Using Maps to Study Literature

2 min read

Maps are traditionally aligned with Social Studies and Geography curriculums, but they can be extremely useful in studying literature. There are so many different resources to explore when learning about the setting of a story. Here are a few different ways to use maps to study literature in your Language Arts curriculum!

Google Lit Trips

Google Lit Trips are files used to follow the travels of characters within a novel by using Google Earth. Hundreds of Lit Trips are already available to download. Middle School novels include Fever 1973 by Laurie Halse Anderson, My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier, and Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis. Students can even create their own Google Lit Trips from their favorite novels.

Study Imaginary Maps

Did you know that the Library of Congress has a website where you can find primary and secondary resources to use with your students for free? One of the little-known sections of this site is a collection of imaginary maps used in literature. The site links resources including maps from The Lord of the Rings Project and The Maruder’s Map in Harry Potter. Maps give readers a visual peek into an imaginary world, perfect for creating imagery in the reader’s mind.

Create Your Own Maps

Have students create their own maps to go along with the setting of their favorite stories. Use free software online such as National Geographic Mapmaker Interactive which gives easy access to layers and tools to showcase literary settings throughout the world. Students can create their own maps using Google products like Google Earth or Google Maps.

Creative cartographers may want to draw their own fantastic maps. Here are some tutorials using Photoshop. Many of the tips can be applied to paper drawings as well.


Minecraft is a vast educational resource, especially when it comes to creating settings based on novels. Students build worlds found in the pages of fiction and bring them to life on screen. Build in creative mode and allow more interaction and games in survival modes.

There are so many ways to use maps to study literature. From integrating technology software to hand drawing beautiful creative works of art, maps can be used to study setting and character’s journeys in a story.

Also published on Medium.



Interesting re: Google Lit Trips, this is the first time I am hearing about it. Sounds useful though!


Too fun! My husband loves maps and finds a way to work them into most things. It’s fun to hear my nine-year-old incorporating geography into books she’s reading now.


We didn’t home school our girls, but we definitely spent a lot of time on projects like this. We did a lot of home educating or sorts. It really payed off in their interests too.

Crystal Wachoski

Very interesting, so many fun resources. My daughter loves Minecraft and Roblox.

Amber Starr

So many great ideas! I have never heard of many of these resources but definitely bookmarking for the future.

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