It probably won’t surprise you, given I’m the author of a series called The Mapmaker Chronicles, but I love maps – in particular, old maps. I love that they give us a snapshot, at any given time, of what was known and what was not, and I love the incredible, artistic detail on antique maps.
These days, Google maps are (mostly) accurate and efficient, but I do miss those angels in the corner blowing the winds about, the sea monsters frolicking in the deep, and the mermaids awaiting unsuspecting sailors.
If you want to see art at it’s very best, however, ask a child to draw a map – either of their neighbourhood, which shows you how they see the world, or of a made-up world, which shows you how they’d like the world to be.
The good news is that there are plenty of terrific books out there to inspire a love and appreciation of maps in your family. Start with these books for kids about maps:
Mapping Penny’s World
By Loreen Leedy
Combines information about maps with a lovely story in which a girl named Lisa makes maps of the various places her dog, Penny, hangs out.
Me On The Map
By Joan Sweeney (Illustrator: Annette Cole)
Gives kids an idea of the size of the world, as it begins with a map of a bedroom and then pans out from there to the narrator’s house, street, town and so on.
By David Elliot
Henry is a most particular pig who tries to clean up the messy barnyard by drawing a map to show the other animals where they belong.
There’s a Map on My Lap
By Tish Rabe (Illustrator Aristides Ruiz)
Inspired by Doctor Suess, this is a riotous, rhyming introduction to maps as some adventurous friends follow a map together. Shows the different kinds of maps and the symbols and other tools we use to read them.
Map My Neighborhood
By Jennifer Boothroyd
Follow a little girl as she maps her neighbourhood to show her visiting grandma where everything is. Will show your kids the types of features that their own neighbourhood map needs to have.
Follow That Map: A First Book of Mapping Skills
By Scot Ritchie
A fun picture book that shows kids not only how to read a map to get from A to B, but how to recognise certain map features, no matter where they are in the world. With interactive activities.
By Aleksandra Mizielinska, Daniel Misielinska
This beautifully illustrated book features not only borders, cities, rivers, and peaks, but also places of historical and cultural interest, eminent personalities, iconic animals and plants, cultural events, and many more fascinating facts associated with every region of our planet. Has associated Activity and Poster books as well.
Atlas of Adventures
By Rachel Williams (Illustrator: Lucy Letherland)
Travel the world without leaving your armchair. Divided into seven sections, representing the continents, this is a busy, fact-filled introduction to maps and atlases.
Map Art Lab
Jill K. Berry, Linden McNeilly
This book features 52 map-related activities that are realised as weekly artistic exercise. Beginning with legends and lines, the projects move through different types and styles of maps before encouraging kids to create their own worlds.
Children’s novels featuring maps
By Robert Louis Stevenson
This classic adventure novel has a Treasure Map at its heart. Some of the language may feel old-fashioned to today’s reader, but swashbuckling never goes out of style, and Long John Silver is one of the best baddies ever!
The Phantom Tollbooth
By Norton Juster
Another classic tale of adventure. When Milo wakes up to find a tollbooth in his room, he also finds a letter that includes “[o]ne (1) map, up to date and carefully drawn by master cartographers, depicting natural and man-made features.” Milo’s extraordinary adventures take him to places such as the Land of Expectation, the Doldrums, the Mountains of Ignores and the Castle in the Air.
And, of course…
The Mapmaker Chronicles
By A.L. Tait
The fourth book in my epic adventure series about a race to map the world is out now! Beyond The Edge Of The Map picks up six months after Quinn’s return to Verdania, and sees him embark on a new leg of his exciting journey where the safest place for him to be is off the edge of the map!
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