Guest Hollow’s Jr. Geography and Cultures Curriculum Book and Resource List

Welcome to the Guest Hollow’s Jr. Geography and Cultures Curriculum Book and Resource List! This list is to give you an idea of what will be needed if you are using Guest Hollow’s Jr. Geography Curriculum along with some helpful tips and other information. For details about the curriculum itself, please click here.
Thank You,
The Guest Family
© Guest Hollow, LLC

Literature-based geography that’s engaging and fun!

In order to use Guest Hollow’s Jr. Geography and Cultures Curriculum, you will need to obtain the scheduled books and other items separately. You may be able to borrow many for FREE from your local library! Check out the F.A.Q. below for tips on how to save money when using a literature-based curriculum.

Every purchase comes with a printable book list!

Every purchase of Guest Hollow’s Jr. Geography Curriculum comes with a FREE printable book list to help you with your planning and shopping.

The printable version of the book list features:

  • The ISBN number and author’s name
    You can make sure your copy of the book matches the one in the schedule.
  • Notification of when each book or item is used
    You can plan ahead when to check out books from the library. Books used throughout the year are marked “multiple weeks,” so you can decide whether you want to purchase them vs. borrow them.
  • Checklists for planning
    A handy checklist helps you plan if you are going to buy or borrow a book. It can also help you choose the format of your books (physical copy, e-book, or audio book).
  • Consumables are marked
    You’ll get advance notice of which items are consumable, so you’ll know what you may need to purchase and how many copies you may want to get if you are using the curriculum with multiple students.

Here’s an example of the printable book list:

Keep scrolling to see the full online book list (below the F.A.Q. on this page).

We’ve scheduled in lots of colorful, fact-filled, interesting and engaging books for this year’s geography study! Before taking a look at the books and resources, we’ve addressed some common questions:

Book and Resource F.A.Q.

No. Although it’s intended for you to use all (or most) of the scheduled books in the Jr. Geography and Cultures Curriculum, you can use substitutes from your own home or local library. For example: There is a scheduled book about Canada. If you can’t obtain that book, you can use a different book about Canada. Keep in mind that the scheduled books were all hand-picked for their content and presentation.

Make the schedule work for YOU!

We were once homeschoolers, and we know what it’s like living on a budget. We wrote a blog post to help you SAVE MONEY when using a literature-based curriculum. In the post you’ll find handy tips on where to get books, what subscriptions can help out, what some libraries offer for free, where our customers go for used books, and how to find books our customers are selling when they are done. Take a look:

How to Save Money When Using a Literature-Based Curriculum

Our customers frequently resell their used Guest Hollow homeschool curriculum books on our Facebook Groups. Here’s a list of groups you can join and post in! We encourage you to try and recoup some of your investment in books when you are done by posting them for sale in our groups.

You may NOT resell, share, or distribute any of Guest Hollow’s digital products (or printed out copies of our digital products) which includes but is not limited to schedules, workbooks, printables, and other materials.

Every student’s reading ability and interest differs. If you have a reluctant reader or a student whose reading skills are not fully developed, you can do some of the following things:

  • Read books out loud
    You can read some or all of the books to or with your student. This is a terrific way to participate in what s/he is learning, too! Our children loved read-alouds.
  • Use audiobooks
    Audiobooks can be obtained from or a variety of other places. There are some benefits to using audiobooks. They can be listened to in the car, during lunch, while doing chores, while keeping hands occupied (knitting, coloring, etc.), and other times when print books don’t work as well.
  • Don’t overwhelm
    It may not be the best choice to do more than one literature-based program at a time with a student who doesn’t like reading. Don’t be surprised if this reluctant attitude toward reading changes during the course of the program, though. Many of our customers have told us their reluctant readers learned to love reading using our curriculum!

Warning! Preview all materials! I strongly recommend you preview all items to see if they are appropriate for your student. Every family is different in what they find offensive! Additional notes about some of the books are in the descriptions below.

Note: In the following book descriptions, you may see references to Hoopla, Everand, and the Open Library.
Hoopla is a subscription service provided by some libraries. Check your library to see if you have access.
Everand is a subscription eBook service. They usually have a 30 day free trial you may want to look for.
The Open Library is an internet library service available to everyone.
Get more information about these in our blog post here.

Scroll down past the videos to see the optional books for younger tag-alongs.
Want to add in a Christian component to your country studies? Scroll down to the unscheduled book section.

Geography puzzleOptional: GeoPuzzle World

This is not scheduled in but would be a nice addition to your studies. We had the entire set of these puzzles and our son played with them when I read out loud. He learned the location of almost every country of the world this way. The cool thing about this set of puzzles is that most of the shape of each country (or state if you get the U.S. puzzle) are the actual puzzles pieces themselves! These are high-quality puzzles!

Additional puzzles:
Don’t feel like you have to get any of these. I’m just listing them because we had them, and they were a really great addition to our year of learning geography.

GeoPuzzle U.S.A. and Canada
GeoPuzzle Asia
GeoPuzzle Europe
GeoPuzzle Latin America
GeoPuzzle Africa and the Middle East

If you want all 6 puzzles, it’s less expensive to buy this:
Set of 6 Geopuzzles in One Box
Inflatable globe
Scratch off map
Optional: Inflatable globe and world map

If you don’t already have a globe, we recommend getting one. This will allow students to see the accurate size of countries (vs. a flat map). Any globe will suffice!

If you are using your own globe, make sure it’s an updated version and shows South Sudan on it. (South Sudan gained its independence in 2011.)

You may also want to put up a world map in your homeschool area. Get one that shows political boundaries. A free printable world map is linked to in the schedule. Several of our customers have purchased a scratch off world map which looks like fun!

If you are on a budget, we recommend you just get the Where on Earth? Atlas (linked farther below) and use Google Earth on the computer, instead.
Printable Pretend PassportPrintable Pretend Passport

This 3-page printable is designed to look like a real U.S. passport with similar graphics and layout. Just print everything out, fold each item in half, and staple it together to make a passport booklet. The inside has room to write information like a real passport such as your surname, given name, nationality, date of birth and so on. There is also room for a 2×2 inch real picture that can be pasted in. The template also includes blank pages so you can print out in unlimited quantities and fill up with country stamps, stickers, writing, illustrations, etc.

The stickers linked below would work perfectly with this passport!
Paper mache globeMake a Papier-Mâché Globe

Teach your students about the continents, geography, and oceans with this fun paper mache model of the earth!
World flag stickersOptional: Flag and country stickers and/or travel stickers

You have the option of printing out a HUGE free hallway sized map that your students can mark up over the year. You can purchase some flag and country stickers for this map and add them to it as you study each area.

Another option is to use these stickers with the passport linked above.

Scratch & Sketch Travel
Note: This book mentions “millions of years” on the page about the Galapagos Islands.
Optional: Scratch & Sketch Travel
This is an optional resource, but it’s scheduled in for those who want to use it.

Learn fun travel facts and get creative as you discover and draw some of the world’s coolest destinations!
Use the wooden stylus included to scratch away the black coating and draw everything from the Great Pyramid to the Statue of Liberty.
See rainbow swirls and glittery colors appear from beneath the black coating like magic!
This is a Trace-Along title! Young artists can simply follow the white lines with the stylus to create colorful pictures.
Book comes with wooden stylus for scratching away the black coating.
Scholastic TeachablesScholastic Teachables

This is an optional subscription (check out the 30-day free trial!). You may also want to check your library as some libraries have a subscription to this resource for their patrons (ours does)!

We’ve found some terrific printables from Scholastic for the various topics studied this year. There are some interactive booklets and other items that would be a great addition to your student’s geography notebook or homemade lapbook as well as a variety of outline maps!

If you decide to subscribe, you can stretch your dollar and search for other printables to use with other homeschool subjects.

Note: This info may be helpful to obtain a subscription if you run into any issues: “Homeschools will need to register with us to be able to order through the Teachers Store. That website is set up for orders from Teachers at schools in our system. To set up their homeschools in our system they may call 1-800-497-8291 to speak to our customer maintenance dept. that can verify their information. The dept. is open 7-3 Central time.
Complete Book of Maps and Geography Workbook, Global Geography for Kids Grades 3-6, United States Geography and Regions, Map Skills, Time Zones, Oceans
Geography, consumable workbook
Complete Book of Maps and Geography Workbook, Global Geography for Kids Grades 3-6, United States Geography and Regions, Map Skills, Time Zones, Oceans

This book is available on Everand

We used this workbook in our homeschool and thought it was beneficial to teach a variety of map skills.
Where on Earth? Atlas: The World As You've Never Seen It Before
Atlas, geography
Where on Earth? Atlas: The World As You’ve Never Seen It Before

I love the artwork and the highly detailed, beautiful mix of maps in this book!

