The Top of the World: Climbing Mount Everest

Written By: Steve Jenkins

Before Reading

Explore Illustrations

Take some time to explore the cover and illustrations with your child before beginning your read-through. Ask these questions to get your child warmed up and making predictions about the story:

Why do you think this story is called “The Top of the World”?

What do you know about Mount Everest?

Have you ever gone hiking or camping before? If so, what was it like? Did you enjoy it? What was hard about it?

Explain that you are about to read a story about what it takes to climb the world’s highest mountain, or the mountain with the highest elevation above sea level. Climbing to the top of Mount Everest, located in the Himalayas between India and China, is an incredibly difficult and dangerous feat that few people attempt and even fewer accomplish.

As You Read

Vocabulary Building

Encourage your child to ask questions about the story as you read and to stop when s/he comes across a new word. Allow him/her to discover its meaning using the words and illustrations surrounding it. Examples of new words in The Top of the The World: Climbing Mount Everest include:




Making Connections

There are many things to take into consideration when discussing the climb up Mount Everest, one of them being temperature. The author helps try to make comparisons so that your child can understand just how drastic the conditions are. For example, when discussing mountain life, he says that “...a journey from Kathmandu to base camp is a bit like traveling from the tropics to the Arctic.” Discuss what it would be like to try and climb Mount Everest, going from an incredibly warm climate to frigid conditions. Ask, “What do you think that would be like? How do you think the climbers account for that kind of temperature change?”

After Reading

Summarize and Interpret

Gauge your child’s comprehension of the story by asking questions like:

What are some things that make it extremely hard to climb Mount Everest?

What do you think the most difficult part of the climb would be?

What is the Death Zone?

What do you think makes people want to climb Mount Everest? How do you think it feels to get to the top?

The book also includes a list of records that have been set for the climb including the first ascent, the most ascents by one person, and several others. Ask your child about any longer term goals that s/he may have by saying, “Some people train and plan for years to be able to get to the top of Mount Everest. Do you have a big goal that you want to accomplish? Maybe it’s what you want to be when you grow up, a sport that you want to get really good at, or that you want to find a way to make the world a better place. How can you work to achieve your goal?”

Activity: Learn More About The First To Conquer Mount Everest


The first people to reach the summit of Mount Everest were Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay (shown above) on May 29, 1953. Despite this momentous accomplishment, they were only able to stay at the top for 15 minutes before they had to turn back around due to a lack of oxygen. Learn more about this incredible feat here and watch an interview with Sir Edmund Hillary!