What is space? Where does space really begin? Why is Jupiter stripy? What is a light year? How are rockets launched?
There are few parents of young, curious children who have not been confronted with questions like these as their offspring begin to realise that there is a world even larger than the one immediately around them and they want to find out more.
So here is the answer – a new publication by DK that uses children’s questions and an inquiry approach to provide the answers. Using extraordinary photos and clear diagrams supported by child-size bites of text over 200 common questions about space have been answered at a level that the child will understand. Yet there is enough information for the really curious to want to investigate further. For example, in 2007 tiny animals called tardigrades survived for 10 days in space outside a spacecraft – but what is a tardigrade? (You can find out here.) There are even quick quizzes that encourage them to read the text closely, including picture captions, critical information literacy skills.
DK have a sound and deserved reputation for bringing non fiction to young readers in a way they can access and engage with and this new addition is no exception. Ideal for the eyebrow-raising questions for parents who can get themselves off the hook by suggesting they use the book to find out together, yet tantalising enough for those with a need to know more.
Anyone who has spent time with little people, particularly boys, will know that they often gravitate to the non fiction collections of the school library where they can get a THICK book (very important) and then pore over the pictures for hours at a time. If the pictures and diagrams are of high quality then they can absorb a lot of information from them even if they can’t manage the text yet.
In this new publication from non fiction experts DK the editors have mastered combining stunning illustrations with just the right amount of text to support the beginning reader, often only one sentence and using vocabulary that is appropriate to the age group whilst not “talking down.” Divided into four sections – All About Animals; Amazing Animals; Animal Antics and More Very Important Animals – it begins with a clear explanation of what animals are, differentiating them from plants, and then moves on to those of land, sea and air.
Using lots of colour, a clear, clean font of a good size, labels, speech bubbles and other literary devices, the young reader is taken on a journey through the animal kingdom that they will return to again and again, all the while honing their reading skills as they want to know more than just the pictures can tell them. At the back they are introduced to the concept of a glossary which explains the meaning of some of the more unusual words they might encounter like amphibian and exoskeleton, as well as an index that will help them find just what they are looking for.
With more and more research emerging about the need for children to develop basic literacy skills using print if they are to use and interpret online information efficiently and effectively,this is a must-have addition in both the school and home libraries.
To little people, homes must seem to work like magic. They flick a switch and the light comes on; they turn the tap and water comes out; turn a knob and the cooktop comes to life. But is it magic? Or is there something else behind it?
In the cleverly illustrated book that seems to talk directly to the young reader. and which is written to support early science curricula, the origins of electricity, water and gas are explained with clear diagrams and simple explanations. Then how each works in the home is also shown and although it takes away the “magic” it leaves children with a better understanding of their energy sources and hopefully an understanding how precious these resources are and they need to be conserved.
A great introductory book about energy that connects the child to the subject through the use of familiar items and processes, paving the way for further investigations and perhaps experimentation.
And if you really want to grab their attention, share this 50s classic… and see if they can now work how that light DOES go on!
Decades ago DK Publishing revolutionised the presentation of non fiction to young readers with bright photographs, information in manageable, well-labelled chunks and the clever use of white space so that the reader was not overwhelmed. Their Eyewitness series became a staple of primary school library collections. Now they have a launched a new series for the younger reader, using their familiar format but adding many more features so the newly independent reader can access information at their level.
Beginning with a durable paperback cover which folds out to be a quiz with answers and essential information relevant to the topic such as areas of study, a timeline or a phylogenetic tree, it then offers a page where the reader can jot down the things they have already identified that they want to find out thus supporting the inquiry method of investigation from the get-go. Then, as is customary with DK books, there are the usual contents, glossary and index pages which encourage and enable young readers to use the clues to get to what they want and in between are double-page spreads of basic information and glossy photographs and diagrams, all clearly labelled. So as well as being an ideal way of exploring print to find information they also serve as a model for students to present their findings if their searches have been assignment based rather than just curiosity.
To top it there is an easy-to-navigate website that offers more information and activities as well as support for teachers and parents. Like the books it is also a teaching tool for helping young children learn to use a website for information, one designed for their level and more authoritative and targeted than Wikipedia.
Despite the misguided opinion of some, there is a lot of research and reasons that primary school libraries, particularly, need to have a robust, attractive, up-to-date non fiction collection and this new series demonstrates the value of not only catering to those who prefer to read non fiction but also those wanting to find out more NOW! As well, the series is attractively priced so that parents can purchase individual volumes to accompany particular interests or investigations that their child is pursuing.
Miss 6 is fascinated with the human body and snaffled my review copy as soon as she saw it, not only asking and answering questions for herself but also learning vital lessons about using such resources. Now she is exploring those for information as often as those for her imagination. It won’t be hard to fill her Christmas stocking!
From the icy polar regions, the steaming tropics to the depths of the oceans, our planet is inhabited by some amazing creatures and many of them are gathered here to tempt the budding David Attenborough as they investigate the tallest, longest, fastest, heaviest and most dangerous animals in the world, complete with facts and measurements.
