers can even see through the eyes of characters as they walk down the street.
  4. Compare fictional maps to real areas of the world to bring the places alive. For instance, Arthur: The Seeing Stone by Kevin Crossley-Holland provides a map. Look for historical photos and recreations to visualize the elements of the manor. Go on the Magical History Tour.
  5. Many of today’s most popular informational books convey content through a compelling scientific, cultural, or historical maps.
    Many of the Magic Tree House books by Mary Pope Osborne now come with a companion book that contains maps cooresponding to the location of the story. For instance, Fact Tracker: Rain Forests is the companion to Afternoon on the Amazon. It contains a map of rainforests around the world.
  6. Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson incorporates a map of the assassin’s route. The Killing Lincoln website from National Geographic provides a series of interactive maps showing the timeline and key locations. Ask students to use Google Maps to trace the same route today. Identify the place names that have changed and those that have remained the same.
  7. Passenger on the Pearl by Winifred Conkling tells the true story of Emily Edmonson’s flight from slavery. The nonfiction book includes maps showing the escape route of those slaves leaving on the Pearl and the routes of slaves sold to the South during what is known as the Second Middle Passage. Pair this work of nonfiction with fictional accounts of slave escape attempts. Online maps can be used to highlight specific aspects of slavery and the Underground Railroad. The US Slave Animation map shows slave and free states between 1789 and 1861, and the Compare Two Worlds map shows what was happening in the North versus the South. Extend the discussion with an exploration of other Underground Railroad escape attempts. The National Park Service Underground Railroad Map provides a map showing hundreds of locations related to the Underground Railroad.
  8. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand is a young adult adaptation of the bestselling book about Olympic runner Louie Zamperini’s experience as a castaway and captive during World War II. A map of the Pacific Ocean provides an overview of the setting for this engaging, true story. Show youth a timeline map of his story at TripLine. Then ask them to investigate another individual and use TripLine to visualize their story on a timeline map.
  9. Plastic Ahoy! Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by Patricia Newman tells the story of scientists investigating the huge cluster of plastic debris in the Pacific Ocean. A map of the region in the book shows the ocean currents and debris. NOAA’s Marine Debris shows a similar view of these patterns. Do a Google Images search to locate dozens of infographics containing maps such as the one at Visual.ly. Ask students to pick the visual that they think best represents the problem and explain why.
  10. The Case of the Vanishing Little Brown Bats: A Scientific Mystery (2015) by Sandra Markle includes a map of the eastern half of the United States showing the areas with bats affected by White-Nose Syndrome. Involve youth in seeking out maps and information from specific states. Ask students to compare the data from the book’s map with what they find. Also, involve then in tracing the changes over time. The White-Nose Syndrome website posts updated maps every few months.
  11. The Polar Bear Scientists by Peter Lourie from the Smithsonian Scientists in the Field series follows biologists as they track polar bears to learn more about global warming. The Bear Tracker website contains an interactive map where youth can follow bears in close to real-time. Use maps suggested by the book.
  12. Increasingly, books for youth are incorporating maps and satellite images. The Skull in the Rock by Lee R. Berger and Marc Aronson incorporates maps and labeled images from Google Earth.

A Dozen Historical Maps

Many works of historical fiction contain maps.

