Geography Books for a 9 Year Old
January 14, 2014 5:23 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for geography books for my 9 year old son. He's into looking at maps, especially historical maps of countries that no longer exist or ancient civilizations (although that's not a requirement). History and cultural information is good too.

He has an atlas and a globe already. The book doesn't necessarily have to be aimed at kids.

Any suggestions for books would be most appreciated.
posted by ShooBoo to Society & Culture (12 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I have and really like The Agile Rabbit Book of Historical & Curious Maps. It comes with a CD that has high-res images of the maps.
posted by neushoorn at 5:37 AM on January 14, 2014

Cartographia is a beautiful book that I would have loved at that age. It might require a dictionary or you might read it with him.
posted by mareli at 5:38 AM on January 14, 2014

The Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World was just released as an app, making it much more affordable and substantially lighter. National Geographic maps, the kind that came folded up in the middle of special issues, were a huge hit at that age- biomes, star guides, modern countries. The Met Museum has fantastic online educator resources, including timelines and in-depth subject PDFs with maps if there's a topic he really loves. NYU recently put on an exhibit on ancient maps that just closed, but he might like the website. The Tabula Peutingeriana might be a bit much, but the interactive version on line might be of interest to a young cartographer!
posted by jetlagaddict at 6:15 AM on January 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Slightly different, but what about transit maps? There are all sorts of books of subway maps from around the world, laid on top of the city maps.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 6:41 AM on January 14, 2014

Transit Maps of the World
posted by mattbucher at 8:03 AM on January 14, 2014

What about a National Geographic subscription?

They also have a kids' magazine, which I read and loved back in the day, though a google search reveals that for some reason the kids' edition is mostly about animals, which makes no sense for a geographic magazine. But the grownup edition is still apparently about geography and often includes really great maps as well as articles about things like Ancient Egypt, Pompeii, the Minoans, the Inca, etc.

He also seems perfect for all those David Macaulay books like Cathedral, City, Underground, etc.
posted by Sara C. at 9:18 AM on January 14, 2014

I just saw this children's book called Maps at my local bookstore, and was trying to figure out who I could buy it for!

It has these gorgeous hand-drawn maps with little icons full of cultural history. It might be too young for a 9 year old though.

Other cool cartographic books:

Cartographia: Mapping Civilizations

Strange Maps: An Atlas of Cartographic Curiosities

The Map as Art: Contemporary Artists Explore Cartography

The New Penguin Atlas of Medieval History

The New Penguin Atlas of Ancient History

Sea Monsters on Medieval and Renaissance Maps

The Maps of Tolkien's Middle-earth

Around the World: The Atlas for Today

Sea Monsters: A Voyage around the World

Historical Atlas of the American West: With Original Maps

The Historical Atlas of New York City: A Visual Celebration of 400 Years of New York City

For some reason, I really want to recommend this book: The Where, the Why, and the How: 75 Artists Illustrate Wondrous Mysteries of Science. It isn't only about maps, but it pairs scientists with artists to describe concepts such as "What Is Dark Energy?" and "Why do we blush?" and "Why do whales sing?" etc. The explanations are written in such a way that a smart and curious 9 year old could parse some of it, and be interested to talk over the details. I LOVE this book and it's one of my go-to gift books and has been uniformly well received.

Cartographies of Time: A History of the Timeline is about time rather than space, but it's fascinating!

I'd also get a few historical atlases and let him look over the differences.
posted by barnone at 9:25 AM on January 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

When I was age, I was the same way. My Grandmother gave me a box of perhaps a hundred National Geographic folding maps. I was in heaven. I have had books and other maps, but none inspired me like that box.

Lately I look at the occasional book, but keep going to Google Earth and marvel at the 3d modeling in the MUCH improved Apple Maps.

Seconding the book Cartographia. A little advanced, but it may challenge him - in a good way...
Also consider Mapping the World: An Illustrated History of Cartography
posted by Leenie at 9:27 AM on January 14, 2014

One more thing, while in middle school we went to the local college for a day. I remember everything that I saw in the Cartography Dept. Watching the students make, actually make, maps was fascinating. I would still love to have that job. Perhaps there is a local school the two of you could visit?
posted by Leenie at 10:06 AM on January 14, 2014

We recently stopped our Nat Geo sub because not so much of the exploration and geography, and way too much other stuff: science Lite articles about sugar? No thanks.

Many years ago I bought an old atlas and gazetteer, and something like that might suit you, too. It was outdated old, not antique old and had a lot of historical info about all the crazy obscure places it covered.
posted by Kaleidoscope at 2:53 PM on January 14, 2014

Just saw this: The Oxford Map Companion: One Hundred Sources in World History including "stick charts, porcelain maps...celestial maps, powder-horn and buckskin maps, silk "escape maps," and actually I really want this book too now!
posted by jetlagaddict at 3:28 PM on January 14, 2014

Hi! I was away from work at a workshop for the last two days so I couldn't offer up any suggestions immediately, but we do have some out-of-copyright historical atlases offered up for download (multiple formats are accessible from the download link within the item record, and there should be PDFs in there for anything initially published as a book). Here's a link to all of our digitized out-of-copyright holdings (warning, may take a while to load). There are some older titles in there (e.g. the Bartholomew atlases) that are really interesting to look at with a critical eye 100 years later (warning: racism). I'm going to take a look through our atlas stacks today to see if I can suggest anything else and possibly post back later.

I suggest taking him for a visit to your local map library! There's a map department upstairs in the Seattle Central Library (one of the very few things I was able to check out in my 36 hours in the city). The University of Washington also has one, but I'm not sure if it's public-access.

For the record, this was my favourite atlas as a kid.
posted by avocet at 6:30 AM on January 15, 2014

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