♫♪ “I’m the Map, I’m the Map, I’m the Map!” ♫♪
“Mommy, what is the Map do?”
It was a rainy Sunday afternoon in Edmonton and at my three year old’s request we were watching Dora The Explorer.
“Uh, a map tells you where to go.” I blurt out as I let the dog in from the back yard and try to catch her with a towel before she traced mud all over the house. Our day continued in the normal way of snacks, playing, supper, more snacks, more playing until finally the tiny humans were asleep for the night.
As I normally do in the quiet of the evenings, I replayed the day’s activities in my mind. When I came to my answer about what a map does I thought a bit more about my answer and begin to question myself. Is that the right answer? Did I just lie to my son? Will he be forever scarred because I told him the wrong thing about a map?!
Before I engulfed myself in mom guilt I realized that I knew just the person to ask about maps, my colleague at Cameron Library and Maps Assistant, Bonnie Gallinger. I thought about the William C. Wonders Map Collection at Cameron Library and how there must be more things that maps can do. I mean students and members of the public come to Cameron to use the map collection all the time.
At work on Monday I contacted Bonnie and the Maps Librarian, Larry Laliberte about my blurting out a random thing about maps to my son and asked what else a map can do.
Larry’s response was quick and full of resources for me to teach my son about maps as well as some history on the collection that lives in on the 4th floor of my work home. Larry’s top recommendations for books that teach children about maps are The map that came to life, Here we are, Junior Atlas of Alberta and Looking at maps, where the latter was written by none other than THE William C. Wonders that our map collection is named after and his partner and award winning cartographer Lillian J. Wonders. I placed a hold on all of these recommendations right away and dove right into the old Folio article about the collection that he sent me. WOW! It’s the largest academic map collection in Canada with over 460 000 maps, 5 000 atlases, about 1 million aerial photos, 600 gazetteers and globes! A map of The Marvelous Land of OZ, Narnia and the Surrounding Countries and a hockey map of Canada Oh my!
Bonnie gave me many great atlas recommendations to teach my son about maps. Bonnie’s recommendations were Children Map of the World (volumes 1 & 2) , Journeys of the Imagination, The Natures of Maps and Great Maps. Bonnie has a succinct message about maps for children. She says. “Maps can show you where you are and where you have been. Maps show you where things are, how far away and which direction they are in.”
Bonnie suggested an exercise to do with my son: Show him a map and ask simple questions like why do you think the field is green and the lake is blue? Or even just point out where things are on the map like the playground, your house or his daycare. “This activity could take up at least an hour after supper!” I thought. Excited at the thought of spending an hour of non-screen time that night I got a map of Edmonton from the William C Wonders Map Collection. That night my son and I played with the map I brought home for about 10 minutes which felt like an hour. I’m still going to count it as a win.
Discover the world of ‘wonders’ that awaits you at the William C. Wonders Collection on the 4th floor of Cameron Library. Also, for the month of August a carefully curated selection of atlases are on display on Cameron Library’s main floor as well.