National Geographic Children's Books has a series of leveled readers for curious kids at every reading level. Here's a sample of three of their books about animals published this year.
by Shelby Alinsky
24 pages, ages 2-5
Instead of a table of contents, the first page has a "vocabulary tree". In this case the list begins: animals. Under that: Snowy Owls. Then on one side a list with words related to Where they Live (snow, cold) and on the other side, What they Do (swoop, glide).
Easy-to-read text is accompanied by high-quality photographs. The last page in the pre-readers is devoted to an activity: pretending you're the featured animal and moving the way it moves, matching words to photos, drawing...
by Laura Marsh
32 pages; ages 4-6
level: 1 (starting to read)
This book opens with a table of contents and a question: Guess Who? Red pandas share the name of "panda" but, we learn, they are not any relation to the black-and-white pandas people are used to seeing.
Readers learn about life in the trees, what red pandas eat, and how they talk with each other. Large font text explains most of the material, with text-boxes for cool facts, new words, and even some panda jokes. There's even a panda centerfold - with Five Fun Facts and adorable photos of red panda babies.
The neat thing about books at this level is the "What in the World?" puzzle at the back: close-up photos with hints like "these are used for climbing." There is a word bank (words kids should be familiar with) and a photo glossary at the back.
by Laura Marsh
32 pages; ages 5-8
level 2 (independent readers)
This book is the antithesis of an animal beauty contest. Laura Marsh has rounded up some of the weirdest-looking creatures from air, sea, and land - even space!
There's a table of contents at the front and a photo glossary at the back. In-between are portraits of jumping spiders, tapirs, vultures, and bats. The text is more complex, with longer sentences and new words. There are plenty of text-boxes with cool facts, jokes, and "critter terms", and a centerfold featuring Five Ugly Frogs. At the back there's a quiz.
Kids who want to go beyond the book can become "Super Readers". National Geographic has a special Super Reader site with posters, activities, and games.
Today is STEM Friday. Drop by the STEM Friday blog for book reviews and other STEM resources.