Trucks and Wild Animals–A Magical Combo

I’ve been on a little bit of a nonfiction reading jag, again inspired by the Common Core standards.  It behooves the kick-butt reading teacher to acknowledge and redress weaknesses, and one of mine is helping kids find “just right” nonfiction.    Here are a couple of my faves from this week.

Monster Trucks!

Author:  Susan E. Goodman

I will probably have to put this book on a chain if I don’t want some overenthusiastic kid to permanently borrow it.  The text is very simple (level is end-of-second-grade-ish) but very informative.  I knew exactly squat about monster trucks when I started reading.  Now I know a little of their history, the kinds of activities that happen at a monster truck event, and the general parts that make up a monster truck.  The photos (taken and selected by Michael J. Doolittle) really bring the book alive, and it is just a PERFECT easy nonfiction selection for my classroom library.  I love it when I spend money on a book and know it will be read until it disintegrates.  My favorite take-away–the headlights on those monster trucks aren’t even real–they’re just painted on!

Great Migrations:  Amazing Animal Journeys

Author:  Laura Marsh

It probably won’t surprise anyone that my favorite thing about this (and so many other) National Geographic publications is the photos!  Amazing Animal Journeys (looks like its based on the Great Migrations shows by National Geographic) is graphically rich, with lots of text features to complement the three animal migrations featured (zebras, walruses, and red crabs).  Each feature includes diagrams of the animals bodies, descriptions and maps of the migrations, and ways that humans are both hindering and helping these particular migrations.  The text is also peppered with “weird but true” facts and corny animal jokes–just the stuff kids love to read, reread, memorize, then run up and tell the next 10 people they meet.  This book rocks a late-third-grade-ish level, but the text is very accessible, with no more than one large-print paragraph on any page.  And every page is dominated by colorful, vivid images that go beyond the text.  I think my favorite photo is on page 37, where it looks like an adult walrus is hugging a baby walrus–it is adorable!


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