Since the first time that I looked at a map as a child and asked my parents about various places on it, I have been intrigued by learning about far-off places. Over the years, I have had students that were similarly intrigued by places they see on the map. I’m sure that you have students similar to mine. The next time you have a student who is curious about a place, take a look at the following two resources to help them find fiction and non-fiction works set in those locations.
Novels on Location is a map of more than 500 fiction works. The idea behind Novels on Location is to help readers find novels according to the story’s geographical settings. When you visit Novels on Location you can find novels by clicking on the placemarks that you see or by using the location search bar in the upper, right corner of the site. If you want to contribute to Novels on Location you can do so very quickly by simply entering a location then entering the title and author of your favorite book set in that location.
mapFAST is a great use of Google Maps for finding texts about places all over the world. Visit mapFAST, type in a location and mapFAST will generate a list of texts about that location. You can specify how close you to the actual location you want your texts to be by setting a radius parameter. For example, when I entered “Portland, Maine” I set the radius at 30km so any texts about places within 30km of Portland would show up in my results. The book lists generated by mapFAST come from Google Books and WorldCat. Through Google Books you may be able to read and print some titles for free.
Applications for Education
You and your students could use Google Maps Engine Lite to create your own classroom versions of Novels on Location and mapFAST. Ask your students to write short short book reviews in the placemarks that they add to a shared Google Map. If you have students creating video book trailers, those videos could be added to their placemarks too. It could be a fun challenge for your class to try to collectively “read around the world” by locating stories set on each of the seven continents.