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Kids Learn America! Bringing Geography to Life with People, Places and History Review by Cindy West

Patricia Gordon and Reed C. Snow
Williamson Books
535 Metroplex Drive, Suite 250
Nashville, TN 37211

Kids Learn America! is a wonderful resource for learning fun facts about each of our 50 states, plus Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It brings each state to life for the elementary student by introducing geography, famous people, famous places, and notable history.

The book is arranged by regions, with a map of the entire region supplied at the beginning of the section. There are two to four pages of information given for all 50 states and the U.S. territories. For each state, there are fun questions and challenges that the child should be able to answer after completing the reading.

A small map of the United States is included on the first page to show where the state is located in our country, and a slightly larger map shows the state in detail. Important cities, sites and rivers are marked on the state map. You'll even find a reproducible blank map of the United States at the beginning of the book.

Information and activities vary from state to state, but there are some commonalities among all of them. "Lights, Camera, Action" offers word pictures to help children memorize capital cities, while "Map Talk" teaches them about general features of maps. A "Who? What? When? Where?" section asks four interesting questions about the state for children to try to answer before looking at the answer given on the page.

Other informational sections that may or may not be found with each state include such titles as "Pack Your Bags" and "Did You Know?" which teach interesting places and facts about the state. Famous people and events are often highlighted, along with fun facts that will make children smile. For some states, you'll even find recipes, experiments and/or hands-on activities to try.

Each page includes black-and-white illustrations that add interest, as well as picture directions for some of the activities.

Parents will find many ideas for teaching, but older elementary students can enjoy going through the book on their own. It's somewhat of a lighthearted view of our country's geography and important facts, but it successfully gets the information across to children. If you're hoping to find a complete and thorough history of a particular state, this book probably won't provide as much as you need. If, however, you're looking for a brief overview of important facts, this book should fit the bill.

Product review by Cindy West, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, April 2009