Holling Clancy Holling

Paddle-to-the-Sea is a one-of-a-kind story about a little carving of an Indian in a canoe that is sent off from North of Lake Superior in Canada for a four-year trek through each of the Great Lakes, through the St. Laurence River and finally into the Atlantic Ocean.

Close to the Wind

Peter Malone

Sometimes your casual pick-up-what-looks-good from the library hits jackpot--last week it was one of those instances for us. Close to the Wind by Peter Malone gets very close to being the picture book par excellence. In every aspect, this gem brings the very best of the world of picture books: beautiful, detail-rich illustrations, a captivating story, plenty of educational content, and great use of visual diagrams, side notes and explanatory illustrations.

La Boda: A Mexican Wedding Celebration

Nancy Van Laan
Andrea Arroyo

I love picture books, especially ones with warm, colorful, sweet illustrations. I love rhythmic, poetic language, made simple and accessible to children, and I love truly multicultural books!

This book brings all of these elements together, added to the universal theme of the sacrament of Matrimony. I couldn't help but love it at first sight--or at first reading.


Geography is a subject that "leaks into" almost every other subject. Every family should have a world map and/or a globe and refer to it frequently. Every time you read a story, learn about a new Saint, etc., have your children find where these people lived or these events took place. Similar to memorizing history dates, being familiar with where things happened helps to understand any given lesson much more fully.

The Librarian Who Measured the Earth

Book cover: 'The Librarian Who Measured the Earth'
Kathryn Lasky

This is a fascinating story, told for children and fully illustrated (beautiful full color pictures with interesting and at times humorous details) of the Greek Scientists, Mathematician and Astronomer - Eratosthenes. (Don't worry - the author does help you to pronounce the name). Eratosthenes was born in the 3rd century B.C. in the country we now call Libya to Greek parents. There he was educated in the classical Greel tradition and developed a keen interest in the world around him. As a young man he was sent to Athens to study where he became known as a scholar and historian.

Trans Europa

Book cover: 'Trans Europa: A Tactical Track-building Game'

Our family enjoys Geography very much (especially my 10 year old son) and so new Geography games are always a welcome addition to our curriculum and/or learning environment.

Trans Europa has a European map gameboard on which you connect major cities (chosen from the card deck) with "train tracks." It can be played on a simple level by younger children (the recommendation is 8 and up) but can involve rather complex strategies as well.

The Scrambled States of America

Book cover: 'The Scrambled States of America: The Whimsical, Mad-Dashing, Geography Game'

The Scrambled States of America is based on a book of the same name by Laurie Keller. It involves making geography fun for young children through a story in which the states get mixed up and need to be put back in order. You don't need to know the story to enjoy the game, however.

Map Puzzles

Book cover: 'Map Puzzles'

We found an old wooden U.S. map puzzle at a garage sale but they're also readily available at Teacher Supply stores and even warehouse stores. I prefer ones that have each state as one puzzle piece, but usually they'll at least group Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut together. When my son was 2 1/2 he really enjoyed playing with it, so we left it out on the coffee table. He'll bring me a few pieces at a time and ask me the name.

The Global Puzzle

Book cover: 'The Global Puzzle'

This inexpensive (approximately $15) jigsaw puzzle provides an easy and fun way to learn World Geography. Pieces are cut along country borders (although larger countries are split into pieces). Colors are simple and continents, oceans, countries and capitals are clearly marked. A few of the smaller countries are joined together in one piece. Canada is broken up into pieces cut along the province borders. The United States is broken up into pieces composed of one or two states each.


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