Hope your school year is off to a great start! Below, you'll find a list of resources which offer background information in a variety of formats about the geography, history, and culture of New York City. We hope these highlights get your second graders thinking about their community, New York City, and maybe even a bit beyond. Feedback is greatly appreciated. Feel free to leave comments and suggestions below!
There are so many places to visit during a unit on geography! For international exploration, try National Geographic’s Beginners World Atlas. For journeys closer to home, National Geographic Kids Beginner’s United States Atlas is also a good bet.
Kingfisher’s guide to Maps and Mapping is an informative overview to some map basics.
Earth Matters' Maps is a compact bilingual resource for beginning readers. Vivid photographs and diagrams accompany the concise text. A glossary of “challenge words” is included.
Maps and Globes is an oldie but goodie. Sabrina Crewe’s introduction to a variety of maps is accessible and well illustrated. Her explanations on why and how to use a map are especially appreciated.
Map Parts and Reading Maps may also be helpful teaching tools.
In Front of My House by Marianne Dubuc. This delightful, beautifully illustrated picture book invites children on a prepositional journey all around, above, and outside the imaginative main character's house. The story is filled with popular story book characters and companions from the animal kingdom and beyond. This is a great read aloud to get students thinking creatively about where they live and what is around their house.
Follow That Map! A First Book of Mapping Skills. Sally and her friends explain the different kinds of maps and how they can be helpful in our everyday lives.
For New York City-specific books, check out:
How the Sphinx Got to the Museum by Jesse Hartland. Answer this and other questions about ancient Egypt, archaeology, and what is involved in getting artifacts to museums.
City Hawk The Story of Pale Male by Meghan McCarthy, and The Tale of Pale Male by Jeanette Winter are both wonderful stories about the Red-tailed Hawks that call NYC home.
The Tree by Karen Gray Ruelle. Follow the saga of a 250 year old tree in Madison Square Park. This is a great read aloud to teach students how communities change over time.
Wow! New York City is an artistic introduction to some of NYC's favorite sites.
Chinatown by William Low takes students on a tour of Chinatown on New Year's Day, and Roseanne Thong's Gai See: What You Can See in Chinatown will pique curiosity and get students thinking about the kind of markets they visit.
The poetry in Harlem by Walter Dean Myers may be a bit sophisticated for second graders, but with a bit of teacher-provided context, this could be a fantastic read aloud.
Exploring Communities and Geography is a DVD on how geography affects how people live.
Find child-friendly articles, books, and activities through Searchasaurus, a database accessible at NYPL. This easy-to-use resources is great for teachers and students. Search results can be limited by Lexile score, topic area, and format.