STEM Friday

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Books

Two Contrasting Books about Sharks for Kids

In time for World Oceans Day (next Monday June 8, 2015), let’s take a look at two very different picture books about sharks.

Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands by Katherine Roy is an award-winning book about a fearsome predator.


The cover sets the tone, showing a shark with something in its mouth and a suggestion of red blood in the water. Some of the illustrations within the book show the sharks grabbing and eating seals. Certain children are going to find this thrilling and others are probably not. As with any book with potentially disturbing images, it is a good idea to prepare young readers in advance and let them choose whether they want to continue.

That is not to say that this book is about gratuitous violence. In fact, it contains a number of fascinating scientific illustrations detailing the body of the shark, how its blood circulates to help heat up this cold-blooded fish, how its eyes work, how its teeth work, and what makes its jaws unique. Learning facts about any animal definitely helps make it less scary.

In contrast, Wandering Whale Sharks by Susumu Shingu is a book for younger children that follows a gentle giant through the ocean depths.

wandering whale sharks

Like whales, whale sharks swim the worlds oceans feeding on krill and tiny fish with their large mouths. Unlike whales, they are fish and do not have to return to the surface to breathe. In fact, whale sharks are the biggest fish in the world.

As seen on the cover, the illustrations feature the colors black and blue, giving the feeling of being completely under water. The images are incredibly peaceful and the text lyrical, making the book a lovely choice for reading aloud to a group of children.

The backmatter consists of a page of factual information about whale sharks, such as how big they are, where they are found, and how fast they swim (around 2 1/2 miles per hour). The last sentence is particularly poignant as the author points out there is much we don’t know much about these fish and they are vulnerable to extinction.

Wandering Whale Sharks is the type of informational picture book that is likely to appeal to a variety of audiences. Highly recommended!

Interestingly, both of these excellent books were illustrated by the respective authors.

Stop by Growing with Science for the full review, as well as more suggestions for activities and resources to accompany the books.

STEM Friday

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