Much of the geographical knowledge that adults take for granted can be confusing to young children. Inspired by his grandson Max, Joseph Finch looks to clarify zip codes, counties, states, and countries, eventually expanding the statement “You Are Here” all the way to the galaxy level, in his well-conceived book Alabama Is That In Texas?
Finch explains his grandson’s confusion over states, cities, and counties before launching into the hierarchy of geographical designations. Beginning with a charming look at Max’s house, Finch heads the page “Max’s Room Is In A House.” The page shows photographs of Max’s room and the various other rooms in Max’s house, giving children a strong sense of both place and placement.
Finch uses the succeeding page to identify the house on its street, and shows surrounding homes on the street. He then breaks down the city of Arlington, Texas, into its composite zip codes, explaining that “The post office invented ZIP codes to help sort mail and get it to us quicker.”
As Finch proceeds on to counties, countries, continents, planets, etc. each of these gets similar treatment: five colorful photos, plus commentary from Max. At times, the book’s design has the overly structured appearance of a PowerPoint slideshow, but the consistency of the graphic layout will help children keep track of the current topic and its place in the geographical hierarchy.
The book’s second half is a craft section with “nested boxes” that can be cut out and pasted together, each representing one piece of the hierarchy. Hands-on learners can then stack or arrange the various parts in order; some children might even want to substitute photos of their own house, street, zip code, etc.
Alabama Is That In Texas? fills an essential need in a child’s education. Better yet, it makes this journey from home to galaxy—and everything in between— fun at the same time.
Also available as an ebook.