Exploration Near and Far | Landmarks & Locations Series Nonfiction

The latest landmarks and locations series provide enchanting sights and facts for readers. Most offer detailed text supplemented with colorful photographs to help readers build vocabulary and make connections.


The latest landmarks and locations series provide enchanting sights and facts for readers. Most offer detailed text supplemented with colorful photographs to help readers build vocabulary and make connections. Descriptions of the various landscapes, wildlife, culture, and people make each place engaging. Those who enjoy an adventure through reading can experience new places and people. Between hands-on activities and online resources, readers will also learn that many cultures and landscapes exist on the same continent and that different landmarks and countries are visited by millions of people every year. Below are 10 series that will spark curiosity about the places around the world.



Dickmann, Nancy. Your Passport to Argentina. ISBN 9781496695383.
––––. Your Passport to Guatemala. ISBN 9781496695505.
––––. Your Passport to Italy. ISBN 9781496695512.
––––. Your Passport to South Korea. ISBN 9781496695536.
––––. Your Passport to Sri Lanka. ISBN 9781496695543.
––––. Your Passport to Turkey. ISBN 9781496695550.
ea vol: 32p. (World Passport). Capstone. Jan. 2021. Tr. $29.32.
Gr 3-5 –As with past titles, this series places readers directly in the country they are “visiting.” Each book has six chapters of varying lengths and describes daily life, history, religion, and landscape through photographs accompanied by multiple paragraphs. Maps are used to orient readers as to where the country can be found and sidebar infographics give a better sense of important facts. A recipe is shared along with popular sports, endangered animals like the elephants of Sri Lanka ( Your Passport to Sri Lanka), and which popular landforms can be found there. While the overall design of the series is the same for every country, it does not distract from the amount of information provided. The final pages include a glossary and further reading that can be found online or in a book. VERDICT Still a good introductory series for mid-elementary readers interested in exploring the world.

Farley, Taylor. At the Pond. ISBN 9781427129536.
––––. My Town Helpers. ISBN 9781427129581.
Kelly, Miranda. My Home in the City. ISBN 9781427129567.
––––. Playground Kindness. ISBN 9781427129598.
––––. When I Go to the Beach. ISBN 9781427129604.
––––. When I Go to the Zoo, What Do I See? ISBN 9781427129628.
Silverman, Buffy. Hometown Fire Department. ISBN 9781427129543.
Walker, Alan. Hometown Police. ISBN 9781427129550.
––––. My Local Hospital. ISBN 9781427129574.
––––. When I Go to the Grocery Store. ISBN 9781427129611.
ea vol: 24p. (In My Community). Crabtree/Crabtree Seedlings. Jan. 2021. Tr. $23.
PreS-Gr 1 –Meant for new readers, these books feature large photographs of real people with simple sentences that offer introductory information about different places in our community. Each title tells readers about expected behavior in the place, what and who can be found there, and why those places exist in our community. For example, Playground Kindness shows the manners kids should have when playing with others, while Hometown Fire Department teaches readers what firefighters do for our community. While there are vocabulary words in bold, the glossary and index are better for a caregiver or educator to use. The final page offers suggestions to educators and caregivers for before, during, and after reading questions to ask new readers. VERDICT A quick choice for a class read-aloud, field trip preparation, or introduction to places in our communities.

London, Martha. Arches National Park. ISBN 9781532192838.
––––. Cave of Crystals. ISBN 9781532192845.
––––. Giant’s Causeway. ISBN 9781532192852.
––––. Grand Canyon. ISBN 9781532192869.
––––. Great Barrier Reef. ISBN 9781532192876.
––––. The Great Blue Hole. ISBN 9781532192883.
––––. Mount Everest. ISBN 9781532192890.
––––. Uluru. ISBN 9781532192906.
ea vol: 32p. (Engineered by Nature). ABDO/Kids Core. Dec. 2020. Tr. $31.36.
Gr 3-4 –Each title explores natural creations of the world. Three chapters of eight pages long contain a page of text with a corresponding colorful photograph sometimes alongside a sidebar fact or labeled diagram. Primary sources about the natural attraction are included with critical thinking questions, and suggestions for further research are provided via online resources to connect to the chapter readings. The final pages include a map of where the landform can be found, glossary, further reading material, and index. The geographic information of each landform and its importance in culture, such as the rock formation Uluru to the Anangu people ( Uluru) is described with care. While not every reader has the ability to do the online activities, they give students another way to connect to the text and do research using primary and secondary sources. VERDICT A well-rounded introduction to using resources and to the naturally engineered wonders on Earth.

