‘You Rule: Create Your Own Country’

Books Education
Image: Lonely Planet Kids
Image: Lonely Planet Kids

Have you ever wished to be a citizen of another country, but you haven’t ever found one that strikes your fancy? Why not just invent your own?

In Lonely Planet Kids’ new book, You Rule! Create Your Own Country, you can do just that. Designed for kids, this book’s activity is best done in a group, I think, with adults in the mix to keep up the momentum. You can either design a country together (though design-by-committee is notoriously difficult), or each person can invent their own country, perhaps a neighbor of the other countries. (The bonus there is inter-country commerce!) It’s entirely up to you.

For my family, I decided that each of us would invent our own country, but go through the book as a family. So, my daughter, my son, and I have each gone through the steps to create our own country, drawing, coloring, writing, designing, and generally just having fun.

But before I get into that, more on the book. You Rule! is a long-ish, step-by-step guide to laying out the details of your country, including many chapters covering topics like where to have your country, what to call it, what kind of terrain it will have, its flag, its government, what kind of ruler you’ll be, what kind of business is conducted there, and more.

We have already gone through the most important parts of the book and each decided on where to have our country, its name, its crest, its motto, its flag, its birthday, its map and terrain, and even its history (I came up with that part). I found that each one of us did a really good job tapping into our personal interests and particular personalities. My daughter included peace and nature. My son, donuts and llamas. I focused on education, cats, and trees.

Each chapter of You Rule! is the right length to go through in one sitting, perhaps a week apart, to allow all of the participants time to consider their decisions for that week’s component. Then at the next week’s meeting, share what you’ve come up with before beginning the next chapter.

Each chapter has instructions about which aspects of your country you’ll be inventing at that point, along with background information on real-life countries and quite a number of made-up ones that have made the news in the past. It’s a fun read, even if you don’t decide to invent a country. But I encourage you to do so. You’ll learn a lot about yourself and about others, and it can also be used in larger world building exercises for fiction writing, RPGs, and imaginative game play.

Here are some images from our country creations.

My country, Waldbestandia. The flag is at right, and the crest in the bottom left. "Believe in Yourself" is our motto. Photo: Jenny Bristol
My country, Waldbestandia. The flag is at right, and the crest in the bottom left. “Believe in Yourself” is our motto. Photo: Jenny Bristol
My daughter's country focuses on nature and peace. Photo: Jenny Bristol
My daughter’s country focuses on nature and peace. “Nature and peace are two amazing things.” Photo: Jenny Bristol
My son's country has donuts, noses, and llamas. "With Games Comes Happiness" Photo: Jenny Bristol
My son’s country has donuts, noses, and llamas. Flag at left, crest at right. “With games comes happiness.” Photo: Jenny Bristol

You Rule! Create Your Own Country is an informative and enjoyable book that can be both an educational read and an enriching activity. I feel it is a good match for anyone old enough to express their own opinion, all the way up to grandparents and great grandparents.

What will your country be like? Please share in the comments!

Note: I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

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