How I Learned Geography

How I Learned Geography

by Uri Shulevitz

Hardcover(First Edition)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780374334994
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 04/01/2008
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 32
Sales rank: 201,018
Product dimensions: 10.30(w) x 10.27(h) x 0.40(d)
Lexile: AD660L (what's this?)
Age Range: 4 - 8 Years

About the Author

Uri Shulevitz is a Caldecott Medal-winning illustrator and author. He has written and illustrated many celebrated children's books, including the Caldecott Medal-winner The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship, written by Arthur Ransome. He has also earned three Caldecott Honors, for The Treasure, Snow, and How I Learned Geography.

Reading Group Guide

Author/illustrator Uri Shulevitz spent the early years of his life, from the age of four, wandering with his family, in search of a home. From war-torn Warsaw, Poland to the Central Asian city of
Turkestan in the Soviet Union to Paris, France to Tel Aviv, Israel, and finally to his permanent home in New York City.

Likewise, many of the characters in his books travel too. The Fool of the World sets off in search of a flying ship. The young boy in How I Learned Geography uses a map and his imagination to travel the world. Benjamin of Tudela journeys for fourteen years to the far reaches of the known world and back again to Spain. In The Treasure, Isaac travels great distances to the Royal Palace in search of a treasure that he finally finds under his own stove. And the young hero of When I Wore My
Sailor Suit sets off on an imaginary journey to distant lands as the captain of a sailing ship on both calm and storm tossed seas.

Opportunities abound for social studies curriculum connections as well as language arts (reading,
writing, and research) and visual art connections. Invite your students to join you on a journey of fun, learning, and imagination!


Mapping a Course

Two of Uri Shulevitz's books include maps that are essential to the understanding of the story. Begin by sharing classroom maps, including those found in atlases. After students have studied several maps, brainstorm the definition of a map (a "picture" or graphic representation of some or all of the earth's surface, including bodies of water, using lines, symbols, color, and labels, and drawn to scale as one might see them from above) and its purpose, guiding students in their understanding.

Read How I Learned Geography and The Travels of Benjamin of Tudela aloud to your students. Discuss the similarities and differences in the map Shulevitz paints in each book, recording responses on a Venn diagram. Be sure to notice the geographic area pictured in each book as well as the labels, colors, and symbols each map employs.

Ask students to notice the ways in which the maps are similar. Then ask students to discuss why the maps are different. What purpose do the maps serve in each story?

Extension Activity: Using a document camera, project the image of one of the maps from How I Learned Geography onto a white board. Then, challenge students, using atlases or flat maps as references, to label each country pictured on the map.

A Map Makes the Adventure

As the narrator of How I Learned Geography studies the map his father hangs on the wall, he becomes fascinated by the places represented there and is transported to many imagined places. Challenge students to attach each of these imagined places to at least one place on the map pictured in the book. Note that the final illustration spread will help students to locate some of these places on a map of Asia:

    Burning deserts Sandy beaches Snowy mountains with icy winds Wondrous temples with colorful birds on the roof Fruit groves with tropical fruits Fresh water streams flowing near palm trees Large city with tall buildings

LANGUAGE ARTS: Writing Literacy

What's in a Name?

The young narrator in How I Learned Geography falls in love with the exotic sounding names on the map his father brings home, and he makes a little rhyme out of them. Supply your students with a map or atlas of the area of the world, country, or state you are studying, and ask them to choose their favorite sounding place names from the list. Record these on the board or chart paper. Next,
challenge them to return to the map and find at least two pairs of names that rhyme, as Uri Shulevitz did. Then help them to create a four line place name rhyme in an aa-bb rhyming pattern. [Note: Introduce or revisit the concept of stressed and unstressed syllables that create the rhythm in poetry; revise your poem to ensure that it that scans properly.]

Sailing on the Wings of Imagination

In both How I Learned Geography and When I Wore My Sailor Suit Uri Shulevitz uses imagination as the vehicle of travel. Begin by reading both stories and asking students to discuss what the two books have in common. Once they have discovered that the main character/narrator in each book travels far away in his imagination, one by flying and one by sailing, invite students to answer these three questions:

    Where would you like to travel? How would you like to get there (walk, drive, fly, sail, etc.)? What would you see when you got there?

When each student has determined the answers to the three questions, invite them to write about and illustrate their imagined journey using either the listing technique Shulevitz uses in How I Learned Geography or the narrative format he uses in When I Wore My Sailor Suit. [Note: For the youngest students, ask them to draw the pictures and then help them to scribe their text at the bottom of the page.]

