Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Using Maps in the Elementary Classroom to Teach History with Literature

Plots and Plats:  Mapping Children’s Literature Books

The Ball State University Libraries’ GIS Research and Map Collection (GRMC) is creating maps based on children’s books.  The GRMC is collaborating with Dr. Dorshell Stewart’s social studies elementary teaching methods classes this summer to create unique maps based on popular children’s books.  The maps can enhance the stories and teach more about the places and events related to the books.

Students in the Social Science 397 class select a youth book, many available in the Educational Technology and Resources Collection in the lower level of Bracken Library.  The students create lesson plans based on the book, and part of the lesson must incorporate the use of a map.  The staff of the GRMC assist students creating unique maps related to the book.

One student created a map based on the book When Marian Sang by Brian Selznick and Pam Munoz Ryan.  The map identifies the cities where Marian Anderson sang, with the highlight concert at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939.  Salt in His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream by Deloris Jordan is another book selected for the project.  A simple map was created of the United States marking the locations of Chicago, Illinois, and North Carolina. 

Large copies of the maps can be printed using the plotter in the GRMC on the second floor of Bracken Library.  Then the students can use the maps in their classrooms when they become teachers.

The GRMC is creating maps for the project and adding the maps to the Libraries’ Collection.  The latest map (above, click to enlarge) created by the GRMC for the series is based on the book Ruth and the Green Book by Calvin Alexander Ramsey.  The book tells the story of the “Green Books” used by African-American travelers during the time of segregation.  The Negro Travelers’ Green Book was published by Victor Green beginning in 1936 and ending in 1964 with the passage of the Civil Rights Act.  These guide books listed restaurants, hotels, and other services that were available for Blacks when traveling across the country during the era of Jim Crow laws.

 The New York Public Library has a collection of the books available from their Digital Collections.  And the University of South Carolina has an interactive online map based on the establishments listed in the 1956 book.  The GRMC used this edition of the book to create a map marking the locations of the cities that had at least one restaurant, hotel, or other business listed in the Green Book, a little known part of Indiana and Black history.  And photographs from the Digital Media Repository were included on the map.

The map is available in digital format from the Ball State University Libraries’ Cardinal Scholar, and the original paper map may be circulated from the GRMC.  (The digital map includes hyperlinks to the New York Public Library Digital Collections set of Green Books and to the University of South Carolina online interactive map of the 1956 Green Book).

The GRMC has included other books and maps related to Indiana in commemoration of the state’s Bicentennial this year.  The GRMC has created maps based on books about Amelia Earhart and her connection to the state, astronaut Gus Grissom, and the Marquis de Lafayette.  And the map, Wheels: Indiana Bicycle Manufacturers, 1889-1900, identifies the Indiana cities with bicycle factories during the time of its popular craze at the turn of the 20th century.  This map is related to the popular children’s book, Tillie the Terrible Swede: How One Woman, a Sewing Needle, and a Bicycle Changed History by Sue Stauffacher.

Other maps in the children’s book series include maps about Babe Ruth, Sojourner Truth, Jesse Owens, Japanese internment camps, First Ladies of the United States, and the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

For more information about creating custom maps for education and learning, please contact the GRMC at 765-285-1097.

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