My two younger children adore reading and learning about animals so much so that that has been the bulk of our reading for the past 8 months. There are two favorites that I will discuss first and then two more that we read after requesting them from netgalley which I will review subsequently.
National Geographic Animal Encyclopedia: 2,500 Animals with Photos, Maps, and More! by National Geographic Kids
Published: October 23, 2012
This book is fabulous! I cannot believe this book that is so densely packed with information entertained my 4 and 6 year old nightly for a period of 6 months. I might have thought the content would have been too dry, describing the diet, habitat, size and lifespan of animal after animal, however, my children were riveted. The book is divided into sections by taxonomy: mammals, birds, fish, invertebrates, amphibians reptiles. Within each section, each page is devoted to a particular animal group and then goes more in depth on 8-10 particular species of that group. I personally loved learning so much about all these animals. We would make each page a game with me quizzing my children at the end of each page to see how much they retained. Our “Guess the Animal” game in the car has become quite sophisticated as a result of this book. I loved how at the end of each taxonomy there is a page that goes into records: biggest, fastest, most poisonous, etc. There are also pages describing researchers studying animal species in the wild which has served as a source of professional inspiration for my son. If you have an animal lover in your family, I cannot recommend this book enough! The photos are stunning, the maps detailing where the animals live are highly educational and there is so much depth to this book for great discussion to occur.
Did You Know? Animals by DK Publishing
Published: May 17, 2016
Having already tackled the National Geographic Encyclopedia of Animals, there was great enthusiam when this book entered our house, especially from my 4 year daughter. This book was exactly what she wanted. She would carry it around the house, begging for someone to read it to her and once it was finished, we would start again at the beginning. Each page focuses on one animal species and starts with a question to get you thinking. It discusses the answer to the question and gives descriptive information about the animal with arrows from the text to the relative anatomy. It usually talks briefly about a couple of other animals who may have a similar behavior or adaption. Then there is a “quick quiz” which covers topics that usually have not been covered in the text. This did not cause concern for us. We usually discussed the question, made a guess and then checked our answers in the back. The re-reading was satisfying for my daughter because she was able to remember many of the answers to these “quick quizzes,” most of which we had been guessing at the first time around. The photos are beautiful, the text engaging, and as demonstrated in our family… a great book for reading over and over.
“Different? Same!” by Heather Tekavec and Pippa Curnick (Illustrator)
Expected Publication Date: May 2, 2017
This is a beautiful and playful animal book that seeks to engage young readers by pointing out differences between groupings of widely different animals and then asking what similarity exists. The similarity might be stripes, horns, whiskers or shells. It is wonderfully written and beautifully illustrated. It was engaging and fun to read with my four year old. I would highly recommend this to readers 2-5 years old. It makes you consider animals in different ways and think about why these vastly different animals might all have horns, whiskers, shells, etc. We had fun with the last page of the book, pointing at various animals that all had a particular characteristic or habitat. This is a great book for re-reading and generating discussion!
“Animals Do Too!: How They Behave Just Like You” by Etta Kaner and Marilyn Faucher (Illustrator)
Expected Publication Date: May 2, 2017
This book asks the child a question followed by a discussion of how a particular animal likes to do the same thing. It is playful in that it makes animal behavior seem childlike and fun. A couple of examples are: honeybees dance and gazelles play tag. There are eight such children activity – animal behavior comparisons explored in this book. This is a great read for any young animal lover, aged 2-5.