I'm drowning in books as I plan the school year. It's so bad, we had to eat dinner outside because I have the table covered in books. If the library didn't know who I was before this, they will by the time I'm done. I have put a lot of books on hold. A lot.
So since that is all I can think about, I thought I would share some of the books I've come across that I have found to be worthwhile. (Trust me when I say there are a lot of incredibly dull geography books out there. The world is such an interesting place, it really seems a shame that so many books about different countries are so fantastically dry.)
Here's my short list... so far. I will probably have to do a part 2 after all my books arrive.
My very favorite is Australia to Zimbabwe: A Rhyming Romp Around the World by Ruth Fitts. This book focuses on 26 countries, and does a good job of giving an overview of each one. What I love is that there are lists of resources, from music to film to books, for each country. This one book has made my job significantly easier. Well, at least for the countries we are doing that are in it.
For the ones that aren't in the previous book, I also like The Travel Book: A Journey Through Every Country in the World by lonely planet kids. While it doesn't go into the same level of detail, this book does hit the highlights for every single country in the world. It is particularly useful for countries that publishers don't write books about.
Then we come to the dry, elementary non-fiction category. Those books which are published to cover all the major countries. They tend to look alike and read alike, though I have a hunch that no child has ever read through an entire volume of any of the larger and drier ones. I can be kind of hard on this genre, because I have seen it from the other side. It is difficult to write an interesting book while staying within the publishers exceptionally rigid guidelines. From personal experience, I can tell you it is easier to just stop trying to make it interesting and include words of more than two syllables rather than fight a losing battle. The Midwest is not nearly so dull as the book J. and I wrote would make it out to be. But I digress. Again.
I did find one series that isn't too bad, and I think will be somewhat interesting to read to everyone. It's the It's Cool to Learn About Countries series (Social Studies Explorer), and I have the Vietnam volume right now. It's not too long or indepth for grade school, but it isn't a ten word on a page easy reader book, either. It seems to hit a nice balance. It also has a craft project and a recipe included, which I like. It has volumes which cover quite a few other countries, so that takes care of 10 of our 19. Another series which I will use is called Exploring Countries, and it is more of an easy reader style (marked level 5, so on the high side). There is not as much content as the first series, but not too bad, either, and gives some good content. This series covers 20 countries, and is filling in a few more on my list.
Finally, since I have a lot of people who are on the cusp of reading fluently, I wanted to find some resources that could also double as reading practice. Ready to Read has a level 2 series, called Living in.... [fill in the name of a country]. Each book introduces a child who lives in that country, and they tell about their family, where they live, where they go to school, what they eat, etc. I had G. give a page a try for me today, and she liked it. There are quite a few countries which are covered.
I still have a few books on hold which haven't arrived yet. A couple of these have potential to be useful and interesting. I'll let you know if they pan out. So often a non-fiction book sounds as though it will be fantastic, and the reality is often a little disappointing. It's why I currently have approximately 100 books checked out, and over half will be going back, never to be checked out again. I love libraries. They're free and require zero commitment.
Edited to add, something is up with Blogger and it won't let me embed Amazon links at the moment. Which means you can't shop through my link at the moment. Unless of course you want to take the time to go back through old posts to a previous link and enter Amazon that way.
I also forgot to add that I have another article published. Feel free to click and share. Four Times I Wasn't a Perfect Parent and What You Can Learn