July 20, 2010
There are a lot of science and nature books for kids out there—nearly every publishing house, large and small, seems to have its own line. Unlike with most other genres with this kind of volume, though, most of them are pretty good, covering their chosen subject (bats, say, or animals of the jungle habitat) with the right depth for the age level they’re aimed at and, of course, lots of great full-color photography. We probably own 10 or 15 of these little volumes, all told, all from different series but nonetheless quite similar, and entirely satisfying to our five-year-old.
But I haven’t written about them much, mainly because there’s often so little to distinguish one line of books from another. All of them are good, but it’s rare to find one that stands out. DK’s How Animals Work does, and not solely because it’s a much larger volume than the rest. It’s kind of a coffee-table book for kids, really, 192 pages long with a hard cover, and featuring enough really big full-color photos to keep a kid happy for months.
But as the title suggests, there’s another reason this book will be especially appealing to the science-minded youngster. It uses all that extra space not only to load up on more amazing images, but also to go beyond the basic factoids you usually find in kiddie science books, and delve into how and why animals do the things they do. So alongside that amazing closeup of a snake, you find out exactly how snakes slither. (No spoilers here.) To Dash’s delight, there are in-depth diagrams of the bodies of those bats, too, demonstrating how each anatomical feature that’s vital to the creature’s survival functions.
It goes on and on like that for pages, in something of a parent’s dream: a long, attractive-to-behold book that even a slightly science-minded child can get lost in for stretches of time, learning all the while. The book’s official age range from the publisher is 8 to 12, and some of the biology discussed will be over the heads of children younger than that, but at five, Dash adores this book. Better still, I think he’s going to treasure it for years.
[Cover image courtesy of DK Publishing.]