Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Small Readers: Slither, Snake!, Hoot, Owl! and Sleep, Bear! by Shelby Alinsky

 I love National Geographic nonfiction easy readers. They're the reason I made a nonfiction easy reader section, since so many people were skimming through the easy readers looking for the yellow spines! I wanted to review three of their new pre-readers today.

Each book starts with a "vocabulary tree" containing the words that will be used in the book. The book runs through different aspects of the animals' lives and then ends with an activity. I like that the activities show drawings that could actually have been done by a child as their examples.

Slither, Snake! has the absolute most gorgeous snake on the cover. Yes, it's a highly venomous boomslang, but still gorgeous. Ahem. Ok. So, the vocabulary tree goes animals, snakes, and then lists body parts - tail, tongue, hood, head, fangs, scales. This book a number of different snakes like so "A king snake slithers. Slither, snake!" as well as adding a few spreads of simple information about the snake. There is a map at the back showing where the snake lives and then a project to draw a snake and label its parts.

Sleep, Bear! is probably my favorite because I love bears. Well, I love snakes too, but bears! Furry! This vocabulary tree goes from animals to bears to brown bears and then branches out to what they do and what they eat. There are also the four seasons included. The book follows a bear through the four seasons from waking up in the spring, hunting for food in the summer, finding a den in the fall, and back to sleep in the winter. The language is simple and clear "The bear eats. And eats. It eats all spring." The activity suggests acting out a bear's seasonal behavior.

The last title, Hoot, Owl! is specifically about snowy owls. The vocabulary tree has two lists, one of words about where they live and one of words about what they do. This is probably the simplest of the three titles with many pages having only a single word, "Food! Snatch!". The first half of the book uses the vocabulary to describe where the owl lives and the second has action words.The activity suggests acting out a snowy owl's behavior and then drawing it.

Each book has gorgeous photographs that fill almost the full page but there is still plenty of room for strips of solid color as background to the bold, large typeface. Captions within the pictures add more information and challenging vocabulary for young readers.

The problem with most nonfiction easy readers is that the challenging vocabulary is too much for beginning readers. National Geographic has done an excellent job of presenting facts with manageable text and of course they're photography is always wonderful. I have a constant need for more pre-readers and these are stellar.

Verdict: If you haven't purchased nonfiction easy readers, I recommend starting with these. Show parents just how easy they are and how much the kids love the photographs and facts and they'll be hooked! Highly recommended.

Published 2015 by National Geographic; Borrowed from the library

Hoot, Owl!
ISBN: 9781426321269

Sleep, Bear!
ISBN: 9781426319600

Slither, Snake!
ISBN: 9781426319563

1 comment:

By Amy B. said...

I completely agree with you on these Nat Geo readers. They really solved the issue of my kinders and firsties not being able to find "just right" NONfiction. Also, the photographs are really what make the series. If the words were matched with drawn, fictional illustrations I'm not sure they'd have the same appeal. I just hope Nat Geo can publish these readers fast enough! : )