Peters, Katie. Communities Then and Now. ISBN 9781541590151.
––––. Rural Places. ISBN 9781541590137.
––––. Suburban Places. ISBN 9781541590144.
––––. Urban Places. ISBN 9781541590120.
ea vol: 16p. (My Community: Pull Ahead Readers — Nonfiction). Lerner. Jan. 2021. Tr. $22.65.
PreS-Gr 1 –These titles offer new readers short sentences every other page against full-page colorful photos. The text is large and easy to read in black and circled by white, so the picture doesn’t obscure the words. Each title takes readers to different places and shows who and what can be found there. Most are self-explanatory, such as Rural Places showing readers what can be found on a farm, while Communities Then and Now shows what is currently in a location and describes via text what was there in the past. While every title is short, each allows students to practice reading. The final pages include an activity of “Did you see it?” and an index. VERDICT Great for beginning readers who like nonfiction topics.

Scragg, Hailey. Abandoned Places. ISBN 9781731643315.
––––. Mysterious Locations. ISBN 9781731643322.
––––. Places of Legend. ISBN 9781731643339.
––––. Underground Cities. ISBN 9781731643308.
ea vol: 32p. (Hidden, Lost, and Discovered). Rourke/Escape. Jan. 2021. Tr. $28.50.
Gr 3-4 –This series chronicles mysterious places throughout the world. Each title starts with a table of contents and a color-contrasting map that labels the places covered within the text. Short paragraphs in black are placed on full-page photographs, where each section’s color theme corresponds to color on the first map. Within each book are sidebar facts and vocabulary words defined on the same page on which they are used. Connecting past cultures, abandoned places, legends, and underground cities allows readers to see history frozen in time, such as the ghost town in Bodie, CA ( Abandoned Places). Although more could be written for each of the locations discussed, the series offers intrigue in an easily read format, taking time to show the many questions the past has left behind. The back matter includes a memory game, index, after reading questions, and an activity. VERDICT A fun resource for mid-elementary readers who need a spark of curiosity about the world.

Spanier, Kristine. Big Ben. ISBN 9781645277279.
––––. Colosseum. ISBN 9781645277293.
––––. Eiffel Tower. ISBN 9781645277354.
––––. Great Wall of China. ISBN 9781645277385.
––––. Machu Picchu. ISBN 9781645277415.
––––. Parthenon. ISBN 9781645277446.
––––. Petra. ISBN 9781645277477.
––––. Taj Mahal. ISBN 9781645277507.
ea vol: 24p. (Whole Wide World). Jump!/Pogo. Jan. 2021. Tr. $26.99.
Gr 2-4 –This series remains well organized and colorful as it highlights landmarks around the world. Each has about three chapters of six pages long with full-page pictures that accompany short paragraphs throughout. The beginning of each title includes before, during, and after reading questions for caregivers and educators to ask children. Labeled pictures, bold vocabulary words, diagrams, and sidebar facts make the new information engaging. Although some of the full-page pictures are cut in half by a color block that has a small paragraph, this helps each title remain accessible. The series takes a look at the history of each landmark and how we interact with the historical places today. The books end with quick facts and tools, a glossary, index, and how to learn more. VERDICT ­Accessible introductory landmark information for elementary school readers.


Upper Elementary to Middle School

Coleman, Miriam. The Geography of Europe. ISBN 9781725321984.
––––. The Geography of Southwest Asia and North Africa. ISBN 9781725322066.
Harts, Shannon H. The Geography of Australia and the Pacific Realm. ISBN 9781725322226.
Keppeler, Jill. The Geography of Sub-Saharan Africa. ISBN 9781725322103.
––––. The Geography of the United States and Canada. ISBN 9781725321908.
Machajewski, Sarah. The Geography of East and Southeast Asia. ISBN 9781725322189.
Mikoley, Kate. The Geography of Latin America. ISBN 9781725321946.
Morlock, Rachael. The Geography of South Asia. ISBN 9781725322141.
Wolf, Ryan. The Geography of Russia and the Eurasian Republics. ISBN 9781725322028.
ea vol: 32p. (Explore the World). Rosen/PowerKids. Jan. 2021. Tr. $26.25.
Gr 5 Up –Each title in this series familiarizes readers with geography around the world. The sections are two pages in length and focus on known landforms, unknown features, the people who live there, and the climate. Using longer paragraphs, multiple maps, sidebar facts about the culture, and “think like a geographer” snapshots, the books provide a lot of information in a short time. Although there are fewer pictures than in similar titles, the photographs are vivid and bring the text to life for readers, especially when talking about climate change and the negative effects of humans on the land. While the amount of information can be overwhelming, each section/chapter is short and can be read little by little. The final pages include a glossary of vocabulary not already defined within the text, further reading suggestions, and an index. VERDICT A solid introductory geography series for middle school students or educators filling gaps within this topic.

