World Geography Living Literature
Yes, I’ve told you many times before how much we love literature around here. While I do teach geography through maps, quizzes, and games, the best way to make a real connection to the maps and their culture is through really good books. Enjoy this giant list of world geography living literature with your elementary children.
This post contains affiliate links.
Geography Living Literature Matters
A good living picture book for geography places you in a time or culture to feel almost as if you are part of the story. It uses rich language, interesting characters, and beautiful illustrations to help you understand the place, people, and culture within the context of a storyline.
For that reason, you’ll only find a handful of books that purposely teach facts about geography. That’s okay, as long as you’re pointing out the places on a map or making some other map connections, your children will absorb the culture and more than just a knowledge of where in the world a place is on the map.
World Geography Living Literature
While there’s no way for me to list each and every piece of world geography living literature we’ve ever enjoyed, I have listed many, many of our favorites below.
Enjoy elementary world geography with these fantastic picture book selections. They are warm stories with rich language that will give your children a beautiful picture of places and cultures around the world.
Africa Picture Books
Beatrice’s Goat by Page McBrier
Bintou’s Braids by Sylvianne Diouf
The Best Bee Keeper of Lalibela by Cristina Kessler
The Butter Man by Elizabeth Alalou & Ali Alalou
Day of Ahmed’s Secret by Florence Parry Heide
Fire on the Mountain by Jane Kurtz
For You Are a Kenyan Child by Kelly Kunnane
Galimoto by Karen Lynn Williams
Gugu’s House by Catherine Stock
Handa’s Hen by Eileen Browne
Honey…Honey…Lion! by Jan Brett
Jambo Means Hello by Muriel Feelings
The Magic Gourd by Baba Wague Diakite
Mama Panya’s Pancakes by Mary Chamberlin
Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe
My Father’s Shop by Satomi Ichikawa
My Rows and Piles of Coins by Tololwa M. Mollel
Once Upon a Time by Nick Daly
Planting the Trees of Kenya by Claire Nivola
Seeds of Change: Planting a Path to Peace by Jen Cullerton Johnson
Sense Pass King by Katrin Tchana
Sosu’s Call by Meshack Asare
Trouble by Jane Kurtz
We All Went On Safari by Laurie Krebs
When Africa Was Home by Floyd Cooper
Young Lions by Toshi Yoshida
Antarctica Picture Books
The Emperor’s Egg by Martin Jenkins
Trapped by the Ice by Michael McCurdy
Asia Picture Books
Another Celebrated Dancing Bear by Gladys Scheffrin-Falk
Babushka’s Doll by Patricia Polacco
The Empty Pot by Demi
The Firekeeper’s Son by Linda Sue Park and Julie Downing
Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Williams
The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship by Arthur Ransome
The Funny Little Woman by Arlene Mosel
Grandfather Tang’s Story by Ann Tompert
Hackiko by Pamela Turner
Liang and the Magic Paintbrush by Demi
Lon Po Po by Ed Young
The Lotus Seed by Sherry Garland
Monsoon by Uma Krishnaswami
Mrs. Frizzle’s Adventures: Ancient Egypt by Joanna Cole
One Grain of Rice by Demi
A Pair of Red Clogs by Masako Matsuno
Red Butterfly by Deborah Noyes
Rechenka’s Eggs by Patricia Polacco
Ruby’s Wish by Shirim Yim and Sophie Blackhall
Sanji’s Seed by B.J. Reinhard
Seven Chinese Brothers by Margaret Mahy
Sitti’s Secrets by Naomi Nye
Sparrow Girl by Sara Pennypacker
The Story About Ping by Marjorie Flack and Kurt Wiese
The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks by Katherine Paterson
Taro and the Tofu by Masako Matsuno
Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel
Tree of Cranes by Allen Say
Two of Everything by Lily Toy Hong
Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein
Australia Picture Books
Are We There Yet? A Journey Around Australia by Alison Lester
Bobbie Dazzler by Margaret Wild
The Bunyip of Berkeley’s Creek by Jerry Wagner
Diary of a Wombat by Jackie French
Edward the Emu by Mem Fox
Hattie and the Fox by Mem Fox
