Mapping a book (GIS with kids while home)

03-25-2020 03:45 PM
by Esri Regular Contributor
Esri Regular Contributor
1 0 1,136

There are some great books out there (for children and adults) about journeys, and as we read we follow the characters across a map. Some books show the map, some don't. When reading a book like that, I find myself picturing the map as part of the story and what I know of the places adds to the world the story is building for me.

One such children's book that I really like is The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman by Darcy Pattison and illustrated by Joe Cepeda. Oliver is a man (made out of wood) who goes on a journey across the US. It's not hard to draw a connection from that storyline to a map! The book even has a map showing where Oliver went on his journey, but it's not front, center, or even in the main pages of the book - it's at the end.

In the fall, our local library was having an event and Joe Cepeda was one of the guests. My daughter and I made a story map of the book. While the book itself tells the story through a series of letters, we took Oliver's point of view, and we brought the map into view more -- and made it interactive! Check out our story map: 

ArcGIS StoryMaps > "My Journey" by Oliver K. Woodman 

While you don't have to know the original book to enjoy the story map, there are a few ways you could get it now. It is an AR book, and Accelerated Reader has it as a read-aloud book on YouTube: The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman by Darcy Pattison journeys lesson 23 AR read aloud - YouTube. It is also available on Kindle, and some libraries might have digital copies available for you to borrow, too.

What next?

What book do you like that could be turned into a story map? It could be a fun project to do! 

Or if you want to play with maps and books, check out some activities we have for seeing maps about some popular American Lit books - GeoInquiries for American Literature | High School Inquiry-Based Activities 

About the Author
I want to bring GIS to every K-12 classroom and every child. A long-time Esri employee, I've previously worked on Esri's mobile apps, focused on documentation and best practices. Out of the office I'm a runner often found on the trails or chasing my children.