As a child I can vividly remember a couple of atlases that I had that I found endlessly fascinating. One was a huge Times Atlas of the World that was really old – many of the countries had changed names or were no longer in existence, having broken up further into smaller countries etc.
Another was a book my Uncle bought me when I was in my early teens. He was always keen to open my eyes to the inqualities in the world and encourage a social conscience and the book was called The State of the World and showed the world map in different ways, some represented the world’s wealth, others human rights violations and others population. It was so fascinating and it was a book I used a lot in my A-Level years and one that I have returned to again and again as I’ve got older. I really must seek out a revised and updated version.
Atlases help children explore the world – it helps my children identify new areas to think about studying and opens up conversations and new areas of interest. I wanted to share some of our favourite atlases for curious children. These are all books that we have and books that my children use and refer to on a reasonably regular basis.
First up has to be my very favourite series of atlases – The Atlas of Adventures by Lucy Letherland are so so good. We have all four or the large atlases and each one is very worthy of a position on any child’s bookcase. The four books are:
- Atlas of Adventures
- Atlas of Animal Adventures
- Atlas of Dinosaur Adventures
- Atlas of Adventures – Wonders of the World
These books are large ‘oversized’ books and take the reader on an adventure around the world. They are illustrated edge to edge and the latest one, Wonder of the World is simply fantastic. The reader visits The Great Wall of China as well as the Eiffel Tower. We really enjoyed looking at Petra and the Great Pyramid of Giza. Each double page spread provides so much to look at it through its fabulous rich illustrations as well as the snippets of information included. This series is always one we look to for new project ideas as there’s always a link through one of the books and they’re such fun to browse through.
A more ‘hands on’ book is the Scratch and Discover World Atlas. We have been using this alongside our Sassafras science work (the characters in this travel around the world) and have been scratching off sections as and when we visit them in our story. Each double page spread features lots of little patches to scratch away and discover new things. For example, the Europe section asks the reader to find ten buildings, some of which require uncovering. When the children have uncovered things they’ve been asking me questions and its prompted lots of (unexpected!) conversations.
A new one we have been looking at is the Maps of the United Kingdom. This is a book we usually use when Damian is at the football – we take a look at the city / town he is visiting and read a little about it.
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Today Damian has been to Bournemouth for the football so I've been solo parenting. We have had a busy and productive day and we have just been looking where Daddy travelled to using the fab Maps of the United Kingdom. This is a great book packed with stacks of information all about the UK and, of course, it has some fabulous maps in there. The children did comment thay Bournemouth was such a long way away. Yes it is hence why Daddy will be tired when he gets home later!
This book is really quite clever and deceptive – it includes lots of places that you don’t usualy find in the atlas books – the children were excited to see their home town in there as well as the bigger cities that they’re familiar with. We have spent time looking at the places we have visited to see what the book mentions and they were thrilled to see some of the places they’ve visited, as well as choosing new places for us to go to.
Another fun and innovative atlas is the Illuminatlas. This is the third in the series by Carnovsky (Illuminature and illuminatomy are the first two) and it’s every but and innovative and engaging as I expected it to be. As soon as Daniel saw this one arrive he was desperate to get a look at it. The book comes complete with a set of viewing lenses – one red, one green and one blue. When you leaf through the book you look through the lens. When viewing via the red lens then you get to see the cultural highlights, the green lens is the map and the blue lens is natural wonders. The blue lens can be a bit frustrating sometimes as in darker light (like at nighttime) it’s hard to view easily, but it really is a fantastic book and the way that the different elements are overlayed and viewed is so very clever. Each double page spread of illustrations are followed up with a double page spread providing details on what you are viewing. Daniel loves just looking at this book, seeing what he can see through the lens and then spotting it on the information pages.
And finally, every home should own a Times Atlas of the World. My grandparents bought up a copy a few years ago and it’s a book that is endlessley interesting and intriguing – there’s so much to explore and discuss.