  1. Ghost Hawk by Susan Copper is set in 17th century New England. Involve youth in learning to use digital collections to find maps of particular time periods such as those from OsherMaps.
  2. Rather than exploring the entire world, the map in Jason’s Gold by Will Hobbs focuses on the Pacific Northwest in 1897 associated with the Klondike gold rush. The map provides an overview, but lacks a feel for the historical aspects. The National Park Service maps can fill the gap between the general map in the book and the specific areas mentioned in the book including Seattle, Skagway, and the routes north. Discovery Channel provides interactive maps of the area with historical photos. The David Rumsey Map Collection contains a great map published in 1898 showing routes north.
  3. Many maps serve scientific purposes. One of the most famous maps was produced by Dr. John Snow during London’s cholera epidemic. The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel is a work of historical fiction by Deborah Hopkinson. Focusing on London’s cholera epidemic, a map created by Dr. John Snow plays a critical role in identifying the cause of the epidemic. Use this book and map to jumpstart a discussion of the role maps can play in a wide range of scientific investigations. An interactive version of this map is available at The Guardian. To extend the discussion, involve youth in examining the Google’s Flu Trends map at and discuss how modern researchers use maps in their research.
  4. Inspired by family stories, The Birchbark House by Louis Erdrich includes a hand drawn map containing an overview of the local community in 1847 along with a map of present day northern Minnesota. Use the Ojibwe People’s Dictionary to associate historical photos such as the dwellings with the icons used on the map. Also, look at how Indian lands changed after this story took place at The Invasion of America.
  5. In many cases, historical fiction is set in a particular town or city. Brooklyn Bridge by Karen Hesse includes a detailed map of 1903 Brooklyn on the endpapers. You can find many online maps of the Brooklyn Bridge area using NYPL Map Warper. Unfortunately, we don't have a historical version of Google Street View. However you can create your own by locating images referred to on the map. The Library of Congress is a great place to start. A search for Brooklyn Bridge yields an image from between 1900 and 1910, a perfect match for the book.
  6. The Bomb by Theodore Taylor contains a map of the Bikini Atoll in the Western Pacific Ocean. However, an even more interesting map of the BRAVO Test Fallout Pattern helps reader understand the impact of the bomb on islanders.
  7. While many fiction books for children and young adults contain maps, others focus on specific locations but don’t include maps or other visuals to help youth envision the setting. For instance, Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool is set in Missouri during the Depression. Use Photogrammar to locate Missouri and find a wealth of photos taken in 1936. HistoryPin is another project that matches locations with historical images.
  8. Rodzina by Karen Cushman follows a twelve-year-old girl as she travels west on the orphan train in 1881. Use old railroad maps to trace her path across the United States as she travels through Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, and Nevada to California chapter by chapter. The Library of Congress Railroad Maps, 1828-1900 collection contains dozens of maps for youth to explore. Discuss what map would be best for identifying the railroad lines in 1881. Help youth use the search tools. Ask them to select and defend their choice of a map that would be most useful in tracking Rodzina’s way west such as the 1875 Rand McNally & Co’s New Railroad and County Map.
  9. Sacajawea by Joseph Bruchac includes a map of the Lewis and Clark Trail. The Lewis and Clark Journey Log from National Geographic provides up-close maps along with journal entries. An interactive Google Map traces the journal and also provide access to journal entries along the way. Finally, the National Park Service’s interactive maps details information about each location where Lewis and Clark stopped.
  10. Once on this Island by Gloria Whelan focuses on northern Michigan and specifically Mackinac Island during the War of 1812. The map in the book shows the area in 1812. The book explores an American perspective. Use Canadian resources from War of 1812 including maps to learn more about the Canadian perspective on the war.
  11. Military Path Map. Soldier's Heart by Gary Paulsen shows the path of the First Minnesota Volunteers during the Civil War. Many online, interactive maps including Civil War Animated can be used to help youth understand Civil War battles.
  12. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys is set in 1941. Maps shows the route Lina and her family traveled from Lithuania to the North Pole during the course of the book. An accompanying timeline shows the day of the journey and their location. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) provides a wealth of information and historical maps showing Lithuania and other locations from the time period. Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein takes place at the Ravensbruck Concentration Camp. Readers can view maps of the camp at the USHMM.

When reading historical fiction, it can be helpful for students to use historical maps. This is particularly important with historical fiction where locations may have changed tremendously over time. For instance, the USGS Historical Topographic Maps allows users to overlay maps from the past with maps from the present for locations throughout the United States. For lots of other examples of how historical maps can be used in the classroom, go to Boston Public Library Maps, Historic Maps in K-12, and Library of Congress Map Collections.

2 Dozen Imaginary World Maps

Provide youth with a list of books with maps and a list of project options. Let them choose the combination.

  1. Inkheart series by Cornelia Funke. Add a journey path based on a book.
  2. Prydain books from Lloyd Alexander. Critique the map.
  3. Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin. Identify elements of the map.
  4. The Young Elites by Marie Lu. Extend the universe. What's beyond the borders of the map?
  5. Dr. Critchlore's School for Minions by Sheila Grau. Write a scene set in one of the locations.
  6. Seraphina and Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman. Create an inset map of an area.
  7. Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen by Garth Nix. Locate character movement on the map.
  8. The Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan. Create a different type of map.
  9. Wings of Fire by Tui T Sutherland. Write a short story with new characters.
  10. Tricker’s Choice by Tamora Pierce. Built a diorama of the islands.
  11. Luck Uglies by Paul Durham. Create a floor plan of a building from a scene.
  12. Seaborne: The Lost Prince by Matt Myklusch. Create a treasure map for this world.
  13. Spirit Animals by varied authors. Invent your own spirit animal and place them in this world.
  14. The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau. What would characters say about the map?
  15. The Death of Yorik Mortwell by Stephen Messer. Title a new story an area of the map. Put the setting at the center of the story.
  16. The Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula K. LeGuin. What would happen if elements on the maps were different? How might it impact the story?
  17. Wildwood by Colin Meloy. Can you find a fantasy place in your town?
  18. The Secrets of Droon by Tony Abbott. Create an imaginary map, then create labels like the ones in Droon.
  19. The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker. The author adapted real places for her fantasy setting. For instance, she adapted the floorplan of a real palace. Choose a place and make your own adapted map.
  20. Nursery Rhyme Land (1925) (Map). Create a map that combines your favorite story places.
  21. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. These books didn't have maps. However, the author used a sketch for her writing activities. Many others have created their own vision of Hogwarts. Which fits best with your ideas? Examples: Hogwarts by Charles J. Mize, Wizard's Atlas.
  22. How to Train Your Dragon. Interactive maps are often found on book series websites. The How to Train Your Dragon website contains an interactive map providing information about the book locations, characters, and creatures.
  23. Edge Chronicles. Use interactive maps to inspire students to create their own informational sheets on areas of a map. The Edge Chronicles websites contains an interactive map with information about the location and it's creatures.
  24. Lord of the Rings. Do a search for the title of a book and the word "interactive map" and you'll find cool online maps like Lord of the Rings: Interactive Map. Use Wikia Map to encourage youth to create their own interactive maps using an existing image or upload a picture. For instance, fans of The Lord of the Rings are creating their own stories based on a map called Fan Fiction Tales from the Black Gate.

