I just can’t get used to that calm, robotic voice saying “in half a mile turn right.” And then when I decide to get gasoline, she tells me “Recalculating.” I really hate her! Give me an old fashioned map with roads and state boundaries marked on it.
I am concerned that children will grow up not knowing how to read maps anymore. Even friends my age are losing their skills because they depend so much on Siri or Alexa or whoever it is telling them how to get places. And she’s not always right! One time she took me to a residential cul-de-sac when she was supposed to take me to a wedding reception. The pastor and other cars ended up in the same wrong place. I wonder what that family would have thought if we had all trooped up to their home, looking for the party. Blame it on computers.
Tomorrow is National Read a Road Map Day and I plan to celebrate by going someplace new and then trying to get home using a North Carolina map. Along the way I might find a pastry shop or sandwich deli that I didn’t know existed. We can find all sorts of wonderful things if we just turn off our cell phones and tablets, and go back to “fumbling around in the dark.”
If you, too, fear that young people and not-so-young people can’t read maps anymore, check out Jamestown Library’s selection of atlases. National Geographic Historical Atlas of the United States is large and colorful. Besides maps, it’s got historic photos and time lines. The Rand McNally Road Atlas is one I remember in my dad’s car. When the parents got tired of answering the question, “Are we half way there yet?” they would throw the atlas into the back seat so we could figure out where we were and where we were headed.
Then there are the cultural atlases, one of China, one of Africa, one of Australia, one of India. These books offer maps, charts, geographical/ethnographic backgrounds, and modern-day regions. These atlases are great for an overview of the regions.
Popular children’s author Andrew Clements wrote The Map Trap, a humorous book about a sixth-grader who loves maps but loses his collection. His maps are not about places but about people. This poor middle school kid is terrified that the principal or his teachers will see his maps. He has mapped them, as well as some of the important students in his world. If some bully gets his hands on Alton’s maps….
We also have very specific atlases that might be interesting for families to explore together, like Atlas of Natural Disasters, Great Dinosaur Atlas, Atlas of Plants, and Mars Flight Atlas. And atlases specifically for young people: My First Atlas, Illustrated Atlas, and It’s a Big, Big World Atlas, all great books to take on a road trip to keep curious ones occupied.
So celebrate Map Day and get lost…. It can be fun!