My Wonderful World is excited to announce the debut of a guest blogger series! In this program we provide a forum for those actively “doing” geography to weigh in on the issues and share their personal experiences. We are thrilled to have Marissa Giamo, author of Spin the Globe Adventures (you may remember the piece I wrote about her first book on Australia) as our inaugural guest blogger. In this first post, Marissa describes her work bringing geography to life through children’s stories. Enjoy!
Interested in contributing as a guest blogger? Please contact Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contrary to the many newspaper articles listing American
students at the bottom of the list for their knowledge of other countries, I
see clues everyday that kids are
interested in Geography.
A few years ago, I decided to combine work and passion by
writing children’s books about two subjects that I am very excited about:
Geography and travel to different countries. I thought that if kids had the
opportunity to hear about geography and international travel in a fun story,
they would see how fascinating Geography could be.
Taking matters into my own hands, I went to schools and read
the stories to them. I was feeling pretty confident until I was about to walk
into my first reading to forty pre-schoolers! What if the news shows were right
and kids hated this stuff? Were they
going to boo me out of the classroom and throw their snacks at me in protest?
The reaction I got was the one that I was hoping for. They were very interested and very curious.
They listened intently to the whole story and asked questions. They asked how
long it took to travel to different countries. They were interested in finding
out about differences in language and the animals. Not only did I not get
booed, but they actually asked me to stay longer to talk about Geography!
Every classroom that I have visited since has been the same
or better. The third graders I read to a couple of weeks ago had questions about what it
was like to visit Australia. (The book I read to them was about Australia.) They liked hearing about some of the nicknames that “Aussies” have for things
like “G’day” and “lollies” (candy). When I asked which country they would like
to visit, every student had their own answer and a reason why. Some of the boys wanted to visit Russia, one girl wanted to see the Taj Mahal in India, and another wanted to visit Egypt to see
Even outside of the classroom I hear kids asking their
parents curious questions. Mommy, what
language is that man speaking? Or, What country do tigers live in?
The list goes on and on.
So, yes, it is possible. American kids are interested. From
my experience, I find students are just looking for opportunities to discuss other
countries and their people. They are curious about the world. They are curious about Geography!