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Exploring the World with Literature (Grades 4-7): Europe

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Introduction to Continent

Europe is the sixth largest continent. It is bordered on the north by the Arctic Ocean, on the east by Asia, on the south by the Mediterranean Sea, and on the west by the Atlantic Ocean. It comprises fifty countries, but two countries, Russia and Turkey, are partly in Europe and partly in Asia. European countries are of diverse backgrounds and cultures. What is true of one or more countries may not be true of some others. For example, the way in which countries are governed varies from one to another.

More than 820 million people live in Europe and they speak many different languages. Not only are many languages spoken across the continent, several are spoken within some countries. For example, in the small country of Switzerland, French, German, Italian, and Rumantsch are all official languages. Much of the literature written within each country of Europe is written in one of the country’s languages and may or may not be translated into other languages of that country or into English. The exception, of course, is the British Isles where publishing in English thrives. 

Choosing titles to represent Europe in the Micro-Library was challenging. We wanted to represent the vast and varied continent fairly, but needed to be selective. After our wide reading, we chose to include both new and classic selections. In We are Britain readers meet the increasingly diverse population of children who go to school and play with friends and family in the British Isles region of the continent. History comes alive in The Greatest Skating Race when readers learn of a unique wartime border crossing to avoid Nazi control. Finally, readers can experience the classic tale of Heidi, and join her in the high alpine meadows. Through wider reading of the titles listed, readers will extend their reach to the northern tip of Norway to join the Sami people, learn why one terrier has become famous in Scotland, gain greater understanding of life after war, travel with Charlie and his family to France for a year, and more.

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Further Reading