…the pile of books sitting on my desk that is. I started with a pile and expected that I would end up with just a handful of them. I have to say, after using the Charlie’s Playhouse annotated book list, I’m happy to report that the list did not disappoint. I suspect I likely ended up with more books on my wish list after reading it than I thought I would.
I should note that not all of the books listed below were found on the Charlie’s Playhouse list. Some of them I may have stumbled upon while looking for the books on the list at the library. Here’s what I ended up with:
Clara & Senor Frog by Campbell Geeslin – This one was included on the list for its supposed help in encouraging people to “see the world for what it is, and appreciate how dazzling it is, instead of layering it with falsehoods.” That seemed like a tall order and I checked it out of the library just to see if a picture book could live up to these aims. I get where the author of the list is coming from and I get what they are insinuating with the whole “layering it with falsehoods” bit. I disagree, but that’s certainly not a problem for me and shouldn’t prejudice anyone against this book. In the end, it was a great story and the kids really enjoyed reading it. It’s been one that they’ve returned to on several occasions since our first read through. The artwork is fantastic – a shame it’s out of print.
A Cartoon History of the Earth by Jacqui Bailey and Matthew Lilly – This is actually a series of several books. One part science and one part Sunday morning funnies, there’s a surprising amount of information packed into these little books. They are, unfortunately, out of print. At this point none of Amazon’s offerings are available with free Prime shipping so I’m putting these on my “watch list.” It’s the new list of books I’m keeping in my purse so that when I stumble upon the occasional used book store I can keep an eye out for them.
Uno’s Garden by Graeme Base – I’ve mentioned this one before. It’s actually one of the few books I’ll be putting on my oldest’s Christmas list this year. There are plenty of books I’d like to put on there, but I know that it would be asking some of our family members to stretch outside of their comfort zone. This book is innocent enough that even my staunch literal six day creationist museum loving in-laws would be ok with purchasing it. Not surprising since there’s nothing about evolution in it – just a great story on the issue of balance in our world.
The Beast in You by Marc McCutcheon – This book is going to provide much needed activities to round out our unit on evolution. It’s cute illustrations, activities, and easy text should make for an adaptable book for our family. I think there are enough layers of information and activities of varying difficulties to enable us to use this when we pass this way again in fifth (?) grade.
When Fish Got Feet, Sharks Got Teeth, and Bugs Began to Swarm by Hannah Bonner
When Bugs Were Big, Plants Were Strange, and Tetrapods Stalked the Earth by Hannah Bonner – I sincerely wish that Hannah Bonner had written more of these. The artwork is fantastic, the layout of the pages will keep the kids interested, and the text is equally intriguing. I snapped up one this afternoon used with free Prime shipping.
Animals Charles Darwin Saw by Sandra Markle – The illustrations in this one were not my favorite, but I liked the way the author framed Darwin’s story through the lens of the animals. For each two page spread there’s a little text box off to the side that gives more information either about the animals or other related facts of the narration. For this reason (and the great map at the back of the Beagle’s Voyage) I’m putting this one on the list.
Monster Bones: The Story of a Dinosaur Fossil by Jacqui Bailey and Matthew Lilly – This is a great overview story on how fossils are made and what paleontologists do. I know the kids will really enjoy this one.
Inside the Beagle with Charles Darwin by Fiona Macdonald and Mark Bergin – Similar in content to “Animals Charles Darwin Saw” in that it covers Darwin’s voyage on the Beagle that began in 1831. I envision using this book less as a read-aloud (though the kids could surprise me) and more of a resource that we could use to round things out. There’s a good section at the beginning on the ship and the people who would have come along on the voyage that I think my son will really apprecaite.
One Beetle Too Many by Kathryn Lasky – Ditto the above. There’s quite a bit of text on each page, but the writing flows well so I think it will serve as a read-aloud quite nicely. The illustrations are equally wonderful with a depth and texture that I think will really pull the kids in.
Our Family Tree by Lisa Westberg Peters – Love, love, love this one. The illustrations and simple story work well to convey the scale of history. It ties all of us together into a interwoven web which I think will help continue to inspire a sense of responsibility for the way we live on the Earth. I also like the sense of wistfulness it gives which is very much on par with the creation story genre of cultures from around the world. It’s a good mix of story and science.
Life on Earth by Steve Jenkins – Combined with the Eric Carle-esque illustrations is a fantastic overview of life on earth. I’m a little torn as to whether or not I have too many books that are too similar. However, there’s a great timeline at the back of the book that puts life on earth into the context of a day on earth. I suspect I might be able to find this somewhere else, but I appreciate the sense of scale given that modern humans viewed through this lens only appeared on the scene two seconds before midnight.
Books suitable for service as a spine:
Voyages Through Time: The Beginning by Peter Ackroyd – I don’t believe the story of creation found in the pages of Genesis is meant to be taken as literal scientific fact, however, I appreciate the sense of wonder and significance those words lend to the beginning of time (even though, taken as is, it’s not as if the beginning of our universe was lacking in wonder). Still, by borrowing a bit from the structure of the Genesis story, Ackroyd weaves together science, a storytellers skill, easy page layout, and fascinating pictures and illustrations for a good overview of the very beginning of our planet to the final emergence of Homo sapiens. I picked this one up used on Amazon for $0.26 plus shipping (I actually paid more in shipping than I did for the book). A shame it’s out of print.
DK Eyewitness Books: Universe by Robin Kerrod
DK Eyewitness Books: Evolution by Linda Gamlin – I’m as much of a sucker for DK books as I am for Usborne books. I love the way they put together text and pictures in little bits. They make a fantastic “jumping off point” for our studies.
I’ve already filled up the few bookshelves I have in the house with books. It’s becoming clear to me that we’re going to need to invest in some sturdy bookshelves to house these and future books. I’m buying them a little bit at a time and used as much as possible. Yes, I can get most of these from the library, and I always struggle with the decision to buy the books. On the one hand it would be a cheaper and more budget friendly to use the library’s copies. On the other hand, I like the freedom and flexibility our own books affords. I always struggle with timing when to request the book from the library and what happens if we run a bit long and have to return the book before we’re ready. This happens more times than I care to admit hence the tension.
Next up? Previewing videos on Netflix for our science unit.