The Best Books On Animal Adaptations For Young Readers

By Laura Hulbert

The Books I Picked & Why

Why Do Cats Meow?

By Joan Holub

Why Do Cats Meow?

Why this book?

Like my book, this one draws young readers into the topic of animal adaptations with a question. Although the book doesn’t have a table of contents for easy perusing, it does provide a model for picking and choosing the chapters of interest. It’s likely to be a young reader’s first experience with the scanning procedure we use in nonfiction materials--as opposed to the page after page reading necessary in fiction stories. The book consists of 20 chapters each addressing a question about cat behavior. The explanatory paragraph is from 3-10 sentences long, pitched at a late 1st-grade reader. The visuals are a combination of photographs and drawings.


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Scholastic True or False: Mammals

By Melvin Berger, Gilda Berger

Scholastic True or False: Mammals

Why this book?

The “test your knowledge” format of this book is appealing to a wide age range of youngsters. A simple question like “All mammals eat meat. TRUE or FALSE?” is followed by a one word answer (FALSE) and then a one sentence answer in large font: Cows and many other mammals usually eat plants. The subsequent paragraph goes into more detail about the topic. In this case, it explains how the shape of an animal’s teeth provides a clue to its diet. Full disclosure: Many kids who peruse the book on their own skip over the paragraphs. Captivating photos of animals in nature abound.


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Building Beavers

By Kathleen Martin-James

Building Beavers

Why this book?

What I love about the books in the Lerner’s Pull Ahead series is the natural language that’s used and the depth of information that’s provided. In an effort to be readable, many non-fiction books aimed at young elementary students are so concise as to wind up being superficial. But this series explores concepts in depth. In Building Beavers, 12 sentences are devoted to the construction of a beaver lodge. The books include 27 pages of text (two to three sentences per page.) At the end of the book, there is a map showing where in the world the animal is found and a diagram of the animal’s body parts as well as a glossary and an index. There are no headings or chapter titles, however. The detailed photographs provide an excellent complement to the text.


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Reptiles

By Catriona Clarke

Reptiles

Why this book?

You really can’t go wrong with a book from Usborne publishers. Reptiles is a gem. It has all the features of a traditional non-fiction book--chapter titles, table of contents, glossary, and a list of related websites--and it bestows information in kid-friendly language. When a procedure is outlined, such as temperature regulation for a desert lizard through a long hot day, the process is distilled into 4 numbered steps. The small size of the book (6” x 8”), the beautiful integration of photographs and illustrations, and the high interest level of the topics covered makes this book a surefire winner with kids.


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Animals and Where They Live

By John Feltwell

Animals and Where They Live

Why this book?

There are lots of animal encyclopedias out there, but none compares to this Dorling Kindersly book. Each double-page spread focuses on a particular biome. The illustration takes up most of the page and depicts the inhabitants assembled in naturalistic poses. Along the borders of the page are labels and short paragraphs about each of the animals. Topics related to a particular biome are included: Surviving the Cold, The Burrowers, etc. The Life in the Mountains and The Ocean Depths sections show the different levels in which animals live. This is a book to be gazed at long and luxuriously, preferably on a lap.


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