National Geographic Kids has a series of readers that range from pre-reader to fluent reader. Here’s a trio of titles that my kids would have loved when they were beginning to read
Peek Otter, by Shira Evans is full of active language: “Peek, otter!”, “Run to the river,” and “Jump!”. Each page or spread is a photo, with simple sentences in large type. Granted, some of the words are above pre-reader level. But once the child hears the story a couple of times, she/he will be able to read some words and fill in the rest of the story. And that’s what pre-reading is all about, right?
Evans also wrote Dive, Dolphin! another pre-reader. Like Otters, it is filled with action words. Both books relay information about how the animals hunt, what sort of food they eat, and their family life.
At the beginning of each book there’s a “Vocabulary Tree” with categories of words. For example: where they live (ocean); what they have (flipper, tail); and my favorite, what they do (active verbs). So an early reader could learn words like dive, jump, play, leap, flip, peek … and then act them out.
At the back of each book is an activity – a matching game or story sequencing challenge.
Bears, by Elizabeth Carney is written for “fluent readers”, children who are reading on their own and are ready for “more challenging vocabulary and varied sentence structures”. Each page features awesome photos, but this level has twice as many pages as the pre-readers – 48 instead of 24. And there are many more words on the page.
The format is more structured as well, with a table of contents, material divided into brief chapters, photographs with captions, and sidebars. There’s also a glossary and an index. Like the other readers, Bears ends with an activity – though in this case it’s a quiz.
While there’s tons of great information about bears, my favorite section was about animals that have “bear” in their name but aren’t bears. For example, Tardigrades, called “water bears” and “Bearcats” which are neither bear nor cat.
It’s STEM Friday! (STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)
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