Story time is the best time of the day. Whether we're snuggled up on the couch or cozy in our pjs before bed, reading stories with my little ones is one of my favorite things to do. Everyone has a favorite book they remember from their childhood, and every day, parents and kids are discovering new classics of their own. There are many fabulous children's books out there, some of which everyone knows about and others we would have never discovered had my son not simply pulled a random book off a library shelf. I created this blog to share some of these wonderful stories with you. Think of it as a year's worth of the best children's books around, since no day should be without a great story. In the end, I hope we'll all have discovered at least a few new titles that will have made their way onto our list of family favorites. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Day 145: Barefoot Books World Atlas

I've been the happy owner of this glorious book for several months now, and I just can't wait to share it with you anymore.  Now, I'll be honest from the start and offering the following disclaimer:  I am a huge map nerd who loves learning facts about our incredible planet and its people, so I'm naturally going to be drawn to this kind of book.  You needn't be a geography teacher like me, however, to appreciate and love this book.  The Barefoot Books World Atlas is a visually stunning treasure trove of geographic facts, and I just can't get enough of it!  I originally ordered it thinking it would make a great gift for my son's 4th birthday, but once I started to read through it, I knew he was still a bit too young for this book.  He is definitely intrigued by the pictures and some of the fabulous information within, but if I had to place an age range on it, I think this book is better suited for children ages 7 and up.  This is not to say that younger children shouldn't be exposed to this book -- I'm sure many, like my son, will enjoy flipping through its pages and studying the incredible maps and pictures, not to mention lifting the "Did you know?" flaps -- but the amount of detailed content on each page will likely feel too overwhelming to younger children.  I  think this book belongs in every elementary school classroom, and I would definitely use this book in my middle school social studies classroom, as well.  Here are just a few of the things I absolutely love about it:

1. The illustrations are AMAZING.  Not only are David Dean's images bright, colorful, and vibrant, but they are full of information in and of themselves.  Some pages and maps even fold out for even more detailed viewing, and the combination of animals, transportation, and cultural icons featured on each picture is perfect for engaging curious young minds.

2.  The text is loaded with fun and interesting facts about our planet.  From climate and weather to land use and natural resources, this atlas gives an incredible overview of earth's continents, oceans, and regions, as well as the people and creatures who live there.  I love books that are educational and relevant in this way, and I can guarantee you that you'll learn something new when you read it.

3.  The world is broken up not just by continents but by regions within those continents to maximize learning.  For example, Southeast Asia, East Asia, North Asia, Central Asia, South Asia, and Southwest Asia all have their own pages and maps.  This might not seem that important, but I think it is incredibly helpful to show just how varied and unique different parts of continents can be.  It also allows for greater exploration of each place, which to me, makes it even more fun!

4.  It makes connections between people and places; culture and history; how where we live affects how we live.  It goes beyond teaching about the world and its people to show just how interconnected we all are.  Whether we realize it or not, people, wildlife, and the environment affect one another in a myriad of ways every day, and this book aims to inform readers about the importance of having such an understanding.  After all, that's what geography is really all about.  Isn't it wonderful?!

5.  It comes with a big, fold-out map!

You can obviously see how fabulous I think this World Atlas is, so I'll stop raving about it now and let you go out to try and find a copy for yourself.  Before I wrap up, though, I just have to add one more thing.  There is also a new app for the Barefoot Books World Atlas, and it might even be more awesome than the book itself.  It is hands down one of the coolest apps I've seen, and my son is completely obsessed with it. It features almanac-style facts about each country, but a wealth of other fascinating information, too.  My son mostly just wants to travel all around the world and learn about every animal he sees, so fortunately, there are all kinds of cool creatures featured.  We've learned some really cool things with him recently while playing with this app.  Did you know that orcas aren't actually whales but the largest species of dolphin?  Or that poison dart frogs are not poisonous in captivity, only in the wild?  We didn't either.  My husband and I have thoroughly enjoyed playing with this app, too.  If you have an iPad, you've simply got to check it out.  I know this is a book blog, but when a book this great is made into an equally fun and educational app, I just have to share about it, too. While I think the book is better suited for slightly older children, the app is great for preschoolers and adults, alike.  Happy learning!


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