“Unlike any other you have ever seen before, this atlas brings our amazing world to life in 3-D. With its more than 60 specially commissioned 3-D maps and artworks, it takes kids on a continent-by-continent tour of the world.
Each continent is explored in great detail, with topic maps on major geographical features, cities and monuments, population, wildlife, and more. From the Great Lakes to the Great Barrier Reef, map keys add extra layers of information, and special fact sections support the data provided on the maps.”
Wildlife of the World
Animals of the world, reference, non-fiction
Wildlife of the World

This is an optional reference book.

This is a beautifully photographed coffee table style book. Students will browse through it to learn about animals while studying different regions around the world. Do NOT expect your students to read every word. They can just look at the lovely pictures and read what captures their interest.

Wildlife of the World takes you on a journey through some of the most scenic and rich animal habitats — from the Amazon rain forests to the Himalayas, the Sahara to the South Pole — meeting the most important animals in each ecosystem along the way.”

Oceans, science, ocean animals

Note: This book mentions “millions of years” (p. 6, 14-15, and 26) Young-earth creationists will want to be on hand to discuss your beliefs vs. what the book says in those sections.
Earth’s Incredible Oceans (The Magic and Mystery of Nature)

Enter the world of oceans and discover all the interesting animals that live in them!

Swim with jellyfish, wonder at the busy life of a seagrass meadow, and fence with narwhals in this lovingly illustrated children’s book. Take kids on a fascinating underwater journey, showing them just how amazing oceans are, what plants and animals live in them, and how we can help them.

Inside the pages of this book, you’ll discover:

   • Interesting information about oceans that supports and goes beyond the curriculum
   • Fun and unusual facts to convey the amazing world of ocean life
   • Detailed illustrations and photographs of fish, shellfish, mammals such as dolphins, waves, and more

Explore a world hidden below the waves!
People and Places: A Visual Encyclopedia
Culture, human geography, places
People and Places – A Visual Encyclopedia

This is an optional reference book.

This is a beautiful book for all ages with information about a variety of cultures.

“From Spaniards to Samoans, and the Miao to the Miskitu, this fully updated edition of DK’s popular Encyclopedia of People will take you on a worldwide tour of continents, peninsulas, and islands to discover what life is like for the billions of people on our planet.”
Wonders of the World (DK Eyewitness)
Sights around the world, some culture and science facts, too

Note: Millions of years is mentioned several times (p. 7, 18, 23, 26).
Wonders of the World (DK Eyewitness)

This is an optional reference book.

Become an eyewitness to the fascinating architectural feats and natural treasures of the world in this picture-led reference guide that will take you on a visual tour of more than 50 wonders of the world. Children will be mesmerized by human-made landscapes such as the Statue of Liberty to record-breaking natural marvels like the River Nile. 

Prisoners of Geography: Our World Explained in 12 Simple Maps
Geography, geopolitics, physical geography, history, non-fiction
Prisoners of Geography: Our World Explained in 12 Simple Maps

“A stunning abridged and illustrated edition of the international bestseller Prisoners of Geography, by acclaimed author Tim Marshall”

Cooking Class
Cooking skills and lessons, recipes from around the world

Note: Millions of years is mentioned on p. 38
Cooking Class Global Feast!: 44 Recipes That Celebrate the World’s Cultures

This book is available at Hoopla.

Food is a fun way to celebrate diversity, and in her new kids’ cookbook, best-selling author Deanna F. Cook leads young chefs on a tasty tour of global cultures and cuisines.

Kids gain practical kitchen skills through preparing breakfasts, drinks, snacks, dinners, and desserts from around the world. A pop-out food passport, world language flash cards, and flag stickers provide additional fun on their global food journey, while infographics encourage taste-test explorations of fruits, drinks, breads, vegetables, and ice creams from around the world.

2019 Mom’s Choice Award Gold Winner
2020 NAPPA Award Winner 
It's Disgusting and We Ate It! True Food Facts from Around the World and Throughout History
Culture, history, foods around the world
It’s Disgusting and We Ate It! True Food Facts from Around the World and Throughout History

This book is free at the Open Library.

How about a nice dish of Colonial Squirrel Pie with a side of milkweed shoots? If that doesn’t grab you, you might think about trying some Garbage Stew, just like they made in medieval England. But if you’re feeling a little tired and need a boost, your best bet is roasted spiders. They’ve got three times the protein of cooked beef. (Is your mouth watering yet?)

The Science of Seasons Book
Seasons, science, culture

Note: This book has some Bible references. If you are a secular family, you can skip them if you do this book as a read-aloud or you can replace with a different book about the seasons.
The Science of Seasons (A Guest Hollow Guide)

This book is available via Kindle Unlimited.

Join Abigail, Henry, Grace, and their lively Fox Terrier, Beowulf, as they learn about the seasons in this lavishly illustrated, Christian-friendly science book! Kids will learn about the seasons in different parts of the world, solstices, equinoxes, and a myriad of other topics brought together in a way to draw in both strong and reluctant readers!

Geography from A to Z: A Picture Glossary
Geography terms
Geography from A to Z: A Picture Glossary

This is an excellent picture book reference that illustrates LOTS of geography terms like: ford, geyser, atoll, bay, cape, delta, fjord, gulch, gulf, key, marsh, palisade, plateau, sound, strait, tundra and more. All 47 pages are heavily illustrated with definitions that are easy to understand.
The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid
Geography, the natural world

Note: Several sections mention “millions of years” (p. 16-17 Mexico, p. 68-69 Bolivia, p. 70-71 Scotland, p. 54-55 Cambodia).
The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid

New York Times bestseller!

The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid is a thrilling expedition to 100 of the most surprising, mysterious, and weird-but-true places on earth. 

For curious kids, this is the chance to embark on the journey of a lifetime—and see how faraway countries have more in common than you might expect! Hopscotch from country to country in a chain of connecting attractions: Explore Mexico’s glittering cave of crystals, then visit the world’s largest cave in Vietnam. Peer over a 355-foot waterfall in Zambia, then learn how Antarctica’s Blood Falls got their mysterious color. Or see mysterious mummies in Japan and France, then majestic ice caves in both Argentina and Austria. 

As you climb mountains, zip-line over forests, and dive into oceans, this book is your passport to a world of hidden wonders, illuminated by gorgeous art.

The Book of Languages: Talk Your Way around the World
World languages, history

Note: On p. 7 there a small paragraph about evolution. Creationist parents will want to either cover this up or discuss it.
The Book of Languages: Talk Your Way around the World

This book is free at the Open Library.

“We use language all day, every day – probably without thinking much about it. But if you stop and consider it, language is not only extremely important, it’s fascinating too! Use of language is one of the key things distinguishing humans from other animals, and nearly 7,000 languages are spoken around the world. Without it, we’d be hard pressed to communicate, express ourselves, or understand others. The Book of Languages begins with an introduction to why language is important, how it originated and how it changes. From there, the book profiles 21 of the world’s languages. Each spread showcases a language’s history, where it’s spoken, what it looks like and how to speak a few phrases and count to ten. Rounded out with sections on non-verbal and animal language, this book will stimulate readers’ curiosity about the world and spark appreciation for language learning.”
Choose one of the following:

Geography, animals and insects, science, ecology

Book 1: Arctic Tundra

This book is free at the Open Library.

It’s a land of riddles, where a winter night can last for weeks and where the ground is full of water though it rarely rains or snows. Bears, hares, wolves, and foxes roam the ice-crusted earth, as flowers follow the sun as it moves across the sky. Readers may never come to the Arctic tundra, but now it can come to them―in a book chock full of fun-to-do experiments and activities for children that help them to solve some of the mysteries of this strange and forbidding world.
The Frozen Worlds: The Astonishing Nature of the Arctic and Antarctic
Geography, animals and insects, science, ecology

Book 2: The Frozen Worlds: The Astonishing Nature of the Arctic and Antarctic 

Note: This book won’t be released until March 21, 2023. I’ve not had a chance to read through it all yet, but I have previewed some pages not available to the public. It has beautiful eye-candy illustrations with a good variety of info. The description says it’s for ages 7-9, but I think it’s quite appropriate for older readers as well.

Polar bears and penguins glide and whales and walruses dive across the pages of this colorful book, which takes children on a fascinating sub-zero journey of the amazing Earth’s poles.

The Frozen Worlds combines stunning illustrations and photos to help young enthusiasts learn all about the Arctic and Antarctic. From incredible frozen rivers to Antarctic volcanoes, they’ll discover the incredible secret life of Earth’s polar regions, as well as which plants and animals live near them, and how they can protect them from the issues facing them today. Children will love finding out all about the different people who live and work here, and how they can help take care of the Arctic and Antarctic themselves.
Choose one of the following:
Who Was Ernest Shackleton?Antarctica, history, non-fiction

Book 1 for younger students:
Who Was Ernest Shackleton?

