The 10 Best Geography Textbooks

video play icon 10 Best Geography Textbooks

This wiki has been updated 18 times since it was first published in February of 2019. Teens are capable of memorizing maps in order to pass a test, but what you're really hoping for is that they'll retain an interest in the world beyond their city or state. These textbooks present geography in a way students can comprehend with exciting visuals and online content to inspire a curiosity about people and cultures around the globe, encouraging further exploration. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. The Cultural Landscape

2. History of the World Map by Map

3. Physical Geography

Editor's Notes

December 14, 2020:

Geography goes much deeper than many people realize, and we wanted our selection to reflect that. We know that while many aspects of the discipline are static, it's still necessary to have a relatively recent textbook, so we updated everything that had a newer edition. That included Geography: Realms, Regions, and Concepts, World Regional Geography, and Physical Geography. We also said goodbye to two volumes to bring on the new History of the World Map by Map and The Cultural Landscape. For the remaining texts that are a few years old, we deemed them still relevant enough to include. Many of the contemporary issues they outline are still ongoing today, or else any headway society has made in solving these problems makes for another learning opportunity to understand how the world is changing rapidly in modern times.

History of the World is an ideal intersection between history and geography. It is illuminating enough for any reader, but will be especially interesting to those who have a solid grounding in geography, as it expands on regions and shows intricate histories involving an impressive array of events. The Cultural Landscape is perfect for those interested in human geography, offering a solid introduction to the subject using recent research. There's also a ton of interactive features, like text links that connect students to data visualization activities that provide hands-on experience using data-driven geospatial technology and the techniques of geographers.

To make way for these new titles we cut Geographic Thought, which, although a very illuminating read, is rather abstract and may not have a place in most classrooms. It's better for self-learning on your own time. We removed Eastern Hemisphere since we already have Glencoe World Geography and Holt McDougal Geography for high schoolers. Middle schoolers should enjoy Geography: A Visual Encyclopedia and Geography of the World, while college students will learn much from Geography: Realms, Regions, and Concepts, Geography Alive! and Physical Geography. Any one of the books listed here would also benefit from a world atlas as a supplemental text.

March 06, 2019:

Age is an important factor when considering one of these texts, as young learners may be overwhelmed by too much information and will become discouraged, unable to see why they need to know this stuff. That's why Geography: A Visual Encyclopedia is so high on the list. Young kids need to see what makes these places special so they'll want to visit them and will actually care about where they are. The same goes for Geography of the World, another version simple enough for elementary school learners. Advanced students need to focus on the global issues that affect this discipline and understand that there is not always consensus on how geography is viewed. That's what makes Geography Alive! such a great choice, as it doesn't fail to provide core information while making sure to open up topics for debate.

Special Honors

Earth 3D World Atlas Appropriate for ages four and up, this interactive 3D globe app features wonders of the world, political and physical maps, and global weather. Users can discover an abundance of interesting facts and useful information about the planet via original and colorful graphics, a user-friendly interface, nighttime sky feature, day-to-night cycles, over 2,600 geographic objects, and more.

Stack the Countries For kids in elementary school and beyond and available on Apple and Android devices, this game makes learning about the world fun for youngsters. As players learn country capitals, landmarks, geographic locations, and more, they can touch, move, and drop the animated countries anywhere on the screen. Once you've built a stack of countries that reaches the checkered line you reach the next level. As you play, bonus games are unlocked, and there are flashcards and interactive maps for extra study.

4. World Regional Geography

5. Geography Alive!

6. Glencoe World Geography

7. Geography: Realms, Regions, and Concepts

8. Geography of the World

9. Geography: A Visual Encyclopedia

10. Holt McDougal Geography

Gia Vescovi-Chiordi
Last updated by Gia Vescovi-Chiordi

Born in Arizona, Gia is a writer and autodidact who fled the heat of the desert for California, where she enjoys drinking beer, overanalyzing the minutiae of life, and channeling Rick Steves. After arriving in Los Angeles a decade ago, she quickly nabbed a copywriting job at a major clothing company and derived years of editing and proofreading experience from her tenure there, all while sharpening her skills further with myriad freelance projects. In her spare time, she teaches herself French and Italian, has earned an ESL teaching certificate, traveled extensively throughout Europe and the United States, and unashamedly devours television shows and books. The result of these pursuits is expertise in fashion, travel, beauty, literature, textbooks, and pop culture, in addition to whatever obsession consumes her next.

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