May is Women’s History month, so I wanted to get at least one post out with great books about great women. There really are so many to choose from that it can be hard, but the amazing thing is that people are putting out spectacular nonfiction picture books that are a great way to get young readers excited about making a difference in the world, following their dreams, and understanding that there are so many different talents out there.
As a child, I loved visiting the tide pools. The wonderful sea anemones were always my favorites. I was very fortunate. I grew up in Los Angeles and I’m pretty sure that we took field trips to the Leo Carrillo State Park frequently and to learn about the amazing marine life that lived in tide pools. Living the rural south, I don’t have many opportunities to expose my kids to the wonders of tide pools, but, of course, that’s where books come in.
Tide Pool Secrets, by Narelle Oliver, is an ingenious lift-the-flap book published on slightly thicker stock than your average book. The flaps help the book be interactive while also showing how sea life can camouflage itself and how changes in the tide impact tide pool life.
As spring starts to head our way, we notice the important changes. The temperatures begin to warm, plants that had gone dormant during the winter months are beginning to sprout new growth, and in many places a yellow pollen covers the ground for a few weeks. While most people appreciate the colorful flowers and greenery of spring, we take for granted that all of this happens. One player that is especially important in the annual cycle is the bee.
It is a proven fact that we need bees. Without bees, we wouldn’t have the variety of fruits and vegetables that we are used to. Bees are important in the chain of life of flowers and vegetables, let alone in the production of honey. But over industrialized lifestyles are killing off bees. Since knowledge is power, there are fortunately a number of books trying to show the next generation, and their parents, just how important bees are and what we can do to help them. Continue reading →
Teachers and parents are all hoping onto the STEAM bandwagon. Seems like people have gotten the message that if we want to be world leaders, we have to raise creative thinkers and innovators. In years past, tinkering and creating were things all kids had to do to keep themselves occupied, but in our fast-paced world, all of the technology that has been created is keeping today’s kids from creating their own. There is a wealth of great books out there, but today I’m going to focus on three new books from National Geographic Kids to encourage our future creators.
* Thank you to Media Masters Publicity and National Geographic Kids for providing me with review copies of these books. All opinions are my own.
Jennifer Swanson has created an amazing mashup of information in her new book Astronaut/Aquanaut: How Space Science and Sea Science Interact. While we often think of space and sea exploration as being incredibly different, the reality is that much of the experiences people face in these two fields are similar. Both deep space and the deep ocean are filled with mystery and only accessible to people who have gone through years of training and research in order to get there. From gravity/buoyancy issues, darkness, pressure, and temperature, sea and space are a lot more similar than we might think. This book goes through a wide range of information hoping to encourage young minds in both of these fields of study. Additionally, at the end of each chapter there is an experiment to help make sense of the heady topics that have been discussed. Kids often learn about space and oceans in school, but seeing the two together in this light was very effective. Continue reading →
We live in a society where so many kids have no idea where their food comes from. Where the thought that fruits and vegetables have seasons that we are supposed to eat them in is foreign. That there are industries at play that manipulate our taste buds and all of our senses to get us to crave certain foods. I was lucky to grow up in California and see the farming community all around me, though it has changed dramatically since I was a child (and not in good ways). Now I live in North Carolina in a semi-rural community where people that we know own farms and we look forward to late April to start picking our own strawberries. But I still want my kids to understand where our food really comes from, so I’m thrilled to see a wealth of books coming out that really work to show that to kids.
One of my kids’ favorite books at the moment is Eat Up! An Infographic Exploration of Food, by Antonia Banyard and Paula Ayer. This innovative book aims to show kids where food comes from, what kinds are healthier for you than others, and how food impacts our world – the people and the environment. It also gives a great history lesson on how our food habits have changed and why. The colorful pictures and fascinating facts really grab young readers’ attention. My kids like to quiz me on various things and tell me different facts while they are reading it. Books where we can get kids thinking about the larger world and our behaviors are definitely a win!