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How I Learned Geography 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
Auburn1 More than 1 year ago
Very authentic... A beautiful story told in a very fresh & simple way... No false pretense.
sassafras on LibraryThing 3 months ago
nice story, great pictures.
ebruno on LibraryThing 3 months ago
A boy and his family flee from war and destruction to a poverty struck country. His father comes home one night with a map instead of bread. At first, the young boy is furious with his father for not recieving any dinner, but as he studies the map, The boy is transported to places he has never even dreamed of seeing. I gave the book three stars because I thought it was boring and do not think young children would understand it on their own.
didaly on LibraryThing 3 months ago
The autobiographical sketch of Shulevitz¿s most influential childhood moments: fleeing the war, then hunger in exile, and finally, his first map and his resulting fantastic journey. Children may react with surprise to the ending, which offers only respite in fantasy, but when they realize the author grew up to write the book, the story has its happy ending. Also, the hunger of the boy and his family is depicted colorfully to keep it from alarming children too much, considering it does not end with food or abatement of hunger except in the author's having survived, and of course in the fruits of the imaginary world.
PatsyAdams on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Grades: 2-5Genre: memoirThemes: war, imagination, courageThe book is from the boy's perspective. They have to leave their home because war has taken away everything. They flee to a new land and live with strangers and do not have enough to eat. One day the father brings home a map instead of bread. Both mother and son are furious with him. As the days and months pass the boy studies the map and is transported to wonderous places in his mind. He soon realized what a great gift the map was and forgave his father.
fnborries on LibraryThing 3 months ago
This was a great book. It was about a little boy who lost everything during war. His family was broke and had nothing. One day the dad came home with a map instead of bread for the family to eat. The little boy became obsessed with the map and just buy studying it he could travel to far away places in his mind.
MesserPicks on LibraryThing 3 months ago
This is such a touching story. This story is about a a young boy who is forced to leave his home town because of war. He and his family move to a new town. They are very poor and have hardly any food to eat. The father goes to the bazaar to buy bread, but comes back with a huge colorful map instead, because he did not have enough money to buy bread for everyone. The boy is upset at first, because he is hungry. But, he starts to study the map more and more and it takes him to far away places. Absolutely fabulous story, especially with everything that is happening in the world right now. I feel that this story would touch many students!
klf67 on LibraryThing 3 months ago
My son loves the pictures, but I found I had to edit the story a lot, changing the words about war and fleeing home. Seems like one of those developmental mismatches -- the story is for somewhat older kids, but do those older kids read "simple" picture books like this when they are 8 or 9?
sharty on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Shulevitz tells us the story of his family's flight from the ravages of war in Poland to present-day Kazakhstan. With no belongings and no money, his father goes to the market to buy bread. Mother and Uri are furious when he returns with a map instead of food. As father hangs the bright map on the wall, however, Uri's feelings begin to change. Ultimately, the map allows him to escape the dire poverty of his life and to imagine bright, colorful, beautiful, interesting places around the world.
ffox on LibraryThing 3 months ago
I had a fascination with maps at a very young age and really appreciate this book and what it tells. The idea of a father providing the world instead of food is pretty powerful message and one that may connect with many students.
allawishus on LibraryThing 3 months ago
I liked the illustrations of this one; and the idea that knowledge and imagination will take you far and provide for you when you have nothing else is a powerful one.
dchaikin on LibraryThing 3 months ago
A father comes home late to his wife and son with a map, but no food. The family starves for a night. But overtime the map works wonders on the boy's imagination, providing an escape from a difficult life. This is a true story from the author's childhood, when his family were Polish refugees in present day Kazakhstan during WWII. At least one drawing is derived from a childhood drawing of Kazakh markeplace. I've very quickly fallen in love with this book. Wonderful illustrations, especially the "real-life" scenes of Kazakhstan (which are a bit different then the cover illustration). The storyline is simple and my 4-year-old can follow; although it doesn't affect her as much as it does me.
nbmars on LibraryThing 3 months ago
This lovely true story from the author¿s childhood is a slightly-modified Jewish Holocaust children's version of the Emily Dickinson poem:¿There is no frigate like a bookTo take us lands away,¿Nor any coursers like a page¿Of prancing poetry.¿This traverse may the poorest take¿Without oppress of toll;¿How frugal is the chariot¿That bears a human soul!¿Escaping from Warsaw in 1939, the author and his family fled to Kazakhstan in the Soviet Union. One day on a search for bread, his father came home instead with a map of the world. Angry at first, the little boy soon came to spend ¿enchanted hours far, far from our hunger and misery.¿The story can be understood either from the words or from the imaginative watercolor illustrations. A world of ideas is presented in this short book, which can be enjoyed by any age group, from preschoolers on up. Highly recommended!
LisaBohman on LibraryThing 3 months ago
This is a touching story about a boy and his family who live in poverty, but the boy escapes his hunger when his father brings home a map of the world. The boy travels to wonderful and exotic places. This story is based on the author's experiences during World War II and how he used his imagination to escape pain, misery, and hunger. The illustrations in the story are powerful, especially the red hues of war and destruction at the beginning of the story when the family is escaping the horror. I liked how the colors brightened significantly when the map entered the family's life. This is a wonderful book for students to understand hunger and poverty. If students are in this situation they can see how they can dream and use their imaginations to help lessen the pain. This is also a good reminder to all children (and adults) that our imaginations are powerful tools to help cope and bring happiness into our lives. This story is powerful and I highly recommend it.
JenRobYoung on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Child facing devastation and loss gets lost in a world of imagination through the exploration of a Map.
WilliamBarnes on LibraryThing 3 months ago
This is a story about Uri and his family during world war II. He and his family have to move far away and live in meager conditions when one day his father brings home a world map instead of dinner. Uri is at first upset about this most soon begins to stare at the map and imagine going all over the world and it helps him forget about the hard times they are going through. I used this book to start the children thinking about using a map and show them how a map can take you places even if its just in your head.
MaowangVater on LibraryThing 3 months ago
The author remembers when his family fled Poland in 1939 to escape the Second World War. They became refugees in Kazakhstan, where they were very poor and very hungry. One evening his father returned from the bazaar with a large map of the world instead of bread for supper. Although bitter because he went to bed hungry, when it was hung on the wall, young Uri became fascinated with its colors and exotic place names. He began to copy it on scraps of paper and then to imagine himself a world traveler. ¿And so I spent enchanted hours far, far from our hunger and misery. I forgave my father. He was right, after all.¿
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