Reading Map

We are keeping track of our read aloud books by geography. Follow along with us by checking out our interactive map! (Want to create or embed your own map? Read here for how-to directions!)

Read more about our books

North America

  • Everybody Cooks Rice by Norah Dooley. My favorite first day of school read focuses on the people and cultures in one small neighborhood, highlighting the commonalities in the rice-based meals being prepared.
  • One Green Apple by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Ted Lewin. Powerful story of a new girl's experience in her first days of school in her new country, America. Important lessons about acceptance and making others feel welcome. Read more in my summary for the Top 10 Picture Books to Read Aloud.
  • Mapping Penny's World by Loreen Leedy. Great book for introducing maps and basic geography concepts. Always have my student do the same assignment as the students in the book - creating their own map of a favorite place.
  • Owl Moon by Jane Yolen. Love, love, love this powerful Caldecott-winning picture book. We use it to talk about "small moment" stories and just listen in awe to Jane Yolen's gift for words and description.
  • Ralph Tells a Story by Abby Hanlon. This book is a great one for writing workshop, as it tells the relate-able story of Ralph, who simply cannot write a personal narrative, because nothing ever happens in his life.
  • My Name is Sangoel by Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammed. This book touches on many of our themes through the year, including community, world-wide connections, and the importance of honoring cultures. Sangoel and his family have moved to the US from Sudan, and he is having trouble getting people to say his name correctly. (We always follow this one up by making our own name rebuses.)
  • Ish by Peter Reynolds. Ramon learns the freedom in seeing his art as "ish" instead of perfect.
  • This is a Moose by Richard T. Morris and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. A great book about the power of being yourself - even if "yourself" is a moose who wants to be an astronaut ...
  • The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi. When Unhei moves to the US from Korea, she is frustrated by everyone's inability to pronounce her name and decides she wants an Americanized name instead. Her class cooperates by offering their suggestions in a name jar on her desk.
  • Seed by Seed: the legend and legacy of John "Appleseed" Chapman by Esme Raji Codell and illustrated by Lynne Rae Perkins. I always try to share this touching biography of Johnny Appleseed around his birthday of Sept. 26th. I love how the author draws out and focuses on five "life lessons" from his story and asks readers to apply them to their own lives. 
  • The Troublemaker by Lauren Castillo. I shared this book partially to draw connections between our study of Edward Tulane and partially to gauge student reaction. The kids loved the book and enjoyed keeping an eye on that sneaky raccoon.

Central and South America plus the Caribbean

  • Lost City: the discovery of Machu Picchu by Ted Lewin. This book tells the true story of Hiram Bingham's efforts to find the lost Inca city of Vilcapampa in 1911 but instead being introduced to Machu Picchu. 
  • Juan Bobo Goes to Work: a Puerto Rican folktale by Marison Montes and illustrated by Joe Cepeda (also available in Spanish, Juan Bobo Busca Trabajo). This story introduces children to Juan Bobo or Simple John, an endearing character from Puerto Rico for whom nothing seems to ever go right. Children will be delighted by Juan's antics, as each day's problems escalate in silliness.
  • Borreguita and the Coyote by Verna Aardema and illustrated by Petra Mathers. Based on a Mexican folktale poor Borreguita must find a way to outwit the wily coyote!


  • Seeds of Change by Jen Cullerton Johnson and illustrated by Sonia Lynn Sadler. This is now the fourth picture book biography of Wangari Maathai that I have read, and I think it might be my new favorite. I love the bright colors of the illustrations here and the emphasis on telling her life's story. (You can read more about the other biographies in the post Biographies about People and Trees.)
  • Happy Birthday, Jamela! by Niki Daly. I always check out a large collection of books by Niki Daly during our Africa unit, including both his wonderful folktales and his series of Jamela books. Jamela is a spunky character who makes creative but impulsive decisions, sometimes with disastrous consequences, but they always work out in the end. 
  • Talk, Talk: an Ashanti legend retold by Deborah M. Newton Chocolate. I use this story to talk about plot and story structure, as it has a very clear problem and several distinct events. Students love the growing confusion as more and more unlikely things start talking!
  • The Day of Ahmed's Secret by Florence Parry Heide and Judith Heidi Gilliland and illustrated by Ted Lewin. This book follows a day in the life of Ahmed as he makes his round delivering propane, but all the while he carries with him his secret that will only be revealed to his family that night ...


  • The Sandwich Swap by Queen Rania al Abdullah of Jordan. This book shares a conflict between two best friends who secretly dislike each other's "odd" sandwiches. Great lessons about understanding, diversity, and cooperation. 
  • Sitti's Secret by Naomi Shihab Nye. Mona goes around the world to visit her Sitti, grandmother in Palestine. A wonderful meditation on family and connectedness even when living far apart.
  • Silent Music: a story of Baghdad by James Rumford. Told from young Ali's perspective, students read about the US-led coalition's bombing of Baghdad in 2003, while also learning about the beauty and history of Arabic calligraphy.
  • Tales Told in Tents: stories from Central Asia retold by Sally Pomme Clayton. This is an incredible collection of folktales, stories, and riddles from the many cultures of Central Asia. Every year I share about the history of felt and the trickster Alder Kose.
  • Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammed and illustrated by Douglas Chatka. This touching story follows two Afghan refugee girls as they share a pair of sandals and become friends.


  • The Girl who Swam to Euskadi by Mark Kurlansky is a folktale about the Basque region of Spain (also known as Euskadi). In the bilingual story, a young girl swims from Massachusetts to Euskadi but when she returns the scholars do not believe that the place exists. 
  • Peppe the Lamplighter by Elisa Bartone and illustrated by Ted Lewin (Caldecott Honor book). Living in turn-of-the-century New York, Peppe finds himself needing to get a job to help his ailing father and his many, many sisters. 
  • Squash It! retold by Eric Kimmel and illustrated by Robert Rayevsky. This absurdist tale comes from a collection of folktales from Spain and features ... a louse. Now, a louse is not normally a welcomed guest, but in this case, when a louse has bitten the King of Spain, he must be treated with respect, for he now has royal blood. 
  • The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleishmann and illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline. This incredibly-illustrated picture book listens in as a grandfather tells his granddaughter the details of his life in Italy and subsequent immigration to the United States.
  • The Littlest Matryoshka by Corinne Demas Bliss and illustrated by Kathryn Brown. The story follows a family of matryoshka dolls on their immigration from Russia to a new home in the United States.

Around the World

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