Geography Class Summer Reading Suggestions: Human Interaction with the Environment


The impact of human beings on the environment is a topic that garners significant attention from both students and scholars and has taken on special significance since the advent of the environmental movement in the 1960s. Geography teacher Robin Manning shares three of her favorite titles related to human interactions with the environment that she finds useful in her classroom and are popular with her students.

Graves, John. Goodbye to a River. Reprint ed., Vintage, 2002.

In 1957, native Texan and author John Graves canoed down the Brazos River from Possum Kingdom to Lake Whitney, in advance of the construction of several proposed dams. This, his first book, chronicles that trip. It is everything you would expect from a native Texan—storytelling at its finest. Graves’s book, originally published in 1960, explores the history and interaction of people and the Brazos River; and it has had a lasting impact—most of the proposed dams were never built.


Hoose, Phillip. The Race to Save the Lord God Bird. Anniversary ed., Square Fish, 2016.

A powerful, passionate, cautionary story of the extinction of one of America’s most beautiful birds— the ivory-billed woodpecker. Winner of the 2005 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Nonfiction, Hoose’s tale of the ivory-billed woodpecker stands as a testament to the need to preserve habitat in order to preserve species. Combining history, geography, and popular culture, Hoose traces the decline of this magnificent bird from the beginnings of the country to its last stand on the Singer tract in Louisiana in 1944. My favorite book on the U.S.


Conover, Ted. The Routes of Man: Travels in the Paved World. Knopf, 2010.

Ted Conover travels the world to bring us the stories from six roads—dirt logging roads in the Peruvian Amazon, a frozen river in Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir, the “AIDS highway” in Kenya, Palestinian and Israeli commutes in the West Bank, speeding along Chinese highways, and creeping around the incredibly crowded streets of Lagos, Nigeria. Along the way, Conover interprets the significance of the destruction of the rainforest, the cultural changes a new road will bring for the school children in Ladakh, the impact of the barriers to movement in the West Bank, and so much more. The book raises more questions than answers, and leaves the reader pondering how roads help shape the modern world.


About the Reviewer

Robin Manning teaches AP Human Geography to ninth graders at Jack C. Hays High School in Buda, Texas. Ms. Manning is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a degree in education curriculum and instruction. She has taught geography at the high school level for over 15 years. As a Fulbright-Hays fellow Ms. Manning spent five weeks in China studying cultural differences and working with Chinese educators to increase their ability to teach critical thinking skills to their students. She has also studied Korean cultural geography on a Korea Society fellowship. In 2017, Ms. Manning received the K-12 Distinguished Teaching Award from the National Council for Geographic Education, which recognizes excellence in geography teaching at the primary and secondary levels.

Join the Discussion