Book Talk: Maps in Children's Books

Kat Savage

You know how books are. They have covers. You open them up, and there’s so much stuff before the story even starts. The copyright page, other books by the author, the dedication. Maybe there’s a table of contents or an epigraph or a... oh my gosh, could it be?… yes! Yes it’s a MAP!

Nothing says fantasy like a good map. Not all fantasy books have maps, and not all books with maps are fantasies. But when there is a map, I bookmark that page. In the midst of the tale, I turn back to it, squinting. If Ged has to get to Roke from Hort Town by sailing west, well, is that very far at all? When Milo gets stuck in the Doldrums, can I trace my finger along his likely escape route with Tock? And if Martin needs travel from Salamandastron to the River Moss, would he turn north or south?

And after reading these stories, I’d create my own -- complete with their own maps. Sometimes the map would come before the story. Sometimes I’d make a map with a friend, passing it between us as we added fierce mountain ranges, lazy rivers, bustling towns, haunted forests… and on and on.

Below are some of our all-time favorite books, and the maps of their worlds as they appear on their pages.


Book Cover: The lion, the witch and the wardrobe
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Book 2 of the Chronicles of Narnia) by C. S. Lewis
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Also available in:

This was the first book C.S. Lewis wrote in his timeless Chronicles of Narnia, and in it you can see many lands that will be depicted later in the stories. Plus, maps aren’t just about places and features, but are about their design and style, too! Do you see the arrow in “The Bight of Calormen?”

Map of Narnia
Map of Narnia


Book Cover: Mossflower
Mossflower (from the "Redwall" series) by Brian Jacques
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The Redwall series spans generations of woodland mice and their friends and foes. This map doesn’t just show the lay of the land, but also references certain events in the story, like a battle that takes place on the seashore, as well as the route that the main character, Martin the Warrior, follows on his quest.

Map of Mossflower Country


Book Cover: A Wizard of Earthsea
A Wizard of Earthsea (Book 1 of the Earthsea Cycle) by Ursula K. Le Guin
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Earthsea is a land comprised of many, many, many islands -- too many to count! (There is one area called “The Ninety Isles.”) Fortunately, as you join the young wizard Ged on his sailing journey, detailed maps will appear in the course of the story, like this one of the Kargad Lands and their neighbors.

Map of The Kargad Lands


Book Cover: The Phantom Tollbooth
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, illustrated by Jules Feiffer
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The map is one of the items that Milo receives when he first sets out on his journey Beyond Expectations. My favorite locations? The Island of Conclusions, Point of View, and the scary Mountains of Ignorance.

Map of The Lands Beyond


Book Cover: Sabriel
Sabriel (Book 1 of the Abhorsen Trilogy) by Garth Nix
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Also available in:

Ancelstierre is a land not unlike our own, but the Old Kingdom is filled with magic and danger. Sabriel must travel from her boarding school in Wyverly, across the border wall, and far north to Belisaere to rescue her father, Abhorsen. This map has a scale: can you work out how many miles she must travel?

Map of Ancelstierre and the Old Kingdom


Book Cover: Through the Looking-Glass (and What Alice Found There)
Through the Looking-Glass (and What Alice Found There) by Lewis Carroll (sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)
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Multiple editions available:

Wait, is a board game diagram a map? Hmm... what do you think?



Book Cover: Winnie-the-Pooh
Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne
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Book Cover: The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh
The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh by Kathryn Aalto
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The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh contains photographs and illustrations from the real places that inspired the Hundred Acre Wood!

Map of the Hundred Acre Wood


Book Cover: How I Learned Geography
How I Learned Geography by Uri Shulevitz
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Video: How I Learned Geography via Storyline Online
Although the Brooklyn Public Library does not have an ebook copy on loan for this book (print version linked above), we wanted to include a reading by Ed O’Neill (Modern Family, Married... with Children) who partnered with Reading is Fundamental to read you this treasure, accompanied by Uri Shulevitz’s own wonderful illustrations from the book.

This picture book is based on Uri Shulevitz’s own life experience as a refugee whose father brought home a map instead of food. You’ll recognize this map-- it’s Earth as we know it-- and Uri learns to pretend to travel the globe, feeding himself in an unconventional way, with his imagination.


Book Cover: The Spiderwick Chronicles
The Field Guide (Book 1 of the Spiderwick Chronicles) by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
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Comments: It all starts when Jared Grace has moved to his new house, The Spiderwick Estate, and finds his great uncle's book, 'Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastic World Around You' that he and his siblings realize that they are not home alone. This map is filled with teasers into the mysterious fairy adventures the Grace kids will find. (I recommend staying away from the nearby river.) 

Map of Spiderwick Estate


Feeling inspired? Try our Summer Reading Week 2 Challenge and draw your own Fantasy Map! In the video below, Librarian Danielle shares her Fantasy Map along with a few tips. Once you've created your own, be sure to share it on Beanstack to earn your Summer Reading challenge badge! 


This blog post reflects the opinions of the author and does not necessarily represent the views of Brooklyn Public Library.


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