It's not often that I find a homeschool book that Stephen gets excited about!!! And to find a geography related one that he likes is even more rare. (He majored in geography and loves maps, but thinks most geography books miss the magic and fun in geography.)
Then "The Little Man in the Map" by E. Andrew Martonyi made his appearance. This book is a gem!!! I started to read it and soon had two boys learning in front of me to see the pictures, so I told them they could read it first. They looked through it together and then Ryan took it into the family room where Stephen was watching football. Stephen asked to look at it, then started reading it, and didn't give it back to Ryan until he'd finished.
Ryan (8) and Tyler (6) read through it a few times just for fun. Then at dinner, Texas was mentioned. Tyler pipes up, "I know where Texas is, it's the chair," and he turned around to the map on the wall and pointed it out. Then he added, "And this one is Oklahoma." Both boys then started pointing out different states and telling us what they were called and why they were important to "the man in the map". I hid the book for a week and then asked Tyler again about some of the states and he still remembered most of them by name. I was very impressed-- it had been so easy, no drill or practicing and he'd learned basic US geography!!
The "Man In the Map" is formed by five states down the middle of the United States - Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana. (Once you "see" him, the US will never look the same!) All of the other states are given roles that connect them to the man in the map. The story is told with simple rhyming verses and bright, lively illustrations. The US map is broken into regions - Midwest, Southeast, Southwest, Northeast and West that would be easy to elaborate on for older students.
The book is sold through Schoolside Press http://www.schoolsidepress.com/ for $19.95. They have free shipping and the author will sign and inscribe your book for free as well. Get it for a Christmas present and your kids won't even realize they are learning!!!!