I have two boys, one 15 years old and one 12. They are interested in a lot of different things. They are also bored by a lot of different things. But I have had some success reading non-fiction picture books with them, sitting together on the sofa or on someone’s bed. They don’t sit on my lap anymore, but they do sit next to me and talk. Here are four of our recent ones.
Alien Deep by Bradley Hague, 2012, Ages 8-10. Like many families, we have always read a lot about the natural world, including animals, storms, lasers, and geology. Marine life was a favorite for a long time, and with the improvement in technology in the last several years, photography has brought us some stunning films and images and lots of new discoveries. Better technology has enabled us to visit the bottom of the ocean with better cameras, better lighting, and better safety for people. The deepest spot, Challenger Deep, was visited by two men in 1960 and then not again until 2012 by James Cameron. This means that all of the newer books feature creatures or places that were only recently discovered. We had a wonderful time looking at the new discoveries and talking about exploration in this book that focuses on hydrothermal vents in the Galapagos Reef. There are many books with amazing marine creatures to interest most readers.
Rotten Pumpkin: A Rotten Tale in 15 Voices by David M. Schwartz and Dwight Kuhn, 2013, Ages 4-12. We had such a great time looking at the disgusting (through very high quality) images! I learned something I didn’t know about penicillin: it was discovered because Alexander Fleming noticed that the colonies of penicillin bacteria were surrounded by clean areas, and he asked why. Very interesting. This book was full of different bacteria (I have a child who is interested in that) as well as other creatures who clean up the world around us.
Animal Grossapedia by Melissa Stewart, 2012, Ages 7-10. This book was not as gross as the pumpkin book (at least not to me), but very interesting in a different way. All of the gross facts in this book are scientific facts about something animals do to survive. Saliva can be poisonous or healing. We all love learning about the things animals do. Yes, a couple of pages brought out “EEW” for all three of us!
Parrots Over Puerto Rico by Cindy Trumbore and Susan L. Roth, 2013, Ages 6-11. This is truly a wonderful, beautiful, and fascinating book. We stared at the breathtaking art on each page for a couple of minutes (how did Susan Roth do that?) before reading the story of the parrots. The book reads top to bottom like a legal pad, which was a little tiring for my arms but opened up many visual possibilities. How often do we get to read a picture book that has a sense of height, from the ground to the sky? I felt like I could see so much more. And I am a particular fan of seeing a long, comprehensive history told in a clear, big-picture way, like a saga, and this was enhanced by the vertical artwork. We could see people farming and birds flying far above. This book has it all: gorgeous, memorable art joined with history, culture, human interest, animal habitat loss and successful conservation efforts. Unforgettable.
Read the Horn Book review.
Thanks for reading, and let me know what you think! And please recommend more books for my kids if you can!