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Celebrate Geography Awareness Week with YA Literature

2013 November 21
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Happy Geography Awareness Week!

Geography Awareness Week, also known as GeoWeek, is an annual public awareness celebration organized by National Geographic Education Programs (NGEP).  This year the theme is Geography and the New Age of Exploration.

Geography plays an important role in many YA titles.  Whether it’s the futuristic Chicago in Veronica Roth’s Divergent series or modern day New York City in David Levithan and Rachel Cohn’s Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares, authors use geography and location in order to develop their worlds.  Road trip and travel stories, in particular, move their characters through their story lines by moving them around geographically.

In order to connect with the theme of the New Age of Exploration, I have selected two books, one domestic road trip and one international travel story, and created Google Maps of some of the important geographic landmarks in the stories.  These maps follow the journeys taking place on the page, providing a visual way to track the trips.

Heads up for those concerned about SPOILERS:  I tried to keep all plot spoilers to a minimum in my location notes, but I do highlight locations that are mentioned from the beginning to the end of each book.

Let’s start with our domestic road trip.  In Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson (2011 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2012 Popular Paperback for Young Adults), our characters goal is to get from Southern California to Connecticut.  They start out with a well planned itinerary from Amy’s mother, but very early into the trip, as the title implies, they decide to take advantage of the open road.

am_roger_epic_detour_map
View Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour Map in a larger map

Moving overseas, we have Maureen Johnson’s 13 Little Blue Envelopes (2006 Teens’ Top Ten, 2006 Best Book for Young Adults).  Ginny’s journey begins with a trip to New York City and then heads overseas where she travels around Europe based on the directions of her recently deceased aunt, left for her in a series of thirteen letters.  This map notes the major places Ginny visits on her adventures.

13lbe_map
View 13 Little Blue Envelopes Map in a larger map

Have you learned about geography from any YA titles?  Is there a book that you would like to see mapped out geographically?

- Jessica Lind, currently reading Catherine by April Lindner

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