As a boy he preferred reading sea stories to doing homework and, at age 16, became an apprentice seaman. Subsequently, Ernest Shackleton’s incredible journeys to the South Pole in the early 1900s made him one of the most famous explorers of modern times.  His courage in the face of dangerous conditions and unforeseeable tragedies reveal the great leader that he was. His historic 1914 journey aboard the Endurance has all the drama of an action movie.
Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World: The Extraordinary True Story of Shackleton and the EnduranceAntarctica, history, non-fiction

Book 2 for older students:
Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World

The audiobook version is available at Hoopla.

The extraordinary true story behind Ernest Shackleton’s harrowing expedition to Antarctica on the Endurance—the ill-fated ship that became trapped in ice and sank to the ocean floor. Defying the odds, the crew made it back alive, bringing with them the astounding collection of photographs included in this critically acclaimed, timeless book.
50 Cities of the U.S.A.: Explore America's cities with 50 fact-filled maps
U.S.A., geography, culture, non-fiction
50 Cities of the U.S.A.: Explore America’s cities with 50 fact-filled maps

This book is available at Hoopla.

I looked for a book that would cover all sorts of U.S. culture. This book is exactly what I was looking for! Although it was written for children, even an adult can have fun pouring over the detailed illustrations (I did!).

“Explore skyscraper streets, museum miles, local food trucks and city parks of the United States of America and discover more than 2,000 facts that celebrate the people, culture, and diversity that have helped make America what it is today. From Anchorage to Washington D.C., take a trip through America’s well-loved cities with this unique A-Z like no other, lavishly illustrated and annotated with key cultural icons, from famous people and inventions to events, food and monuments.”
Where Is Niagara Falls?
Note: At the end of chapter 1, there is a section that states, “Two million years ago, the earth was covered in ice…”
Where Is Niagara Falls?

While traveling through Canada in 1678, a French priest came across the most gigantic waterfalls he’d ever seen. Stricken with both awe and fear, he began to shake, fell to his knees, and prayed. Ever since, people from all over the world have come to explore Niagara: among them the daredevils determined to tumble down or walk across the falls on tightrope. Kids will get a kick reading about the hare-brained stunts and will also learn how the falls were formed and how–one day–they will disappear.

Lonely Planet Kids This Is My World
Geography, culture
Lonely Planet Kids This Is My World

In this fascinating and fun collection, 84 children from incredibly diverse backgrounds share their stories and photos of what’s unique about their lives – from weather, local festivals and hobbies to their favorite sports and food. These personal portraits also reveal the many things children have in common, no matter where they’re from.
Discover what it’s like to live in an orphanage in Zambezi, by a remote fjord in Greenland, on a cattle ranch in Australia, high up in the Himalaya mountains in Nepal, at an eco-lodge in Costa Rica, and much more.
Weird But True Canada: 300 Outrageous Facts About the True North
Canada, culture

Note: p. 116 mentions “millions of years”
Weird But True Canada: 300 Outrageous Facts About the True North

“Calling all Canadians and Canada-philes: Get ready to be amazed and delighted by wacky facts, stats, tidbits, and trivia, eh? Did you know that the Royal Mint once created a coin weighing more than 90 kg and valued at over $1 million dollars? Or that Canada was the first country to build a UFO landing pad? Maybe you’d be amazed to discover that Montreal is the second largest French-speaking city in the world? It’s all weird–and it’s all true…Canada style! In this latest and greatest edition of Weird But True, you’ll read all about the wacky wilds, bizarre bites, and strange scenes of Canada!”
Bear Goes SugaringBear Goes Sugaring

Don’t pay attention to the recommended age for this book. It’s got plenty of info that will teach your students where maple syrup comes from and how it’s harvested.

“Learn how to make syrup the old-fashioned way with the help of a friendly bear and her amusingly unhelpful accomplices Dog and Squirrel in this informative comics-style picture book.”
The Good Garden: How One Family Went from Hunger to Having Enough
Honduras, true story, science (sustainable farming)
The Good Garden: How One Family Went from Hunger to Having Enough 

This book is available at Hoopla.

From the best-selling author of One Hen comes the inspiring story of one struggling farming family in Honduras and their journey to growing enough food to meet their needs.

Based on the real story of farm transformation underway in Honduras and many other countries, this book offers children ways they can be part of the movement to grow “good gardens” and foster food security. Eleven-year-old María Luz and her family live on a small farm. This year their crop is poor, and they may not have enough to eat or to sell for other essentials, such as health care, school uniforms and books. When María’s father must leave home to find work, she is left in charge of their garden. Then a new teacher comes to María’s school and introduces her to sustainable farming practices that yield good crops. As María begins to use the same methods at home, she too sees improvements, which allow her family to edge their way out of the grip of the greedy “coyotes” — the middlemen who make profits on the backs of poor farmers. Little by little, the farms — and the hopes — of María and her neighbors are transformed as good gardens begin to grow.

What Is the Panama Canal?
Panama, history, geography
What Is the Panama Canal?

Before 1914, traveling from the East Coast to the West Coast meant going by land across the entire United States. To go by sea involved a long journey around South America and north along the Pacific Coast. But then, in a dangerous and amazing feat of engineering, a 48-mile-long channel was dug through Panama, creating the world’s most famous shortcut: the Panama Canal!
Journey to the River Sea
Brazil and England, literature
Journey to the River Sea

This book is free at the Open Library.

I love this novel!! It’s a great adventure story told in the lush environs of the Amazon with descriptions of the climate, animals, plants, and people.

There is a discussion guide linked in the schedule for you to download for this book.

“With the memorable characters and plot twists she brings to her best-selling fantasies, acclaimed author Eva Ibbotson has written a hair-raising novel, set in turn-of-the-last-century Brazil.”
Where Is Machu Picchu?
Peru, history, geography
Where Is Machu Picchu?

What’s left of Machu Picchu stands as the most significant link to the marvelous Inca civilization of Peru. Now readers can explore these ruins in this compelling Where Is? title.

Built in the fifteenth century and tucked away in the mountains of Peru, Machu Picchu was abandoned after the Spaniards conquered the Incan empire in the sixteenth century. It remained hidden until 1911 when Hiram Bingham uncovered the marvelous complex and shared his discovery with the world. Today, hundreds of thousands of people visit the site to climb the 3,000 stone steps, explore the towering monuments, and see the numerous species that call these famous ruins home.
Choose one of the following 2 books:

Geography, animals and insects, science, ecology

Book 1: Amazon River (Earth’s Incredible Places) 

It is the widest, largest river on planet Earth, surrounded by deep rainforest and home to an incredible array of wildlife. Welcome to the Amazon.
Take a journey through South America along the winding Amazon River, spotting tree frogs, piranhas, snakes and tropical insects along the way. Where does the river begin, and where does it end? Which animals dwell in its murky waters and how much life does it sustain in the habitats all along its banks? Through gorgeous, detailed illustrations, the mysteries of the Amazon are revealed.
Eyewitness The Amazon
Geography, animals and insects, science, ecology

Book 2: Eyewitness The Amazon (DK Eyewitness) 

Become an eyewitness to the fascinating species that live in the depths of the Amazon rainforest, in this picture-led reference guide that will take you on a visual tour of the nine South American countries it extends across.

Children can journey down the Amazon and explore the world’s largest rainforest in this unique, beautifully illustrated guide to the beauty and diversity of the rainforest and the river, its flora and fauna, and the people who live in the region. Using striking full-color photographs and illustrations, kids can discover why this ecosystem is so important to the whole world along with amazing facts, diagrams, and statistics to see the Amazon as never before.

Ecuador, history, geography, and culture
Your Passport to Ecuador (World Passport)

This book is available at Hoopla.

What would it be like to live in Ecuador? How is Ecuador’s culture unique? Explore the sights, traditions, and daily lives of Ecuadorians!
The Big Book of the UK: Facts, folklore and fascinations from around the United Kingdom
United Kingdom, geography and culture
The Big Book of the UK: Facts, folklore and fascinations from around the United Kingdom 

The Big Book of the UK introduces readers to customs and culture of the United Kingdom. Learn about the sport of “dwile flonking” and find out where black diamonds come from. Meet the supernatural animal that haunts the Scottish Highlands and discover the British sweets that helped Hillary and Tenzing scale Everest.

Filled with facts about wildlife, food, sports, geography, language and some very silly place names, this book will help you uncover national secrets and unearth local legends from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Where Is the Tower of London?
England, history, famous landmark

Note: There is some violence in this book (executions, torture is mentioned, etc.). Preview for sensitive or younger students.
Where Is the Tower of London?

