Underground: Subway Systems Around the World, by Uijung Kim (Cicada, 2020)


What the book is about: A graphic illustration of ten subway systems around the world filled with fast facts and opportunities for discussions about cultural differences. Includes a seek and find element. Here are some coloring sheets to get you and your child started.

Underground colouring sheets to download and print.

After looking together through the book, you can try these activities.

Four Activities for ages 4 and up

Activity One: Build a Timeline

The Beijing spread includes a timeline showing changes in the subway over the years.

  • Show the children how a timeline is built by creating one with the opening dates of the systems included in the book.
  • Talk about how a timeline works, then have them create their own timeline of their life in their notebook.
  • Then, if space allows, have the children arrange themselves in a timeline based on their birthdates. If space does not allow, incorporate a whiteboard or large piece of paper to arrange them from oldest to youngest.

Activity Two: Symbol Languages

Underground_transit_symbolsTransportation systems around the world use symbol or picture cues on signs to aid travelers who aren’t able to read the language. Some of these are featured in the book.

  • Talk about the different symbols for the subway itself as well as other picture signs (e.g. women only cars in Mexico City) inside the book.
  • Find additional examples online and ask the children what they think these mean. A fun way to show the difference is to look at “children crossing” signs from around the world. You can use this guide to take you to subway systems in specific places. Underground Subway Systems Around the World
  • Then, have the children brainstorm signs they might wish to see in and around their school and playground and have them create those signs using images.

Activity Three: Cultural Foods

Each city’s spread showcases a popular food item from their culture.

  • Ask the children if any of them have eaten any of these foods. Discuss similarities between these foods and their own favorite foods.
  • Encourage children to describe their own favorite foods and tell a story relating how that food is important to them.
  • Have children try some of these foods if appropriate.

Activity Four: Creative Storytelling


This book is filled with characters who could have a story to tell.

  • Choose a character and in group discussion talk about where that character came from as well as where they are going and why they might be traveling on a subway.
  • Then, have the children choose their own character and create a story using pictures, words, or both depending on the skill set of the child. Alternately, pair the children and have them write the story together. Allow the children to use other books to get a feel for the location to aid them in coming up with their character’s story.