Another relatively new book is 100 Things to Know About Food by Usborne Book. I love this one! Filled with eye-catching graphics and written in a style to grab a reader’s attention and draw them in, this book is full of interesting and sometimes crazy facts. From the very first page where it explains that only babies can survive on milk alone, you get more than just info on milk. The writers behind this book break down the information into additional facts, like the different types of nutrients babies get from milk and that we all need. They also utilize interesting graphics, like words going through a person’s intestines, to visually get a point across. A great option to bring in facts. Continue reading →
Have you ever wondered who invented the BandAid? What about the Slinky? We hear all about big inventions and their inventors, but what about those smaller, everyday items? There are so many stories out there about items that we take for granted, but someone had to come up with the concept first. And who knows, you might be the one to come up with the next big thing! So for this week’s Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge, I decided to take a look at a few books about inventors and their inventions.
I honestly never really thought about how we got Band-Aids. Actually, I probably think more about how crazy it is that so many children go through a phase where they feel the need to cover their bodies in them. Or was that just my child? Barry Wittenstein took kids’ love of Band-Aids and wrote The Boo-Boos That Changed The World: A True Story about an Accidental Invention (Really!) to introduce us to the process of how and why they came to be. Wittenstein gives us a comical look at why Earle Dickson created the Band-Aid (for his accident prone wife) and how it took some alterations and a whole lot of time for them to become the household name that we now know them as. Continue reading →
Here in the south we don’t get a lot of snow, and that’s a good thing, because when we get even the slightest warning of a trace, the entire area FREAKS OUT! The problem is that people here don’t know how to drive well in the snow and there are not a lot of plows available, but it is kind of funny to watch.
With all that said and the fact that it is January, the snowiest month, I thought it would be appropriate to put together a collection of books about snow.
Gail Gibbons is a master at writing non-fiction texts for kids that are still fun to read. In her book, It’s Snowing, young readers get a complete lesson in snow from how it forms, where it falls, different types of snow storms, and how to stay safe and have fun. Gibbons does a great job of breaking up the info so that kids of all ages can enjoy this book and get useful information that they are ready for. Continue reading →
With all of the hurricanes swirling around the east coast, my girls and I were curious about weather, so we of course checked our local library. One series that we found does a really amazing job of taking complex weather systems and breaking them down in a way that any child can understand – Bel the Weather Girl.
This creative series was written by Belinda Jensen, a meteorologist based in Minnesota. Believing that knowledge is power, Belinda developed a series of engaging and enlightening presentations that reveal the science behind weather, and discovered, just as she hoped, that children aren’t nearly as frightened when they are informed. We managed to get our hands on 4 of the 6 books in the series. They are a great way to educate children about big weather concepts and hopefully help them have less fears about harsh weather patterns. Continue reading →
So starts the comical book “Sticks ‘N’ Stone ‘N’ Dinosaur Bones” written by Ted Enik and illustrated by G.F. Newland. This unusual book looks at the actual Bone Wars that took place in the late 1800s between O. Charles Marsh and Edward D. Cope.
I had no idea that there was such a competitive nature between paleontologists, but apparently it was quite a big deal. With a hats off to Dr. Seuss, Enik tells the story of how these men used any means necessary to have the biggest discoveries in finding dinosaur fossils and even resorted to crime and outright lies.
I would have loved to see more talked about the actual dinosaurs and discoveries they found, but this book was about the ridiculous desire to one-up the other. The two men got so caught up in their desire to be famous that they forgot about the science of what they were supposed to be doing. As a media student, it quickly reminded me of yellow journalism, and my husband pointed out that it was fake news.
This book is a must for the dinosaur lover and a great read-aloud. I could definitely see how this would get a classroom of kids talking about fact and fiction, competition, and the importance of fair play.
*** I read a digital copy of this from NetGalley in return for my honest review. All opinions are my own.
Back in June, I finally read Jason Chin’s beautiful work Grand Canyon. I was completely blown away by his illustrations and methods used to capture a child’s attention and teach them a wealth of information on the Grand Canyon. When I learned about the other titles he has written, I decided that I had to gather them up to see what there was to learn. Not surprisingly, his other books were just as beautiful and just as important for young researchers, adventurers, explorers, and inquisitive minds.
Island – A Story of the Galápagos is a fascinating look at the evolution of the Galápagos Islands and of the animals who lived there. Chin, in his remarkable way, takes the reader from birth to death of an individual island in a manner that is both entertaining and educational. Continue reading →