A Dozen Ideas for Book Maps in Learning & Libraries

  1. Connect with Interactive Maps. Connect real-world settings to fictional stories. Endangered and Threatened by Eliot Schrefer contain maps of Africa. Compare these to the real conservation areas. The map in Endangered shows The Democratic Republic of Congo formerly known as Zaire. An interactive map from the Bonobo Conservation Initiative identifies the locations of bonobo protected areas.
  2. Compare and Discuss. Fan maps can easily be found online. First, ask them to search for maps such as Warriors cat maps. Compare and discuss the maps. Ask students whether the maps reflect the books. Examples including Warrior Cats 1 by Erin Hunter and Warrior Cats 2. Each uses different tools and approaches.
  3. Compare to Satellite Images. Compare the map in a book to satellite images of the same area. Talk about the advantages and disadvantages of maps vs. satellite images. Discuss how they connect to understanding the text of the book. Many of Will Hobbs’s books contain maps. Never Say Die by Will Hobbs shows a map of Alaska along with the Yukon and Northwest Territories. Use topographical maps to bring the terrain of the area surrounding the Firth River to life. Download Topographical Maps of the region. Also, use an interactive map to learn about the types of scientific projects happening in Northern Canada. The USGS provides free topographical maps that can be downloaded in the PDF format.
  4. Follow Journey Path Map. A Girl Named Disaster by Nancy Farmer features a map of Africa showing the map of a character. A Girl Named Disaster by Nancy Farmer traces Nhamo’s Journey from Mozambique to Zimbabwe to escape an unwanted marriage. The book’s maps provide an overview of the continent along with the two countries. Google Earth would be useful in providing an overview of the area, along with the ability to zoom in on details such as the rivers and lakes.
  5. Read and Create Path Maps. Involve students in reading path maps. Then, ask students read a book or series, ask them to create a path map that shows the movement of characters such as Red Pyramid.
  6. Draw from Character's Perspective. The map in My Side of the Mountain by George Craighead George was drawn of Sam's perspective. Read any book and create a map from the perspective of a character.
  7. Compare to Period Maps. Compare the map in a book to authentic, historical period maps. Discuss why the specific features were selected for the book's map. Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison by Lois Lenski contains a picture map of the Seneca Indian lands of the Genesee River Valley between 1758-1760. Ask students to compare a Historical Map to the drawing in the book. Also, use maps to show the location of Indian groups throughout the United States.
  8. Compare Alternative History. Compare the steampunk genre map in Boneshaker by Cherie Priest to historical maps of the same time period. Create your own alternative map.
  9. Build Island Maps. An island is a common book setting. Maps of islands like Nim's Island by Wendy Orr are fun for youth to create, discuss, and storytell around.
  10. Follow an Event. Like Will Hobbs, Gary Paulsen is also known for his books about Alaska. Woodsong by Gary Paulsen contains a map of Alaska focusing on the Iditarod sled dog race. The Official Race map is a great way to help youth explore concepts related to distance through the sled dog race. The Scholastic website also provides an easy-to-use map.
  11. Connect to Current Events. In Crossing the Wire by Will Hobbs, a young boy crosses between Mexico and Arizona. A map shows the borderlands as well as a larger view of the area. The interactive map Securing the Southwest Border shows changes over the past decade in the number of apprehensions and agents along the border.
  12. Use Online Teaching Resource. Search for teacher guides to go with books. The Map to Everywhere website contains a fact-sheet librarians can download to learn more about maps.
    The Hank the Cowdog (by John R. Erickson) website contains a printable map showing the setting for the book.

A Dozen Ideas for Building Maps

There are many traditional and emerging tools for map making.

