Here’s a quick geography lesson: What’s the capital of Missouri? If you immediately thought Jefferson City, you obviously got all the stickers in Social Studies. For those who thought St. Louis, don’t take it too hard, barely half of American Millennials can point out New York on a map. Who needs to know anything about geography when Google Earth lives in your pocket — is what someone who didn’t place importance on a well-rounded education would say. Save your kids from a future where nobody knows if Nebraska is above or below Kansas, and put The 50 States children’s atlas in their room.
Crammed full of facts, figures and icons of U.S. history, the book features bright, stylized illustrated maps and infographics that cover the continental United States, as well as bonus states Alaska and Hawaii. Teach them the story of the John Muir Trail! The significance of Fort Sumter! The birthplace of Bruce Lee! Author Gabrielle Balkan makes a point of highlighting more than just what the state tourism bureau puts in its brochures. After all, if you’ve seen one Civil War battlefield, you’ve seen them all. (They look like fields.)
Your kid’s AP History teacher will be impressed, because this is also a 2016 Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, a nice honor with the world’s squarest title. And while most history books talk about a bunch of dead white people, reviewers applaud Balkan’s pointed inclusion of minorities and women in its quirky trivia. Like, did you know that Yamacraw chief Tomochichi, author Flannery O’Connor, and singer Little Richard were all Georgia natives? That kind of information is priceless … at bar trivia night.
The 50 States by Gabrielle Balkan ($21)