NOTE TO TEACHERSTeachers know that biographies are great learning tools. Teachers also know that many students, when presented with a biography, often discount them out of hand. So, how can teachers get this important material into the hands (and brains) of their students?
The answer is easy: Landmark Books
. Since 1950, Landmark has offered young readers biographies that are well-written, informative, and fun. Interesting details and anecdotes help students to identify with each historical figure as a real person—one who encounters challenges, celebrates accomplishments, and endures hardships. By reading books in the Landmark series, students will not only deepen their understanding for and appreciation of history, but may very well develop a new love for biographies.
The following books are also in this guide:Meet George Washington
Meet Thomas Jefferson
Meet Abraham LincolnMeet Martin Luther King, Jr.
ABOUT THIS BOOK
In this compelling story of the world’s most famous explorer, readers will sail along with Columbus on his dangerous and thrilling journey of discovery and adventure. Meet Christopher Columbus
tells the tale of a man who, through perseverance and courage, changed the course of history.
By the time Christopher Columbus was 25 years old, he had sailed to all major ports on the Mediterranean Sea. Introduce the geography of the Mediterranean region by having students “explore” the countries that border this historic body of water. First, show students a map of the Mediterranean Sea and have them locate all of the countries that lie on it. Show students how to use the scale to determine the distance Columbus sailed from Italy to Portugal.•
During his voyage across the Western Ocean, Columbus kept a journal of his experiences. Have students set a goal that they would like to accomplish over the course of the school year. Each day or week, have students write about their experiences in trying to accomplish this goal.•
Columbus was fascinated with the adventures of the Italian explorer Marco Polo. Have students read biographies about Marco Polo and recreate his route on a world map.
DISCUSSION AND WRITING•
Columbus kept two separate journals during his first voyage: one with accurate facts and figures, and another with false information which he shared with his crew. Do you think Columbus was right in giving his men false information? Why or why not?•
When Columbus landed in what he thought were the Indies, he claimed the land as the property of Spain. Do you think Columbus had the right to do this? How do you think the native peoples felt about Columbus and his crew inhabiting their land?
SUGGESTED ACTIVITIESusing biographies in the classroom
• Build biography into every unit of the curriculum. For example, if students are learning about time, have them read about Albert Einstein. If students are studying Black history, have them read about Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King, Jr.
• Start a biography-of-the-month book club. Each month, students can choose a biography to read and report on. At the end of the year, bind each student’s reports into a book.
• Have a “living history” day where students come to school dressed like a person they have read about. Each student will have a chance to “address” the class in character.
VOCABULARYHave students find, define, and discuss the following words:
(p. 2), Arabs
(p. 9), voyage
(p. 14), advisors
(p. 14), heartbroken
(p. 17), shabby
(p. 18), messenger
(p. 20), rudder
(p. 26), briskly
(p. 29), and wreck
BEYOND THE BOOKEnhanced Learning
This site includes background information on Columbus’s four voyages to the new world, as well as printable maps and activity pages on the explorer.Ibiblio
This is the companion Web site to the Library of Congress’s exhibit 1492: An Ongoing Voyage.
ABOUT THIS GUIDE
Guide prepared by Colleen Carroll, Education Consultant, Curriculum
Writer, and Children’s Book Author, Sleepy Hollow, NY.
Random House Children’s Books • School and Library Marketing
1745 Broadway, 10-4, New York, NY 10019 • BN0606 • 12/06
Download a PDF of the Teacher's Guide