Short Story of Christopher Columbus for Kids

Instructor: Joseph Wallace

Joseph is a recently retired elementary school principal and is a teacher with 36 years of experience in elementary education. He hold an EdS in Advanvced Professional Studies

The person who many people think was the first European to visit America was named Christopher Columbus. He was a famous explorer. This lesson will tell you the story of his life and how he came to visit the Americas.

Young Columbus

Christopher Columbus was born in the Italian city of Genoa (Gen-oh-ah) in 1451. His dad was a weaver, a person who prepares wool to be weaved into cloth. Christopher didn't want to be a weaver. He loved the sea and wanted to be a sailor. He began sailing at the age of 14. He sailed around the Mediterranean (Meh-duh-ter-Ai-neeuhn) Sea and became a skillful sailor. He learned how to make maps and charts and how to sail from one place to another, or to navigate.

As he grew older, Columbus wanted to sail longer distances. In 1476, he was part of the crew of a ship that sailed into the Atlantic. His ship was attacked by pirates off the coast of Portugal and sunk. Columbus was able to swim to shore. He went to a city in Portugal, named Lisbon. He spent many years there, sailing on ships from Portugal and learning more about navigating at sea. He also heard stories about very rich lands to the east. These were the countries of India and China. China was called Cathay at that time. Travel to China and India was very long, dangerous and hard. The merchants, people who bought and sold goods, were being attacked, robbed and killed on those trips! They wanted very badly to find an easier way to get to China.

Portrait of Columbus
Portrait of Columbus

China, Here We Come!

Columbus thought that he had the answer. He felt that since the earth was round, like a ball, if he sailed to the west and sailed long enough, he could sail right around the world to China in the east. He had two big problems though. First, he did not have enough money or ships to make this trip. Second, most people in those days thought the world was flat, like a table top. They thought that if you sailed too far from land, you would sail off the edge and be killed!

Columbus had to try really hard to prove that he was right. He went to the kings of Italy, England, Portugal and France, asking for help. They all turned him down. Columbus did not give up. He went to the king and queen of Spain. Queen Isabella of Spain believed in Columbus and, after some time, convinced the king to help him. They gave him three small ships, the Santa Maria, the Nina and the Pinta, and a crew of 87 men, and off he went!

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