There are a lot of reasons that mother and author Lisa Manzione started her new children’s book series, Bella & Harry. However, being an advocate of geographic literacy is probably the most the prominent one.

Geography is about a lot more than just memorizing where countries are on a map,  it’s about understanding the cultures that go along with each country and the process for understanding those cultures has to start early. If our children are going to thrive in the newly globalized economy, and prepare for the nearly 70,000 new jobs geotechnology is adding to the U.S. each year, they need this program. Manzione stated regarding a bill that was recently introduced to fund a four-year, $60 million program designed to enhance the teaching of geography in public schools.

Manzione’s passion to “open children to the world around them” has lead to the adorable picture book series chronicling the Adventures of Bella and Harry, two curious Chihuahuas traveling the world with their human family. Currently, Let’s Visit Paris is available for purchase and Let’s Visit Venice will be available soon, at $16.95 each.

Angelina

Angelina at the Library

Some of you may know that I am the proud mother of a sassy little four year old named Angelina. What you don’t know is that her thirst for travel and curiosity about the world runs much deeper than mine. Any opportunity she has to learn something new about a foreign country, unfamiliar culture or just about travel in general, she goes for it. As with any preschooler and their obsession with the question “why?”, our conversations go like this: we pass a taco truck in Brooklyn then I’m explaining where Mexico is on the map, what the Mexican people wear to work, what language they speak, how long it takes to get there, when we’ll be visiting and so on. This is a scenario that happens almost every day and we’ve probably covered about 80% of the world. There are a lot of triggers being that we live in an area of NY that carries the largest ethnic diversity, Queens.

Needless to say, The Adventures of Bella & Harry: Let’s Visit Paris was an immediate winner in our house. She listened intently and occasionally drifted away into the whimsical illustrations. Although she still had questions when the book was over, many of them were answered within the story. We learned about things in a way that younger kids can understand, things such as: the height of the Eiffel Tower being 986 feet tall which is about 50 giraffes stacked on top of one another, how a “crepe” is a small, thin pancake, the Louvre is a famous museum where lots of history is kept and how the Arc de Triomphe was created to welcome home brave soldiers.

Bella & Harry Let's Visit Venice!

At the end of the story there is also a short list of commonly used words and their translations along with a “scrapbook” of photos Bella & Harry took along the way.

This book was a definite hit and we’re both anxiously awaiting the release of Let’s Visit Venice! I would recommend the series for an age range of 4-10.

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