“The Tower of London draws more than 2 million visitors a year! Almost 1,000 years old and first built by William the Conqueror in 1066, the tower has been a fortress, a palace, a zoo, and an exhibit site for the amazing Crown Jewels. But the tower’s reputation as a prison is probably what accounts for its popularity! Two young princes in the time of King Richard III were never again heard from after entering the castle, and two of King Henry VIII’s wives were held captive here. Author Janet B. Pascal brings to life one of the most fascinating landmarks in the world.”

Ireland, history, origin of the St. Patrick’s Day holiday
Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland

This book is free at the Open Library.

This is a picture book, but it’s a great, quick read about the origins of the famous Irish holiday.

This timeless picture book is a perfect introduction to important Irish legends. With his signature bold illustrations and engaging prose, Tomie dePaola recounts a number of legends about the Saint—including the well-known story of how he drove the snakes from Ireland, and his association with the shamrock.

Choose from one of the following 2 books:
Note: If you’ve already read Heidi (or prefer a different story, you can read Hans Brinker, instead.
Book 1: Heidi

Any copy of the unabridged version of this book will work. There are lots of free copies available online.

This book is available free at the Open Library.

This book is available at Hoopla.

This book is available on Everand

“When Heidi, a cheerful 5-year-old orphan, comes to live with her grandfather in the Swiss Alps, she brings a bright ray of sunshine into the lives of the people around her. Young Peter, a goatherd, shares her love of nature, and his blind grandmother delights in the little girl’s bubbling personality. Even Heidi’s surly and hermit-like grandfather, the old Alm-Uncle, finds his long-lost grandchild a source of immense pleasure.
A few years later, when she is forced to go to Frankfurt to serve as a companion for Klara, a well-to-do but sickly girl, Heidi must leave her beloved mountains and friends behind — an experience that proves highly traumatic to the innocent and sensitive little girl. But her return home and a visit from Klara result in magical moments that will leave young readers thoroughly captivated by this heartwarming tale of an unforgettable child and her effect on the people around her.

Complete and unabridged, this story “for children and those who love children” will thrill today’s youngsters just as it has delighted generations of young readers and listeners since its original publication in 1881.”
Classic Starts: Heidi
Book 2: Classic Starts®: Heidi

This book is available on Everand

The Classic Starts series takes classics loved by children through the ages and makes them approachable and easy to read independently. Each novel is expertly abridged to make them suitable for young readers (about 7+), without losing the charm and excitement that made the original story so popular.
Where Is the Eiffel Tower?
Paris, history, famous landmark
Where Is the Eiffel Tower?

“Learn about the Eiffel Tower, beloved and iconic symbol of Paris, France, and one of the most recognizable structures in the world!

When the plans for the Eiffel Tower were first announced, many people hated the design of the future landmark, calling it ungainly and out of step with the beautiful stone buildings of the city. But once it went up for the World’s Fair in 1889, the people of Paris quickly fell in love with the tower. Today it seems impossible to imagine Paris without the Eiffel Tower, which greets millions of visitors each year who climb up its wrought-iron stairs, ride its glass elevators, and enjoy the wonderful views of the city spread out below it.

This book, part of the New York Times best-selling series, is enhanced by eighty illustrations and a detachable fold-out map complete with four photographs on the back.”
The Greatest Skating Race: A World War II Story from the Netherlands
Netherlands, history, fiction
The Greatest Skating Race: A World War II Story from the Netherlands

This book is free at the Open Library.

In 1941 Piet, a young Dutch boy from Sluis, gets the assignment of a lifetime: He must skate along the frozen canals of the Netherlands and across the Belgian border, in order to guide two neighborhood children to their aunt’s house in Brugge, where the children will remain for the duration of World War II. Their father has been taken by German soldiers, and the children are no longer safe in Sluis — but the journey with Piet, past soldiers and enemies, is fraught with danger.
Life on Surtsey: Iceland's Upstart Island (Scientists in the Field)
Iceland, science, animals and insects, ecology
Life on Surtsey: Iceland’s Upstart Island (Scientists in the Field)

This book is available at Hoopla.

On November 14, 1963, a volcano fifteen miles off the shore of Iceland exploded under the sea, resulting in a brand-new island. Scientists immediately recognized Surtsey for what it was: an opportunity to observe the way life takes hold.  

Loree Griffin Burns follows entomologist Erling Ólafsson on a five-day trip to Surtsey, where since 1970 he has studied the arrival and survival of insects and other species. Readers see how demanding conditions on Surtsey can be, what it’s like to eat and work while making the smallest impact possible, and the passion driving these remarkable scientists in one of the world’s most unique fields ever! 
D'Aulaires' Book of Norse Myths
Norway, Scandinavia, myths, literature
D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths

This book is free at the Open Library.

The Caldecott medal-winning d’Aulaires once again captivate their young audience with this beautifully illustrated introduction to Norse legends, telling stories of Odin the All-father, Thor the Thunder-god and the theft of his hammer, Loki the mischievous god of the Jotun Race, and Ragnarokk, the destiny of the gods. Children meet Bragi, the god of poetry, and the famous Valkyrie maidens, among other gods, goddesses, heroes, and giants. Illustrations throughout depict the wondrous other world of Norse folklore and its fantastical Northern landscape.
Awesome Minds: The Inventors of LEGO(R) Toys
Denmark, non-fiction
Awesome Minds: The Inventors of LEGO(R) Toys

This book is available at Hoopla.

This fun and engaging book tells the story of how a Danish carpenter and his family turned a desperate situation into the most popular toy in history. With full-color illustrations and lively text, and chock-full of interesting facts, Awesome Minds: The Inventors of LEGO® Toys is the perfect read for those with creative spirits and curious minds.
Where Is the Parthenon?
Greece, history, famous landmark
Where Is the Parthenon?

“Discover the ruins of the Parthenon, one of the most famous and beautiful places in the world!
Athens, Greece, is best known for the Parthenon, the ruins of an ancient temple completed in 438 BC to honor the goddess Athena. But what many people don’t know is that it only served as a temple for a couple hundred years. It then became a church, then a mosque, and by the end of the 1600s served as a storehouse for munitions. When an enemy army fired hundreds of cannon balls at the Acropolis, one directly hit the Parthenon. Much of the sculpture was destroyed, three hundred people died, and the site fell into ruin. Today, visitors continue to flock to this world-famous landmark, which has become a symbol for Ancient Greece, democracy, and modern civilization. Includes black-and-white illustrations and a foldout color map!”
Brother Andrew: Behind Enemy Lines (Trail Blazers)
Netherlands, Indonesia, England, various Eastern Europe countries, history, non-fiction

Note: This is a Christian book. If you are a secular family and wish to skip it, you can replace it with a book or story set in Eastern Europe.
Brother Andrew: Behind Enemy Lines (Trail Blazers) 

Want to add more Christian books to your country studies? Scroll down to the unscheduled book list. 🙂

“In the years before Andrew van der Bijl took the name Brother Andrew, he was no stranger to adventure and intrigue – in fact, he craved it. As a young lad, he was forever getting into mischief, and even risked his life during the Nazi occupation of Holland by setting off fireworks in the faces of German soldiers! Years later, God used this same thirst for danger and excitement as Andrew smuggled Bibles into Communist countries to help the persecuted, underground church and bring light to darkened hearts. Enemy lines and hostile borders mean nothing to God or to Andrew, who still works to assist the persecuted church across the world through the organization he founded, Open Doors.”
A Refugee's Journey from Ukraine
Ukraine, history, current issues
Note: This may not be a good book for younger children since it discusses war and the death of a family member. Use your discretion.
A Refugee’s Journey from Ukraine

This book was published in 2018, so it doesn’t have the newest information about the current war in Ukraine, but it gives a good understanding of the issues and history of the area as well as what it means to be a refugee. After reading, it’s suggested you let your child know the updated info about the area.
Breaking Stalin's Nose
Russia, history, literature
Breaking Stalin’s Nose

The audiobook is available at Hoopla.

Substitute Blastoff Readers: Russia or Russia ABCs: A Book About the People and Places of Russia or a similar book for young students.

There is a discussion guide linked in the schedule for you to download for this book.

“Eugene Yelchin’s moving story of a ten-year-old boy’s world shattering is masterful in its simplicity, powerful in its message, and heartbreaking in its plausibility.
Breaking Stalin’s Nose is one of Horn Book‘s Best Fiction Books of 2011″
Where Is the Kremlin?
Russia, geography, history, famous landmark

Note: There is some violence in this book (a man is killed by dogs, the imperial family is murdered, etc.). Preview for sensitive or younger students.
Where Is the Kremlin?

Get the inside story on the famous fortress in the heart of Moscow that has withstood fires, invaders, and revolutions for almost seven hundred years.

Lined by nineteen beautiful towers, the high walls of the Kremlin enclose colorful domed cathedrals, treasure-filled museums, and the Russian capitol. But this Moscow fortress has had its share of dark days. Follow along with author Deborah Hopkinson as she recounts the tales of spying, murder, missing children, and lost treasure that are part of this landmark’s long history.
Peter Tchaikovsky
Russia, history, music
Peter Tchaikovsky

This book is free at the Open Library (the older edition).

