One of the ten Common Core Anchor Standards for Reading is to “integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words” (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.R.7). In addition to illustrations and diagrams, looking at maps can fulfill this Common Core State Standard. Not only does map-reading further a students’ comprehension of nonfiction informational texts, this skill is also helpful for social studies and history lessons.
All maps provide information, but their specific function within a book depends on the textual context. Understanding these different functions will allow you, as an educator, to effectively discuss why an author decided to include a map and how a map brings important information to the text.
Maps support an argument.
Wolves in the Wild, a nonfiction book from the Story World Real World series, argues that hunters threaten the future of wolves (7). This textual claim is supported by a map showing where “wolves used to live” (red) and where “wolves live” today (green). This visual evidence allows students to immediately understand that the wolf habitat is shrinking. Thus, the map strengthens an argument that is made through the text.
Maps express diversity.
Breakfast Around the World opens with a two-page world map. The map is labeled with different breakfasts explained in the book. By pinpointing each breakfast on the same map, students can understand that these dishes really come from different corners of the world. A world map also encourage students to locate themselves and understand their geographic position relative to the children features in this book.
Maps explain history.
Anne Frank from the Hameray Biography series features a map of Germany and its surrounding countries (12). The map provides a visual aid for understanding that the Nazis crossed a border to invade the Netherlands, where Anne Frank lived with her family.
Maps provide information on different scales.
Nelson Mandela’s biography contains multiple maps. First, a map of Africa explains South Africa’s location within the continent (4). Then, a second map zooms in to focus on the country of South Africa and its major cities (13). Although both maps include South Africa, the first map provides a global context while the second focuses on the cities within the nation. Emphasize to your students that each map carries a certain perspective and scale.
Exposing your students to different maps is the key to honing their map-reading skills. Maps don’t just serve a purpose for geography and history lessons—they fulfill Common Core Reading Standards, too!
Click the left image below to learn more about Story World Real World, which contains Wolves in the Wild and Breakfast Around the World. Click the middle image to download a Teacher's Guide for Anne Frank. Click the right image to download a Teacher's Guide for Nelson Mandela.