Christopher Columbus's father was a businessman, a weaver. His mother's family were also weavers. Maybe they hoped that one day Christopher would go into the weaving business, too, but Christopher had ideas of his own. Growing up in the seaport city of Genoa, Italy, he had watched ships coming and going all the time, and he began to dream of sailing out on a great adventure of his own.
Lots of people dream of adventures when they are children, but Christopher didn't just dream, he did something about it. He worked hard to get what he wanted. One thing that he did early in his life was to get a good education. He didn't go to school for long, but he continued his education on his own to be sure that he learned the things that he would need to know. He taught himself Latin and Spanish so that he could communicate with people from different places. When he was 14 years old, he signed on as a deckhand on a sailing ship to learn all about sailing.
At that time, many ships were sailing off on adventures. Some of them sailed east around Africa to reach what they called the Indies, which includes the modern countries of India, China, and Japan. Columbus, knowing that the world was round, thought that he could get there by sailing west. He didn't know that there were whole continents, North and South America, and the Pacific Ocean in his way!