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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Language and Lands Beyond

The National Public Radio (NPR) program All Things Considered is a daily radio show that includes a lot of different perspectives on news, science, and the arts. Although meant primarily for adults, many middle school and high school students learn a lot -- including a lot of geography -- from the program. It has been archived online for several years, so searching the archives is a good way to find a radio story about almost any area of the world.

On November 29, the program included a lovely story about the 50th anniversary of a children's book that almost did not get published. As many adults now understand, most children love language and wordplay. When author Norton Juster and illustrator Jules Feiffer first offered The Phantom Tollbooth, however, publishers thought it was too sophisticated for children!

The book is known mainly for its fun with language and for the interactions between words and images. In the interview between Michelle Norris and Norton Juster, though, it is clear that this is also a great book for young geographers! Once Milo starts exploring the lands beyond the tollbooth, he cannot help but continue to explore more and more.

Members of the EarthView Team are like young Milo in the story. Among us, we have been to all the towns in Massachusetts, all the counties in New England (one of us has done that individually!), all fifty of the United States, and more than 60 countries around the world. To do this travel, we have learned languages, consulted maps, and sometimes just taken a chance to travel for no reason other than to see what was over the next horizon!

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