Golkar, Golriz. Honduras. ISBN 9781644874486.
––––. Madagascar. ISBN 9781644874493.
––––. Turkey. ISBN 9781644874523.
Klepeis, Alicia Z. Nepal. ISBN 9781644874509.
––––. New Zealand. ISBN 9781644874516.
––––. Ukraine. ISBN 9781644874530.
ea vol: 32p. (Country Profiles). Bellwether/Blastoff! Discovery. Jan. 2021. Tr. $26.95.
Gr 3-5 –These titles enlighten readers about the respective country featured. Each section is two pages long, first describing the country from the perspective of a tourist, then presenting the history, climate, wildlife, sports, and traditions through colorful photographs and corresponding short paragraphs. Infographics and maps are used for sidebar facts, such as famous people who hail from the title country. The series allows for a broad overview of each country. Recipes are shared in each title, such as Nepali Dal (Nepal), along with an activity to connect students further to the text, such as creating a flower garland (Ukraine). The material is not overwhelming, since the sections are short. The final pages include a basic pictured time line of the country, quick two-page profile, glossary, further reading suggestions, and an index. VERDICT A good introductory series for older elementary readers interested in exploring the world or working on a school project.

Hamby, Rachel. Peru’s Rainbow Mountain. ISBN 9781532169212.
––––. Poland’s Crooked Forest. ISBN 9781532169229.
Hutchison, Patricia. Australia’s Pink Lakes. ISBN 9781532169168.
––––. Maldives’ Sea of Stars. ISBN 9781532169182.
––––. Yellowstone’s Boiling River. ISBN 9781532169236.
Lilley, Matt. Minnesota’s Devil’s Kettle. ISBN 9781532169199.
––––. Namibia’s Fairy Circles. ISBN 9781532169205.
Vilardi, Debbie. China’s Tianzi Mountain. ISBN 9781532169175.
ea vol: 32p. (Nature’s Mysteries). ABDO/DiscoverRoo. Dec. 2020. Tr. $29.93.
Gr 3-5 –This series acquaints readers with the wondrous mysteries that occur in nature around the world. The books have four chapters of six pages each, and include a QR code with extra content and activities, full-page captioned photographs matched with a paragraph, and fun fact sidebars. Vocabulary words are bold and in another color, diagrams break down scientific information, and maps mark where the natural occurrence is found. The text paired with vivid photographs will spark curiosity, although the mystery of each location in nature will make readers want more answers, such why pink lakes exist (Australia’s Pink Lakes). Along with the “making connections” section, glossary, and index, the QR codes within the text will give students, educators, and caregivers more to work with. VERDICT Curiosity sparking series that introduces the beautiful irregularities in nature; great for reluctant mid-elementary readers, but requires internet access if wanting to explore the 4-D features.


Upper Middle School to High School

Huddleston, Emma. Central America. ISBN 9781644933985.
Jopp, Kelsey Jopp. Africa. ISBN 9781644933961.
London, Martha. Asia. ISBN 9781644933978.
––––. The Middle East. ISBN 9781644934005.
––––. North America. ISBN 9781644934012.
––––. Oceania. ISBN 9781644934029.
MacCarald, Clara. Europe. ISBN 9781644933992.
Regan, Michael. South America. ISBN 9781644934036.
ea vol: 48p. (World Studies). North Star Editions/Focus Readers. Jan. 2021. Tr. $31.35.
Gr 6 Up –This series presents information on the different geographic regions of Earth. Seven chapters of varying lengths contain mostly text with appropriate pictures, art, maps, and diagrams throughout. The title starts by identifying where the region is and what countries can be found there. Each then goes through the history, language, geography, climate, and wildlife, along with government and politics. Every title has a chapter that describes a few of the cultures and customs found in the region, along with the devastating effect of colonization, such as the enslavement of Oceania’s people by Europeans (Oceania). Although the amount of information could be overwhelming for readers, the text provides a good base for information on the various regions. The back matter includes questions about the text, a glossary, further reading, and an index. VERDICT A good starting point for student projects, but not meant to be the only resource.

Many of the series above are high-quality introductory reads with brightly colored photographs, short chapters, and skill-building material. For beginning readers, “My Community: Pull Ahead Readers — Nonfiction” (Lerner) and “In My Community” (Crabtree/Crabtree Seedlings) gently introduce places where they may live or visit, while “Hidden, Lost, and Discovered” (Rourke/Escape) shows older readers places people have lived and what they left behind. Many describe the various landscapes and landmarks tourists are known to frequent, and “Engineered by Nature” (ABDO/Kids Core) naturally leads to “Nature’s Mysteries” (ABDO/DiscoverRoo), allowing readers to figuratively visit each location. Readers or educators wanting profiles of countries will like the aptly named “Country Profiles” (Bellwether/Blastoff! Discovery), “Whole Wide World” (Jump!/Pogo), and “World Passport” (Capstone). The next level of readers who enjoy geography will find “Explore the World” (Rosen/PowerKids) enticing for its information and photos, while “World Studies” (North Star Editions/Focus Readers) shows the region’s landscape is as diverse as the culture in each place.

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