The swirls of color on these pages are the northern lights. The sun releases tiny particles. When they strike the Earth’s atmosphere, the particles let go of energy. That causes the air to glow!

What's Up, World? Iceland

Learn what everyday life is like on this island nation up north.

Imagine you live in Iceland. You wake up just in time for a quick breakfast of skyr (skeer), a cheese similar to Greek yogurt. You pour it over warm hafragrautur (HAH-vrah-gray-tur)— also known as oatmeal.

Outside, the winter sky is dark and the sun won’t rise until about 11:30 a.m. In the winter, Iceland gets only about five hours of sunlight each day. (In summer, the sun barely sets and stays out all day on some days!)

You meet a friend at the local public bath, an outdoor pool filled with hot water. It’s fun being surrounded by snow while swimming.

Back at home, you and your family share a dinner of plokkfiskur (PLOCK-fis-kour), or fish stew. Then you all head outside to watch the northern lights. This natural phenomenon fills the night sky with colors, like green and purple.

Keep reading to learn more about Iceland. How does it compare with your community?


Kristinn Magnússon

Every year on the Thursday after April 18, Iceland celebrates the First Day of Summer. To mark the day, children march in parades holding flags, play games, and exchange gifts.

Fun and Games

Ready to ride? Equestrian sports are popular in Iceland. Other favorite sports include soccer (called football there) and golf.

Let's Eat

Simon McGill/Getty Images

Hot dogs are super popular in Iceland! Icelandic hot dogs are different from the American kind. They’re made mostly from lamb, with a little pork and beef.

Look at This!

GUSK/NordicPhotos/Getty Images

Check out one of Iceland’s many volcanoes. When it erupted 10 years ago, it sent so much ash into the air that planes couldn’t fly in the area for days.

Creature Feature

Iceland is home to more Atlantic puffins than anywhere else in the world. There are 8 million to 10 million of these birds in the country during the spring and summer.

1. How does the amount of daylight in Iceland change between winter and summer?

2. Based on the map caption on page 5, what are some geographic features of Iceland?

3. How do children in Iceland celebrate the First Day of Summer?

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