With easily accessible text, bite-sized facts, and fold-out pages which introduce a myriad of creatures, little ones cannot only learn about the creatures that share their environment but also that books can educate as well as entertain. They are for information as well as the imagination. And for those who want to know more, Usborne has a page of Quicklinks that offers safe, vetted links to information and activities.
The Usborne Big Book of Animals is just one in this series of early non fiction for young readers that help them find more about the world they live in and which would be quality additions to any school or home library.
Some little people, unlike their grandmothers, love bugs and see them for what they are – an essential element of life on this planet either as pollinators or food for pollinators. So those little people will probably love this book with its life-size pictures of these multi-legged creatures and wonder and marvel at Mother Nature’s creations, ingenuity and magic.
Even though there are officially only 16 pages, there are four huge fold-out pages that offer many more pictures to explore – the biggest ones, the most deadly, those with wings and those with lots of legs, those that are beautiful and those that are not-so, even those that could win gold medals in a Bugs Olympics – there are bugs from all around the world to discover, learn a little about and perhaps even investigate further. Usborne even provides a page of Quicklinks to support further investigations as well as activities.
Not necessarily my favourite book of the year because I’m a wuss, but definitely one for little people wanting to get up close and personal with Mother Nature.
Bong! Oscar is woken by the town clock striking midnight and strange noises in the street. As he looks out his window he sees a huge, hairy woolly mammoth. Instead of being scared, he is dressed and outside in a flash where Timothy the mammoth explains he is searching for his little brother. Together they continue the search which leads them to the town museum where the door opens a crack to reveal the inhabitants have come alive and are having a party. Continued through the interactivity of gatefolds, lift-the-flaps and speech bubbles the search progresses through the various sections of the museum until… It is certainly the most extraordinary hour of Oscar’s life.
Apart from kids’ universal curiosity of the mysterious creatures of the past, this is a book that will delight young children as they explore it over and over as it combines so much information as the quest continues. There is so much detail included that there will be something new to explore and learn with every reading. It is certainly an intriguing way to help them discover their world and enjoy having to be part of the action to move the story along.
“In the vastness of space lies a tiny sphere that orbits an ordinary middle-aged star in a quiet backwater of the Milky Way. It’s one of billions of trillions of worlds, yet it is the only one that we know supports life… let’s go on a voyage of discovery to the four corners of the globe.”
Beginning with the beginning of the planet’s existence and told in a narrative style suitable for the newly independent reader who likes to read non fiction rather than dipping and delving for specific information, this is a beautifully illustrated book that takes the reader on a journey through physical earth, life on earth, the regions of the earth and the human planet.
With its retro colour palette, diagrams and pictures it reminds me very much of a similar book I used to pore over 60 years ago and which I still have, such was its importance to my understanding of the world. While today’s youngsters have television and the Internet to take them on similar journeys, nevertheless there is comfort and security in having something on hand that can be referred to over and over on demand; that gives enough information to satisfy a curiosity while also being a springboard to seeking further understanding if that is required.
However, the illustrations are not as clear as might be expected for a ready reference resource of this type and being unpaged, and lacking a contents page and an index make its use more a personal one than an essential element of a library’s collection. It is one to recommend to parents who are looking to boost their for home libraries so their children can start to understand what this planet is and how it works. It may become as loved as mine did and decades on form part of a collection of adored childhood reads.
As world events and personal dramas seem to envelop us, books like this tend to put mankind and indeed Earth into perspective in the scheme of things and we are left with a wonder and an awe of this ‘third rock from the sun” as well as a sense of hope that despite everything and everyone, this place will endure for our lifetime and that of several lifetimes to come.
This seems like a strange title for a book, even given that we know little ones like to explore their world using their mouths, but it achieves its purpose – to make you venture beyond the covers. And when you do, you are introduced to a whole new world – one that contains Min and millions of her microbe friends. You are encouraged to place your finger on the spot and pick her up and take her on a journey around your body – your teeth, your clothes, even your belly button. With the aid of electron microscope images, we are introduced to her relatives Rae the streptococcus, Dennis the fungus and Jake the corynebacterium and all the while there is the message of keeping clean to keep healthy. Min herself is an E.coli and while she can live happily in your intestines, she spreads easily and with dire consequences of hands are not washed regularly.
While antiseptic manufacturers would have us believe that we need to live in a sterile world and they can assist with this, the truth is it is impossible to rid the world of its germs, helpful or harmful, and this is a fun introduction to that that we cannot see. Young scientists will love it and will delight in sharing their new knowledge with the adults in their world while those who are reluctant to wash their hands, clean their teeth and change their clothes might think again.
Two interactive board books for the very young which take them on a journey into town or to the farm teaching them new vocabulary and inviting them to find things hidden in the illustrations. Very young children will delight in finding things that they are already familiar with – there are peepholes and flaps galore to explore – and learning the names of the places and things that are common to them. On the other hand. often city kids have no idea at what is found and done on a farm and vice versa – country kids may not be aware of the hustle and bustle of the city – so introducing them to the sorts of things they may find there at such an early age helps sets up their schema for when they encounter them in other stories. Even the concepts of “city” and “farm” and where they are and how they get there can be explored, compared and contrasted, and new vocabulary built.
Great for the very young as well as those learning English for the first time. They might illustrate additional things they know as they show off their new knowledge.