Hunwick’s Egg by Mem Fox
John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat by Jenny Wagner
Katy No-Pocket by Emmy Payne
Koala Lou by Mem Fox
Mulga Bill’s Bicycle by A. B. Paterson
My Place by Nadia Wheatley and Donna Rawlins
Possum Magic by Mem Fox
The Pumpkin Runner by Marsha Arnold
The Water Hole by Graeme Base
Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox
Wombat Stew by Marcia Vaughan and Pamela Lofts
Europe Picture Books
Adele and Simon by Barbara McClintock
Angelo by David Macaulay
The Baker’s Dozen by Aaron Shepard
Boxes for Katje by Candace Fleming
The Boy Who Held Back the Sea by Lenny Hort
The Cat Who Walked Across France by Kate Banks
Children of the Northlights by Ingri and Edgar d’Aulaire
Days of the Blackbird by Tommie dePaola
Gabriella’s Song by Candace Fleming
The Giraffe the Walked to Paris by Nancy Milton
The Glorious Flight by Alice and Martin Provensen
The Greatest Skating Race by Louise Borden and Nick Daly
Hanna’s Cold Winter by Trish Marx
The Irish Cinderlad by Shirley Climo
Katie and the Spanish Princess by James Mayhew
Katie in London by James Mayhew
Katie in Scotland by James Mayhew
Leonardo, Beautiful Dreamer by Robert Byrd
The Leprechaun’s Gold by Pamela Edwards
Linnea in Monet’s Garden by Cristina Bjork
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmens
Madeline and the Cats of Rome by Ludwig Bemelmens
Madeline in London by Ludwig Bemelmens
Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully
Papa Piccolo by Carol Talley
Paris in the Spring with Picasso by Joan Yolleck and Marjorie Priceman
Pastry School in Paris: An Adventure in Capacity by Cindy Neuschwander
Peppe the Lamplighter by Elisa Bartone
Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
Starry Messenger by Peter Sis
Tony’s Bread by Tomie dePaola
Central and South America (Includes Mexico)
Abuela’s Weave by Omar Castaneda
Borreguita and the Coyote by Verna Aardena
Cactus Soup by Eric Kimmel
Carolina’s Gift: A Story of Peru by Katacha Diaz
Corn is Maize by Aliki
Dancing Turtle by Pleasant Desplain
Gauchada by Drew Lamm
The Goat in the Chile Patch by Sheron Long
The Great Kapok Tree by Lynn Cherry
Hill of Fire by Thomas Lewis
Jaguar by Helen Cowcher
The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tommie d’Paola
The Little Red Ant and the Great Big Crumb by Shirley Climo
My Little Island by Frane Lessac
The Magic Bean Tree: A Legend from Argentina by Nancy Van Laan
My Name is Gabriela by Monica BrownOn the Pampas by Maria Brusca
Nature’s Green Umbrella by Gail Gibbons
A Pen Pal for Max by Gloria Rand
The Pied Piper of Peru by Ann Trompert
The Secret Footprints by Julia Alvarez
The Streets are Free by Kurusa
To Go Singing Through the World by Deborah Ray
Tonight is Carnaval by Arthur Dorros
Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto
The Tortilla Factory by Gary Paulsen
The Umbrella by Jan Brett
Waiting for the Biblioburro by Monica Brown
You can find an entire post about living literature across the USA here. The books I’ve included here are either general North American geography or touch on some very unique cultures.
Alejandro’s Gift by Richard Albert
The Armadillo from Amarillo by Lynn Cherry
As the Crow Flies by Gail Hartman
Me On the Map by Joan Sweeney
How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman
How to Make a Cherry Pie and See the U.S.A. by Marjorie Priceman
Mapping Penny’s World by Loreen Leedy
Maps and Globes by Jack Knowlton
Minn of the Mississippi by Holling C. Holling
My America: A Poetry Atlas of the United States by Lee Bennett Hopkins
Paddle-to-the-Sea by Holling C. Holling
Pagoo by Holling C. Holling
Seabird by Holling C. Holling
Tree in the Trail by Holling C. Holling
Tulip Sees America by Cynthia Rylant
Very First Last Time by Jan Andrews
Where the River Begins by Thomas Locker
World Geography Unit Studies
Looking for world geography mini-units and lesson ideas? My early elementary son and I have been all over the world this year! You can see what else we added to our continent and culture studies besides geography living literature. It’s been so much fun!