  1. Label Maps. Explore The Booklovers Map of America (1926). Use Thinglink to create your own. For example, The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm. The Imaginary Veterinary Series by Suzanne Selfors is set in the imaginary town of Buttonville. Copy the Buttonville map from the author's website and place it in PowerPoint. Then, add autoshape labels.
  2. Annotate Maps. Annotate a map using tools from Glogster. Check out a student's project at Glogster based on the map in The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.
  3. Locate Maps. The Kingdom of Wrenly map can be downloaded from the series website. Then, it can be expanded, modified, or labeled.
  4. Use Traditional Tools. Take ideas from various books about the same place to create your own map. For instance, the Neverland Map combined ideas from the Peter Pan books and movies using traditional tools. Use crayons such as The Great Gatsby to map a city. and colored pencils such as Camp Half-Blood to to map a scene.
  5. Paint Tools. Involve youth in designing their own island. Focus on terms associated with land forms such as archipelago, cape, cliff, estuary, isthmus, waterfall, and peninsula. This is a great opportunity to practice using painting and drawing tools. Online tools like Sumo Paint work well for designing an island. Use paint tools to visualize any book such as Lord of the Flies.
  6. Enhance an Original. Ask youth to select a map from a book and create their own modified version. For instance, check out a colored version Alagesia from Eragon.
  7. Map Making SoftwareNeighborhood MapMachine is a commercial software package that allows students to create maps of their own community or imaginary places. Ask youth to create a map for a fiction book that doesn’t currently contain a map. Share these on an “imaginary neighborhoods” bulletin board featuring books with and without maps
  8. Random City Generator. The Random City Map Generator is a tool students can use to create a randomly generated city or town that can be used for their own story.
  9. Online Island Generator. The online Polygon Map Generation tool can be used to create generate your own island. Users can choose their island’s shape, points, and views.
  10. Creature Creator. My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett is full of interesting icons representing the flora and fauna of the islands. Students enjoy adding these types of symbols to their maps. The 1949 Newbery Honor book My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett is now in the public domain and available online. The endpapers contain a beautiful illustration of the Island of Tangerina and Wild Island. The map is filled with interesting real and fictional creatures.Involve youth in drawing their own island and filling it with their own imaginary creatures. Use online creature creators for creature ideas including the Creature Creator. Do a Google search for “creature creator” for many other online tools.
  11. Fantasy Map Software. Both open source and propriety software are available for creating fantasy maps. AutoREALM is a popular tool for creating maps of cities, castle, caves, and other fantasy elements. For high quality commercial software to create worlds, cities, and other types of imaginary places, try Pro Fantasy Software.
  12. Share Maps. The social network DeviantArt is a popular way to share artwork. Many youth create their own interpretation of worlds such as Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and the Divergent books that don't contain maps.

A Dozen Ways to Promote a Passion for Maps

Use books to promote an interest in visual literature and maps.

  1. Start Young! Connect books, maps, and music to get young children interested in maps like those in Dora the Explorer books.
  2. Point Out Maps. Maps can be found in many popular books. Point them out to readers and encourage them to seek out maps. For instance, there's a map in Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis.
  3. Focus on Adventure. Each book in the National Park mystery series by Gloria Skurzynski and Alane Ferguson focuses on a different national park. Excellent maps show the location of the park in the United States along with a detailed map of the park. The National Park Service is known for their quality maps for each national park. The Adventures with the Parkers series by Mike Graf incorporate the official National Park Service maps into their books. Use the Find A Park interactive map to locate parks by name, location, activity, and topic.
  4. Think Local! If you near Alcatraz, read books set on this famous island. The Al Capone at Alcatraz website is a companion to the Tales of Alcatraz books by Gennifer Choldenko. Check out National Park Service Alcatraz maps.
  5. Encourage Mapmaking. Encourage mapmaking through reading books such as The Map Trap by Andrew Clement (teacher resources).
  6. Seek out Picture Books with Maps. Books like Henry's Map by David Elliot explore the usefulness of maps for young children.
  7. Focus on Fantasy Map Makers. The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove from the Mapmakers series focuses on a mapmaker in an alternative universe. Set in an alternative 1891 where continents have been flung into different time periods, thirteen-year-old Sophia Tims must travel into uncharted lands in search of her kidnapped uncle. In this series, mapmaking has become a fine art including elements of science and magic. Readers can download copies of the maps at the series website.
  8. Immerse Readers. The MapMaker Chronicles is a new series by Australian author A.L. Tait.
  9. Read Maps. Encourage youth to use maps for orientation and visualizing a setting.
  10. Connect Maps. Connect the map to the plot, characters, and setting of the book.
  11. Analyze Maps. Use maps to think about the spatial events of the story.
  12. Imagine with Maps. Encourage youth to think beyond the book and imagine their own stories based on the map.

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