This series of books is slated for ages 8-9, but anyone can learn from them. They are quick and easy reads but are an enjoyable way to learn about famous people. We used these in our homeschool, and even the older kids read them. 🙂

“Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Composers series combines a delightful mix of full-color historical reproductions, photos, and hilarious cartoon-style illustrations that bring to life the works of renowned composers, combining poignant anecdotes with important factual information for readers.”
Choose one of the following:
For the Right to Learn: Malala Yousafzai's Story
Pakistan, non-fiction

Book 1:
For the Right to Learn: Malala Yousafzai’s Story

This book is free at the Open Library.
This book is available at Hoopla.
The audiobook is available at Everand.
This book is available via Kindle Unlimited.

This beautifully illustrated volume tells Malala’s story for a younger audience and shows them the worldview that allowed Malala to hold on to hope even in the most difficult of times.
Malala: My Story of Standing Up for Girls' Rights
Pakistan, non-fiction

Book 2:
Malala: My Story of Standing Up for Girls’ Rights

Note: There is some violence in this book (Malala is shot, the Taliban say she should be killed, etc.), but it’s pretty tamed down in this version for younger readers. Preview for sensitive children. There are also a lot of references to God via Malala’s beliefs (she is a Muslim). Christian parents will want to be on hand to discuss Malala’s religion and the differences between it and Christianity.

In this edition, Malala tells her story in clear, accessible language perfect for children who are too old for Malala’s Magic Pencil and too young for her middle-grade memoir. Featuring line art and simplified back matter, Malala teaches a new audience the value of speaking out against intolerance and hate: an inspiring message of hope in Malala’s own words.
Ali Baba: Fooling the Forty Thieves [An Arabian Tale] (Graphic Myths and Legends)
Note: There is some violence in this story: a man is killed, some men are scalded and killed by oil, etc. Skip for younger or sensitive children.
Ali Baba: Fooling the Forty Thieves [An Arabian Tale] (Graphic Myths and Legends)

This book is available at Hoopla.
This book is available via Amazon Kids.

From the pages of Arabian Nights comes an amazing tale of chance and adventure. Ali Baba, a poor man who makes his living selling wood, stumbles upon a secret cave where 40 bandits have been hiding priceless treasures. He enters the cave and decides to take some treasures for himself. Ali Baba’s wife is thrilled at their newfound fortune—but when she borrows a scale to weigh the riches, Ali Baba’s secret gets out. Now that the secret is revealed, will Ali Baba be able to keep his fortune? Or will the bandits get their revenge?
Where Is the Taj Mahal?
India, history, famous monument, Hindu and Muslim religious customs/beliefs

Note: p. 8 mentions a fortune teller
Where Is the Taj Mahal?

“Learn about the love story behind the creation of one of the most beautiful and famous buildings in the world.

The Taj Mahal may look like a palace, but it’s actually a tomb and a lasting testament to one of the world’s great love stories. In 1612, Mogul emperor Shah Jahan married Mumtaz Mahal. It had been love at first sight and for nineteen years they were so inseparable that Mumtaz even accompanied Shah Jahan to battlefields. When she died suddenly giving birth to their fourteenth child, the emperor set about building a magnificent memorial to his wife. Everything about the Taj was perfectly planned, from the white marble walls that shimmer in the sunlight and sparkle by moonlight, to the countless decorative flowers made from precious gems that still astound visitors today. Recent discoveries at the site make this a timely account of a timeless monument.”

Choose one of the following:
Everest (Earth's Incredible Places)
Nepal, Tibet, Mt. Everest, history, culture, science

Everest (Earth’s Incredible Places)
*This is my (Jenn’s) preference of the two books, but both are good. 🙂 Preview this book here.

Note: This book mentions millions of years at the beginning (p. 8-9). Young earth creationists can skip those pages. The Hindu and Buddhist religions are discussed on p. 20-21 in the context of explaining how those two religions are dominant in the area. Page 60 mentions “fossils of sea creatures 400 million years old.”
There is a notes and teacher’s section at the end of the book and a teacher’s resource pack linked in the schedule.

“A Children’s Book Council 2019 Outstanding Science Trade Book for Students K-12. 

This stunning nonfiction picture book compendium of facts about the world’s highest mountain, with illustrations from up-and-comer Lisk Feng, will not disappoint.

Hundreds of people dare to climb Mount Everest every year, following in Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s footsteps, hoping to experience Earth’s highest peak. But there is so much more to this mountain than the brave mountaineers who climb it. Travel back to its ancient origins, learn about the flowers and plants that grow upon this great peak, and discover the rich history of religions, myths, and legends that surround this great Sagarmatha, the Goddess of the Sky.
Where Is Mount Everest?
Nepal, Tibet, Mt. Everest, history, culture, science

Where Is Mount Everest?

Note: This book mentions millions of years ago at the beginning (p.9, 12-13).

As the recent deaths of sixteen Sherpas underscore, climbing Mount Everest remains a daunting challenge. Located in the Himalayas, Everest is the highest mountain in the world at a whopping 29,028 feet. In this compelling narrative, Nico Medina guides readers through the mountain’s ancient beginnings, first human settlers, historic climbs, and the modern commercialization of mountain-climbing. With stories of expeditions gone wrong and miraculously successful summit climbs, this is a thrilling addition to the Where Is? series!
Secrets of the Terra-Cotta Soldier
China, history (2 different time periods), fiction, some culture

Note: There is some mild violence in this book such as the terra cotta soldier sharing that the Chinese soldiers cut off the heads of the Mongol warriors.
Secrets of the Terra-Cotta Soldier

This book is free at the Open Library.
This book is available at Hoopla.

 In this action-packed adventure and coming-of-age story that finely weaves fact and fiction, thirteen-year-old Ming lives in a small village in Maoist China in the 1970s. His father is convinced that Emperor Qin’s tomb―and the life-size terra-cotta army created to serve and protect the emperor in the afterlife―lies hidden in the hills around them. But if Ming’s father doesn’t prove it soon, the town’s Political Officer will condemn him to the brutal labor camps.

From the stories of a terra-cotta soldier who has survived through the centuries, Ming learns the history of Emperor Qin, known for building the Great Wall of China, and how and why the terra-cotta soldiers came to be. As their unlikely friendship develops, Ming experiences the mysterious tomb firsthand, braving deadly traps and witnessing the terra-cotta army in action. Most importantly, he comes to see how he can save both the terra-cotta soldiers and his father from the corrupt Political Officer and his Communist cronies.

The book is illustrated with photographs of Communist Chinese village life in the 1970s, the Great Wall, and, of course, the excavated tomb with its many terra-cotta soldiers. It also features a special recipe from the story.
Where Is the Great Wall?
China, history, geography, famous landmark, a bit of science

Note: There is some violence in this book (scholars were killed, citizens could be beheaded, etc.).
Where Is the Great Wall?

“More than two thousand years ago, with his land under constant attack from nomads, the First Emperor of China came up with a simple solution: build a wall to keep out enemies. It was a wall that kept growing and growing. But its construction came at a huge cost: it is believed that more than a million Chinese died building it, earning the wall its nickname–the longest cemetery on earth. Through the story of the wall, Patricia Brennan Demuth is able to tell the story of China itself, the rise and fall of dynasties, the greatness of its culture, and its present-day status as a Communist world power.”
All About Korea: Stories, Songs, Crafts and Games for Kids
Korea, culture
All About Korea: Stories, Songs, Crafts and Games for Kids

This book is free at the Open Library.
This book is available at Hoopla.

All About Korea is perfect for educators and parents wishing to teach kids about this rich Asian culture. This Korean children’s book is an excellent introduction to the culture and history of Korea. It highlights favorite games, foods, special holiday times, and after-school activities specific to Korea.
Lonely Planet Kids City Trails - Singapore
Singapore, culture, history

Note: p. 24 talks about Singapore’s first-ever tattoo artist. We didn’t promote tattoos in our family, so we’re mentioning this for anyone else who would like to be on hand to discuss that, if necessary. Various religious beliefs are mentioned in the context of a variety of destinations. “Ghosts” are mentioned in the context of festivals and certain local attractions, etc. such as the Hungry Ghost Festival. Christian parents may want to be on hand to discuss those types of things. 🙂
Lonely Planet Kids City Trails – Singapore

This book is available on Hoopla.

In City Trails: Singapore, join Lonely Planet explorers Marco and Amelia as they hunt for more secrets, stories and surprises in another of the world’s great cities. You’ll discover a wobbly rainforest walkway, a rainbow-coloured school, racing dragons, the world’s longest rooftop swimming pool, and lots more!