More Living Literature Lists
Looking for living literature for other subjects? Over the years, I have gathered lists and lists of good books for you to use with all sorts of topics. You will be amazed at how many great books there are out there to teach almost any subject!
Other Great Geography Ideas
Geography doesn’t have to be difficult or boring! We’ve had tons of fun learning through literature, games, hands-on projects, and research-based projects. Click any of the images below for other fun ideas.
Thankyou for this long list. I’m just starting to switch to living books from text books and this will be so helpful.
That is a great list. I wonder how many I can get from the library in the next couple of weeks.
Thank you for this!
The books remind me when I was a librarian teacher. I wish i could read them to my kids. What a great bless it would be. Thank you for sharing.
Great list! Thank so much for making it available. Some other possibilities: The Big Wave (Progeny Press study guide also available), A Single Shard, The Master Puppeteer, The Endless Steppe. For Europe: I, Juan de Pareja (Spain), Gaudenzia Pride of the Palio (Italy). The Pacific: Island of the Blue Dolphins. These would all be for upper elementary or older.
What a great idea ti connect geography with literature! I’m pinning this.
I just wanted to take a minute to let you know how much we have appreciated this list of books! My husband and I have enjoyed these books just as much as our children (ages 4-8). Thank you so much for putting such a thoughtful and thorough list together. Truly wonderful books!!
Thank YOU for making my day! 🙂
Thanks for a terrific list! I’m recommending the list, and I’m linking these books to our art lessons.
Awesome, John! Thanks!!
This is wonderful! I’m definitely going to share with my friends at TheUnpluggedFamily.com!
Thank you, Cassandra! We had so much fun with these books.
Love the list! Thank you for taking the time to share. I noticed it said, “Picture Book Edition” – does that mean there is an edition for older students?
I hope I can find time to do the chapter book edition! I’ll put that on my goal list for this school year. 🙂
I just now found this. So great. We are planning a trip to Europe and we will focus on those books for now. Thanks for your hard work in putting this together.
This list is amazing! The timing of finding this is perfect! We are getting ready to study David Livingstone next and Africa with it! Now I have a huge list of books to go with our study 🙂 Thank you!
We love David Livingstone’s story! I know you’ll have so much fun learning all about Africa, too!
What a wonderful list! Pinned.
The Australian books mentioned here are good. If you can get audio versions it’s great to hear the real accent. Are we there yet? Comes with audio and I highly recommend. Any Alison Lester books are GREAT.
My kids prefer Aussie literature over anything else and I read with the old school real Aussie accent including colloquialisms when appropriate which even they don’t understand at times.
I love the idea of hearing them read with a real Aussie accent! I just looked and see that there are tons of Alison Lester books – so many of them I’ve never read. I guess I need to do that soon. Thanks for the comment! 🙂
I am in the middle of using this list with my 7, 5, and 3 year olds. Excellent books! Very fun for them as they learn their continents and basic geography and so much more! Thank you for this list and for sharing your homeschool experience on your blog!
Amy, I’m so glad the books are a blessing to your homeschool! We has so much fun reading through this list, too.
This list is simply delightful. Our family is using it to ‘tour the world’ this year. Do you have any similar suggestions for India and the Middle East?
Delighted to see my book Gauchada on your list! One lovely thing you can do around it is to have readers create something, perhaps a special necklace, to gift another. The book is about a necklace crafted by a gaucho that is passed from hand to hand to hand, but it could be anything. The idea is to create something that can’t be bought or sold but only given, an unexpected gift/act of love.
Love that idea, Drew! Thanks for sharing it here. 🙂
You’re welcome, it was indeed my pleasure. Always a ZING to see one’s books still making their way in the world. Thanks for noticing.
I’ve recommended your Smithsonian science books plenty of times, too! I’m always happy to promote great authors. 🙂
Love this list!!! Do you happen to have a chapter book list?!?!?
I don’t yet, Jenny. But I’ll try to work on one soon! 🙂
One more book to add to your North America list is Carson Crosses Canada.