Friday, May 20, 2011

Library "Daze" - Fact and Fantasy: Don't Fall into the Picture Book Trap

This week at the library we somehow managed to pick out books that are either fact or fantasy.  And by fact I mean non-fiction textbook-like books and by fiction I mean fantastical books about mythical creatures, magic, or monsters.  It was by chance that we checked out these too polar opposites but they make for a nice theme! 

Baby bookworm is still too young to understand the irony in some of the fantastical books - since to her, a unicorn or a "nightmare" monster might be real.  Maybe that is why, to my surprise, she is really drawn to the non-fiction books in this bunch, which are by far her favorite out of the lot.  I read in one of my many educational psychology books that it's a good idea to introduce non-fiction books to kids at a young age and I actually wish I'd done it sooner considering she's been exclaiming all week "Guess Who Changes" (see below). 

Here's the fact and fantasy we came home with from the library.

Guess Who Changes
written by Sharon Gordon

This book tells of the life cycle of a butterfly in a very scientific and textbook-like way.  There are no illustrations, but rather photographs detailing the caterpillar's metamorphosis into a butterfly.  There's even a glossary at the end of the book.  My expectations for baby bookworm liking this book were seriously very, very, very low.  I mean, the book uses the word pupa.  Well, I guess I know nothing because its been non stop "guess who changes".  I think she really likes the photographs, and maybe since we recently had a few "lessons in science" (see my post on 5/17/11) she is drawn to the concept of transformation and change (maybe my lessons worked after all!).  The book is also short and does not have many words.  It would be a great book to read along with the less scientific classic that we all know and love, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.  We'll probably keep this book around for our allotted 3 weeks.

 A Day in the Life of a Doctor
written by Heather Adamson

As you would guess from the title, this book is about all the things a doctor does throughout the day.  There's only photograph's, no illustrations, and the book highlights several important glossary terms related to doctors such as prescription or stethoscope.  It's a short textbook-like book that I think is great for toddlers through early readers.  Baby bookworm and I often play doctor with a doctor's kit (a Christmas gift from Toys R Us), so this book makes a very nice supplement to our dramatic play time!  (p.s. this is a book in a series of books about "A Day in the Life of" fill in an occupation).  If your child is older than mine it would be fun to create your own day in the life of book either about your own occupation, or your child.  This book should also come in handy as we will be visiting the doctor soon for an 18-month check up.
Not our doctor kit, but an eco-friendly one from Toys R Us that I thought was cool!

There's a Nightmare in My Closet
written and illustrated by Mercer Mayer

This book was on display at the library and the second I saw it brought me right back to elementary school.  I had completely forgotten about this book but definitely loved it as a kid.  It is the tale of a little boy who is afraid of a nightmare who lives in his closet, but it turns out the nightmare is nothing to be afraid of because he's a not a scary nightmare at heart.  This is a nice book to read to a child that can actually sit for a minute or two, although the story is not lengthy.  I'm very happy that baby bookworm has grown to enjoy it because I definitely enjoyed becoming acquainted with it again. 

Here's an animated clip of the story with voice by Billy Crystal.  You'll notice the phrase "I'll shoot you" from the book has been changed to "I'll get you" and that the boy's gun is now a sword.  Oh, how times have changed.  The book was published in the 60's.

Where Giants Hide
by Mij Kelly and illustrations by Ross Collins

This is a short rhymey book with beautiful and colorful (almost computer graphic-ish) illustrations.  The story is a cute way to introduce reality versus pretend - that is, that things like giants, unicorns, and fairies exist if we use our imaginations.  Now, baby bookworm is not getting this message, I'm sure, from the book but we'll keep on reading it because it's a quick read that she seems to enjoy.

The Magic Bed
by John Burmingham

This is a good book but was a bad library choice for us.  While I like to think that baby bookworm loves every single book we pick at the library, occasionally we pick one that is a flop.  And by flop I simply mean that before I read 2 pages she's off, into something else, and not into the story.  I have read through this book beginning to end once, with baby bookworm playing with her kitchen rather than listening to me.  It's definitely better suited for older children, as there is an actual storyline, no rhymes, and the illustrations are very intricate but aren't particularly colorful (which toddlers often like).  The story is about a boy named Georgie whose new bed is not quite like other beds....John Burmingham has written a ton of children's books so maybe we'll have better luck with another book by him.

And finally, last but not least, we got our "w" Sound Box book by Jane Belk Moncure.  Don't worry, we're still practicing our phonics!  And I think I'll keep it up with these books because baby bookworm loves them (even though the editions our library has are completely outdated).  This week we made a walrus out of a w as a hands on activity to go along with this book (search for Kathy Ross under "search by author" for a book on how to make other letter crafts).

Well, out of fact and fantasy, I never would have guessed that fact would be the big winner here.  I definitely think I'll make it a habit to expose baby bookworm to more non-fiction books!  We'll see if her liking of non-fiction continues through early childhood and into elementary school - especially once she realizes that textbooks usually = homework.

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