Magic Ramen: The Story of Momofuku Ando
Japan, history, true story
Magic Ramen: The Story of Momofuku Ando

I love this book! It has a great message behind it.

Inspiration struck when Momofuku Ando spotted the long lines for a simple bowl of ramen following World War II. Magic Ramen tells the true story behind the creation of one of the world’s most popular foods.

Every day, Momofuku Ando would retire to his lab–a little shed in his backyard. For years, he’d dreamed about making a new kind of ramen noodle soup that was quick, convenient, and tasty for the hungry people he’d seen in line for a bowl on the black market following World War II. Peace follows from a full stomach, he believed.

Day after day, Ando experimented. Night after night, he failed. But Ando kept experimenting.

With persistence, creativity, and a little inspiration, Ando succeeded. This is the true story behind one of the world’s most popular foods.
My Awesome Japan Adventure: A Diary about the Best 4 Months Ever!
Japan, culture and facts, graphic novel
My Awesome Japan Adventure: A Diary about the Best 4 Months Ever!

This is such a fun book! The illustrations are really kid-friendly and there is a ton to explore on each page. I like that it covers so many different topics in such a visual way.
Hachiko Waits: Based on a True Story
Japan, fiction based on a true story
Note: A man dies in the story (no graphic details).
Hachiko Waits: Based on a True Story

The audiobook is available at Hoopla.

Warning: Have some Kleenex on hand. 😉

“What a good dog you are. What a fine dog you are. Hachi, you are the best dog in all of Japan.”
Professor Ueno speaks these words to his faithful dog before boarding the train to work every morning. And every afternoon, just before three o’clock, Hachi is at the train station to greet his beloved master. One day, the train arrives at the station without the professor. Hachi waits.
For ten years, Hachi waits for his master to return. Not even Yasuo, the young boy who takes care of Hachi, can persuade him to leave his post.
Hachiko Waits, a novel inspired by a true story, brings to life the legendary Akita who became a national symbol for loyalty and devotion. This is a must-read for dog lovers of all ages.”
Printable Japan Mini-Unit
Japan, geography, culture, craft, etc.
Japan Mini-Unit

This is the perfect mini-unit to supplement a study on Japan! There is a craft, mapwork, a coloring page, copywork, and students learn about the spring celebration of Hanami (viewing cherry blossoms). Students also learn about the Japanese writing system and will then will then put their new knowledge into practice by writing and learning about the hiragana symbol that stands for the sound “ah”. This friendly writing printable is totally guided so that students learn the proper formation of the symbol and also learn several easy Japanese words that begin with that symbol. It’s also designed to be colored, if desired.
Every page is lovingly digitally hand drawn and painted!

Japan, fiction, picture book
Maneki Neko

This book is free at the Open Library.

This book is about the Japanese legend of Maneki Neko, the beckoning cat, who is a symbol of good luck and good fortune in many Asian countries.

It’s a picture book, so it’s a quick read, but it’s nice to know one of the legends behind the cat symbol you see in Asian restaurants, etc.
How to Live Like a Samurai Warrior
Japan, history, culture

Note: Seppuku is mentioned on p. 28-29 (ritual suicide) in the context of a historical battle and the general Yamamoto Kansuke. Here’s a quote from the book introducing that section: “To a samurai, the disgrace of defeat is worse than death.” You may want to be on hand to explain the cultural significance of this act (or skip these pages for younger or sensitive children).
How to Live Like a Samurai Warrior

This book is available at Hoopla.

This is a colorful graphic novel style book about samurai (and a section on ninjas).

At the age of five, Takeshi joins the other youngsters in a samurai’s castle to train as a noble fighter. Join him in action as he fires arrows while riding on horseback and defeats three foes in bare-handed combat. Take on the samurai’s “way of the warrior” lifestyle and it will make you strong―but always remember that honor can be more important than life.
How To Draw Kawaii - Animals, People, Food and MoreOptional: How to Draw Kawaii – Animals, People, Food and More

Kawaii is the culture of “cuteness” in Japan.

This book is chock full of cute drawing lessons that are easy enough even for the beginning artist!
All About the Philippines: Stories, Songs, Crafts and Games for Kids
Philippines, geography, culture
All About the Philippines: Stories, Songs, Crafts and Games for Kids

This book is free at the Open Library.
This book is available at Hoopla.

**Winner of the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award Gold Medal for Activity Book — Education, Science, History**

This family-friendly Philippines children’s book is packed with fun facts about Filipino culture, history, and daily life!

All About the Philippines takes you on an incredible journey across the colorful island nation of the Philippines with Mary, Jaime, and Ari–three Filipino cousins who look entirely different and yet are the best of friends. You’ll visit their homes, their schools, their families, their favorite places, and much more. They’ll show you how kids in different parts of the Philippines come from many different ethnic groups and have very various cultures–each with separate traditions, languages, and beliefs–and yet, they are all 100% Filipino!

This children’s book, aimed at kids ages 8 to 12, brings them on an exciting trip through some of the most fascinating islands on earth.
The Land I Lost: Adventures of a Boy in Vietnam
Vietnam, history, non-fiction

Note: Preview for deaths of animals and villagers from snake bite & wild boar attack as well as a mention of opium (be prepared to explain what it is in more depth and why such things are potentially life destroying).
The Land I Lost: Adventures of a Boy in Vietnam

This book is free at the Open Library.

An ALA Notable Children’s Book and a Booklist Editors’ Choice, about one young man’s memories of the land he called home.

The land I love was lost to me forever.
Huynh Quang Nhuong grew up in the highlands of Vietnam, next to the jungle teeming with wildlife. Encounters with tigers, wild hogs, and deadly snakes were as much a part of his life as tending the rice fields while on the back of his pet water buffalo, Tank.
Perfect for classrooms, as well as fans of Linda Sue Park and Thanhha Lai, these fifteen tales will transport readers into a world of lush beauty and terrible danger—and a way of life that is gone forever.
Kampung Boy
Malaysia, graphic novel

Note: This book contains: cartoon drawings of children with bare bottoms, a mention of male circumcision (pretty tame, in my opinion)
Kampung Boy

Kampung Boy is a favorite of millions of readers in Southeast Asia. With masterful economy worthy of Charles Schultz, Lat recounts the life of Mat, a Muslim boy growing up in rural Malaysia in the 1950s: his adventures and mischief-making, fishing trips, religious study, and work on his family’s rubber plantation. Meanwhilethe traditional way of life in his village (or kampung) is steadily disappearing, with tin mines and factory jobs gradually replacing family farms and rubber small-holders. When Mat himself leaves for boarding school, he can only hope that his familiar kampung will still be there when he returns. Kampung Boy is hilarious and affectionate, with brilliant, super-expressive artwork that opens a window into a world that has now nearly vanished.”
Africa, Amazing Africa: Country by Country
Africa, geography, culture, science

Note: p. 29 mentions millions of years
Africa, Amazing Africa: Country by Country

Discover the exhilarating diversity of the African continent in storyteller Atinuke’s kaleidoscopic nonfiction guide to the people, flora, and fauna of all fifty-five countries.

A Nigerian storyteller explores the continent of Africa country by country: its geography, peoples, animals, history, resources, and cultural diversity. The book is divided into five distinct sections—South, East, West, Central, and North—and each country is showcased on its own bright, energetic page brimming with friendly facts on science, industry, food, sports, music, wildlife, landscape features, even snippets of local languages.

Complete with colorful maps, an index, and richly patterned and textured illustrations by debut children’s book artist Mouni Feddag, Africa, Amazing Africa is both a beautiful gift book and an essential social studies resource.
Where Is the Serengeti?
Tanzania, geography, science

Note: p. 21 mentions millions of years when talking about Pangea and the Great Rift Valley, p. 27 mentions millions of years in the context of Ngorongoro Crater
Creationists may want to skip p. 66-70 as the book talks about the “cradle of humanity” and the Leakey family in that section.
Where Is the Serengeti?

If you’ve never known what a wildebeest is, you’ll find out now in this latest Where? Is title about the Serengeti.

Each year, over 1.5 million wildebeest make a harrowing journey (more than one thousand miles!) between Tanzania and Kenya. They are in search of new land to graze. Even if these creatures avoid vicious attacks from lions and crocodiles, they could still fall prey to thirst, hunger, and exhaustion. This book not only follows the exciting Migration, but also tells about the other creatures and peoples that co-exist along these beautiful landscapes of the Serengeti.
A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story
Literature based on a true story, Sudan, Kenya, the U.S.

Note: This book contains: a mention of violence without graphic details (a lion eats a boy, crocodiles attack fleeing refugees, etc.)
A Long Walk to Water

This book is available with Kindle Unlimited.
This book is available on Hoopla.

I love this book! It’s so inspiring!

There is a discussion guide linked in the schedule for you to download for this book.

“The New York Times bestseller A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about two eleven-year-olds in Sudan, a girl in 2008 and a boy in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hours’ walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the “lost boys” of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay. Enduring every hardship from loneliness to attack by armed rebels to contact with killer lions and crocodiles, Salva is a survivor, and his story goes on to intersect with Nya’s in an astonishing and moving way.”
Choose one (or both) of the following:
When Stars Are Scattered
Somalian refugees in Kenya, a memoir graphic novel

When Stars Are Scattered

Note: This book mentions a suicide (no graphic details) and also mentions men chewing khat leaves (a drug). Both are mentioned in an age-appropriate way.

(Recommended for ages 9 and up – although some reviewers reported younger children ages 7-8 reading it with their parents). I agree with the reviewers – I think a mature 7 or 8-year-old can handle this one, but it will depend on the kid, of course!

This is one of my favorite graphic novels. The story is so touching and inspiring.

A National Book Award Finalist, this remarkable graphic novel is about growing up in a refugee camp, as told by a former Somali refugee.

Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, have spent most of their lives in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. Life is hard there: never enough food, achingly dull, and without access to the medical care Omar knows his nonverbal brother needs. So when Omar has the opportunity to go to school, he knows it might be a chance to change their future . . . but it would also mean leaving his brother, the only family member he has left, every day.

Heartbreak, hope, and gentle humor exist together in this graphic novel about a childhood spent waiting, and a young man who is able to create a sense of family and home in the most difficult of settings. It’s an intimate, important, unforgettable look at the day-to-day life of a refugee.
Facing the Lion: Growing Up Maasai on the African SavannaKenya, non-fiction

Facing the Lion: Growing Up Maasai on the African Savanna

The eBook and audiobook are available on Hoopla.

Note: This book contains mentions a male circumcision (no graphic details).

“Joseph Lemasolai Lekuton gives American kids a firsthand look at growing up in Kenya as a member of a tribe of nomads whose livelihood centers on the raising and grazing of cattle. Readers share Lekuton’s first encounter with a lion, the epitome of bravery in the warrior tradition. They follow his mischievous antics as a young Maasai cattle herder, coming-of-age initiation, boarding school escapades, soccer success, and journey to America for college. Lekuton’s riveting text combines exotic details of nomadic life with the universal experience and emotions of a growing boy.”
Where Are the Great Pyramids?
Egypt, geography, history, famous landmark
Where Are the Great Pyramids?

The Great Pyramids of Egypt–all kids over the age of five recognize them instantly. These massive tombs were built thousands of years ago, and still no one knows exactly how the ancient Egyptians did it! In this informative account, Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler tell the story of the powerful pharaohs who commissioned the pyramids at Giza and offer a fascinating look at the culture of the afterlife in ancient Egypt, explaining exactly how mummies were made. Easy to read and scrupulously researched, this explores the mysteries that have attracted countless visitors to the pyramids for centuries.
D is for Down Under: An Australia Alphabet
Australia, geography, culture, history, animals, etc.
D is for Down Under: An Australia Alphabet

This book is available at Hoopla.

What country holds the title as the world’s smallest continent and yet the world’s largest island? I stands for island, but one that’s not too small. Our island is enormous. Just try to see it all! There’s no place else quite like it; that is clearly true. Australia is a continent, but it’s an island, too. Originally founded as a penal colony, Australia has long been known for its contrasts (think: wild outback and sophisticated Sydney Opera House). Accompanied by vibrant colorful artwork, D is for Down Under: An Australia Alphabet captures the spirit of this proud country and its many treasures, natural and man-made. Visit spectacular Sydney Harbor, try your hand as a jackaroo working a sheep station, or just sit back and enjoy a Vegemite sandwich. Below the starry night glitter of the Southern Cross constellation, Australia’s “down under” wonders shine brightly.
Where Is the Great Barrier Reef?
Australia, geography, science, history

Note: p. 15 – Hundreds of thousands of years is mentioned, p. 16 – billions of years is mentioned, p. 71 millions of years is mentioned via a bit on the evolution of sirenians, chapter 7 has some man-made climate change statements that some may disagree with
Where Is the Great Barrier Reef?

The Great Barrier Reef, off the coast of Australia, is the world’s largest coral reef system. Stretching more than 1,400 miles, it provides a home to a wide diversity of creatures. This book is not only about the reef, but also about the European discovery of Australia, the native people, etc.
Where Is Easter Island?
Easter Island, geography, history
Where Is Easter Island?

Easter Island, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean thousands of miles from anywhere, has intrigued visitors since Europeans first arrived in the 1700s. How did people first come to live there? How did they build the enormous statues and why? How were they placed around the island without carts or even wheels? Scientists have learned many of the answers, although some things still remain a mystery. Megan Stine reveals it all in a gripping narrative.

This book, part of the New York Times best-selling series, is enhanced by eighty illustrations and a detachable fold-out map complete with four photographs on the back.
Quest for the Tree Kangaroo: An Expedition to the Cloud Forest of New Guinea (Scientists in the Field Series)
Papua New Guinea, non-fiction, science
The Quest for the Tree Kangaroo: An Expedition to the Cloud Forest of New Guinea

This book is available at Hoopla.

The grade range on this book is grades 4-9. I think it’s interesting enough for any age (especially for animal lovers) and has beautiful photographs. The writing is somewhat simplistic, but informative. It’s an easy read and a good introduction to the rainforests of New Guinea.

“It looks like a bear but isn’t one. It climbs trees as easily as a monkey— but isn’t a monkey, either. It has a belly pocket like a kangaroo, but what’s a kangaroo doing up a tree? Meet the amazing Matschie’s tree kangaroo, who makes its home in the ancient trees of Papua New Guinea’s cloud forest. And meet the amazing scientists who track these elusive animals.”
Call It Courage
Polynesia, fiction
Call It Courage

The audiobook is available at Hoopla.

Maftu was afraid of the sea. It had taken his mother when he was a baby, and it seemed to him that the sea gods sought vengeance at having been cheated of Mafatu. So, though he was the son of the Great Chief of Hikueru, a race of Polynesians who worshipped courage, and he was named Stout Heart, he feared and avoided tha sea, till everyone branded him a coward. When he could no longer bear their taunts and jibes, he determined to conquer that fear or be conquered– so he went off in his canoe, alone except for his little dog and pet albatross. A storm gave him his first challenge. Then days on a desert island found him resourceful beyond his own expectation. This is the story of how his courage grew and how he finally returned home. This is a legend. It happened many years ago, but even today the people of Hikueru sing this story and tell it over their evening fires.
DKfindout! Volcanoes
Science, geography

Note: p. 30-31 mentions millions of years
DKfindout! Volcanoes

How are volcanoes created? Which kind of lava is the stickiest? How many volcanoes are located inside the Ring of Fire? Find out the answers to these questions and more in DKfindout! Volcanoes, which features photographs of volcanic masses from around the world and illustrative examples of relevant scientific facts, like the interior structure of the Earth and the slow movement of its tectonic plates. Readers will learn how igneous rocks are formed, what causes disasters like earthquakes and mudslides, and where else in our solar system you can find volcanoes. From fissures to fumaroles, DKfindout! Volcanoes invites readers to explore this explosive world in a unique and fun way.
Berbere Seasoning
Special items for recipes and activities:
Berbere seasoning
Bamboo skewers
Gochugaru pepper (Korean hot pepper),
Ground cardamom

Korean Gonggi jacks


This list doesn’t include the free videos linked in the schedule.

Hachi A Dog's Tale
Japanese true story redone in an American setting (movie)
Hatchi: A Dog’s Tale

This movie is based on the true story of Hachikō, a dog who lived in Japan in the 1930’s.

“From Academy Award®-nominated director Lasse Hallström (2000, The Cider House Rules) comes HACHI: A DOG’S TALE, a film based on one of the most treasured and heartwarming true stories ever told. Golden Globe winner Richard Gere (2002, Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy, Chicago) and Academy Award® nominee Joan Allen (2000, Best Actress, The Contender) star in this inspiring true story.”
Mexico, traditional beliefs, movie

In Disney•Pixar’s extraordinary adventure, a boy who dreams of becoming a great musician embarks on a journey to uncover the mysteries behind his ancestor’s stories and traditions.
The Secret of Kells
Ireland, history, Celtic mythology, movie

Note: This movie has some scary parts which may not be appropriate for the youngest viewers. Click here for the Common Sense Media Review.
The Secret of Kells

“Magic, fantasy, and Celtic mythology come together in a riot of color and detail that dazzle the eyes in a sweeping story about the power of imagination and faith to carry humanity through dark times. In a remote medieval outpost of Ireland, young Brendan embarks on a new life of adventure when a celebrated master illuminator arrives from foreign lands carrying a book brimming with secret wisdom and powers. To help complete the magical book, Brendan has to overcome his deepest fears on a dangerous quest that takes him into the enchanted forest where mythical creatures hide. It is here that he meets the falry Aisling, a mysterious young wolf-girl, who helps him along the way. But with the barbarians closing in, will Brendan’s determination and artistic vision illuminate the darkness and show that enlightenment is the best fortification against evil?”
Even though this movie takes place in a fictional place, it has elements and scraps of Norway throughout. 😉

Encountering Everest-like conditions, mystical trolls and a hilarious snowman named Olaf, Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom.
My Neighbor Totoro
Japan, culture, fantasy, movie

Note: There is a scene where a father bathes with 2 little girls – one of the girls is seen from the side with a bit of her bottom showing briefly. It’s not a sexual scene. It’s a totally innocent cultural thing.
My Neighbor Totoro

I love Totoro! Totoro is a Japanese cultural icon. My Neighbor Totoro was voted the highest-ranking animated film on the 2012 Sight & Sound critics’ poll of all-time greatest films.

“From the legendary Studio Ghibli, creators of Spirited Away and Ponyo, and Academy Award-winning director Hayao Miyazaki, comes a classic tale of magic and adventure for the whole family.”
China, history, movie

In Imperial China, Hua Mulan is an adventurous and active girl who disguises herself as a male warrior in order to save her father.
Finding Nemo
Australia, movie
Finding Nemo

Nemo, a young clownfish is captured and taken to a dentist’s office aquarium. It’s up to Marlin, his father, and Dory, a friendly but forgetful regal blue tang fish, to make the epic journey to bring Nemo home from Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
Polynesian mythology, movie

This Disney movie is based largely off Polynesian mythology.

Books to add in for younger tag-alongs

These books are suggestions for younger tag-alongs (pre-K through 1st or 2nd grade). Most of the books above can be used with younger children, but the following books will give you more options to choose from in case something isn’t a fit for your younger child. You can also use some of these books with an older, struggling reader, or just to add in some easy, quick reads for older children who still enjoy picture books (I’m an adult and I still enjoy them, lol). They are scheduled in, so there is no guessing about when to use them, if you choose to do so. 🙂

Note: Many of the following books are read aloud on YouTube, sometimes by the actual book authors! Do a search! Example search term for one of the books below: Off we go to Mexico + book.

What Makes Day and NightWhat Makes Day and Night

This book is free at the Open Library.
SeasonsSeasonsMy BedMy Bed: Enchanting Ways to Fall Asleep Around the World

This book is available at Hoopla.
In the OceanNational Geographic Readers: In the Ocean

This book is available at Hoopla.
Amazing Arctic Animals (Penguin Young Readers, Level 3)Amazing Arctic Animals (Penguin Young Readers, Level 3)Ice Wreck (A Stepping Stone Book)Ice Wreck

Earth's Biomes - TIME FOR KIDSEarth’s Biomes – TIME FOR KIDSMe on the MapMe on the Map
Follow That Map!: A First Book of Mapping SkillsFollow That Map!: A First Book of Mapping Skills

This book is available at Hoopla.
Our 50 States: A Family Adventure Across AmericaOur 50 States: A Family Adventure Across America

This books ia available on Hoopla.
Canadian Year: Twelve Months in the Life of Canada's Kids
Canadian Year: Twelve Months in the Life of Canada’s Kids

This book is free at the Open Library.
Off We Go to MexicoOff We Go to Mexico
Living in BrazilLiving in . . . Brazil: Ready-to-Read Level 2 
National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of the Rain ForestNational Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of the Rain Forest

This book is available at Hoopla.
Maisie McGillicuddy's Sheep Got MuddyMaisie McGillicuddy’s Sheep Got Muddy

This book is available from Kindle Unlimited.
The Magical Garden of Claude MonetThe Magical Garden of Claude Monet

This book is free at the Open Library.
KeeKee's Big Adventures in AmsterdamKeeKee’s Big Adventures in AmsterdamChildren of the Northlights
Reindeer: On the Move! (Penguin Young Readers, Level 4)A Walk in ParisA Walk in ParisNadia: The Girl Who Couldn't Sit StillNadia: The Girl Who Couldn’t Sit Still

This book is available at Hoopla.
Joseph Had a Little OvercoatJoseph Had a Little Overcoat (This story is based on a Yiddish song. The Yiddish were Jewish people living in Eastern Europe.)

This book is free at the Open Library.

The audiobook is available at Hoopla.
Living in . . . Russia: Ready-to-Read Level 2Living in . . . Russia: Ready-to-Read Level 2Babushka Baba Yaga

This book is free at the Open Library.

The Story of Peter TchaikovskyStory of Peter Tchaikovsky
Malala’s Magic PencilTiny Travelers Lebanon Treasure QuestTiny Travelers Lebanon Treasure QuestP Is for Poppadoms!: An Indian Alphabet BookP Is for Poppadoms!: An Indian Alphabet Book
Holi Hai
Holi Hai!

This book is available at Everand.
This book is available at Hoopla.
Lunar New Year (Celebrate the World)Lunar New Year (Celebrate the World)National Geographic Readers: Level 2 - PandasNational Geographic Readers: Level 2 – Pandas

This book is available at Hoopla.
Tiny Travelers China Treasure QuestTiny Travelers China Treasure QuestThe Empty PotThe Empty Pot

Life in the Gobi DesertLife in the Gobi Desert
Where's Halmoni?Where’s Halmoni?Living in . . . South Korea: Ready-to-Read Level 2Living in . . . South Korea: Ready-to-Read Level 2Japanese Traditions: Rice Cakes, Cherry Blossoms and Matsuri: A Year of Seasonal Japanese FestivitiesJapanese Traditions: Rice Cakes, Cherry Blossoms and Matsuri: A Year of Seasonal Japanese Festivities

This book is available at Hoopla.
Little One-Inch & Other Japanese Children's Favorite StoriesLittle One-Inch & Other Japanese Children’s Favorite Stories

This book is free at the Open Library.
This book is available at Hoopla.
I Live in Tokyo I Live in Tokyo The Most Beautiful ThingThe Most Beautiful Thing
*I love this book!

This book and the audiobook is available at Hoopla.
The book and audiobook are available at Everand. Click here for the book. Click here for the audiobook.
Nya's Long Walk: A Step at a TimeNya’s Long Walk: A Step at a TimeGo Wild! Lemurs

Note: On p. 28 the book states, “You know what else is a primate? You!” Creationists may want to explain that this is a scientific classification and doesn’t mean people are “related” to lemurs. This illustration explains the classification.
Beatrice's GoatBeatrice’s Goat
National Geographic Readers: Roar!National Geographic Readers: Roar!

This book is available at Hoopla.
Super Marsupials: Kangaroos, Koalas, Wombats, and MoreSuper Marsupials: Kangaroos, Koalas, Wombats, and More

This book is available at Hoopla.
Ohana Means FamilyOhana Means Family

This book is available at Hoopla with read along audio.

Unscheduled books

These books can be added in, if you wish. They are totally optional and are NOT scheduled in. Use them to replace scheduled books or to add extra reading, etc.

Enchantment of the World books

I really like the Enchantment of the World books. They have tons of photos that really give students an idea of what different countries are like. We used them in our homeschool. However, they are quite expensive. Most libraries have a copy, so if you can check one out for free (or borrow via the Open Library), then go ahead. Otherwise, skip them.

These books are just to browse through. Students don’t need to read anything other than what interests them (or they can just browse through the pictures).

You can purchase them directly from Scholastic by clicking here.

These copies are free at the Open Library (many are older editions, but still useable):

The Dominican Republic
Hong Kong
New Zealand
North Korea
United Arab Emirates
Amy Carmichael: Rescuer by Night (Trailblazers)
Want to add in a Christian component to your country studies? Trailblazer books have lots of missionary stories such as this one:
Amy Carmichael: Rescuer by Night (Trailblazers)

Click here to see a list of the other Trailblazer books on Amazon.

Another good series are the Christian Hereos: Then and Now series of books. Click here to see a list.

Christian Heroes: Then & Now
We used many of these books in our homeschool and enjoyed them!

Want books like these for the younger crowd? Click here to see the Christian Heroes for Young Readers series of books.
Christian Heroes for Young Readers
Pinecone hedgehog

The terrific materials listed above are for Guest Hollow’s Jr. Geography Curriculum! We invite you to check it out!
Thank You,
The Guest Family
© Guest Hollow, LLC

Guest Hollow's Jr. Geography and Cultures Curriculum

Guest Hollow’s Jr. Geography and Cultures Curriculum Schedule


We’ve hand-picked fantastic books, links, videos, and projects to take students on a journey around the world! Ignite your children’s curiosity, help them develop empathy and understanding for other cultures, and create treasured lifetime memories of your homeschool.

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