Collecting and Examining Life Recommended Reading
The following is a list of recommended books that provide a wide range of reading and research resources for this unit. Collect as many as you can for your classroom science library, or provide the list to your school or local librarian.
Books to support the Wild Walks
Around the Pond: Who’s Been Here?
By Lindsay Barrett George. (1996, Greenwillow)
A story about two siblings who follow a path along a pond and find clues left by unseen animals. For each animal, one page describes the clue and asks “Who’s been here?” while the facing page presents the information in visual form. The follow-up double-page spread reveals the animal in a full-color illustration.
How Do You Know It’s Spring?
By Allan Fowler. (1991, Children’s Press)
A clear description of what happens out-of-doors when it is spring; illustrated with color photos.
In the Woods: Who’s Been Here?
By Lindsay Barrett George. (1998, Mulberry Books)
A story about two siblings (the same as in Around the Pond) who take a fall walk through the woods near their house. They find an empty nest, a cocoon, gnawed bark, and other signs of unseen animals and their activities. Like Around the Pond, one page describes the clue and asks “Who’s been here?” while the facing page presents the information in visual form. The follow-up double-page spread reveals the animal in a full-color painting.
One Small Square
By Donald M. Silver. (1995-1999, McGraw-Hill)
This is a series of books that examine a particular habitat, including Backyard, Cactus Desert, Pond, Seashore, Swamp, and Woods. Written for ages 6-9, each book includes full-color illustrations of the habitat and its creatures, a glossary and index, activities, and resources.
What’s Under the Log?
By Anne Hunter. (1999, Houghton Mifflin)
A pocket-sized guide with descriptions of the various kinds of life you might find under a log or in leaf litter. The illustrations are not to scale, but accurate sizes are given.
Animals in the Zoo (Rookie Read-About Science)
By Allen Fowler. (2000, Children’s Press)
Examines a variety of zoo animals and their housing, including elephants, bears, reptiles, and killer whales.
Arms, Legs, and Other Limbs
By Allan Fowler. (1999, Children’s Press)
Discusses how different animals use their arms, legs, paws, wings, or flippers to move. This volume is illustrated with clear, bright photographs. A glossary with pictures helps children learn the new words.
How Do Animals Move? (The Science of Living Things)
By Niki Walker and Bobbie Kalman. (2000, Crabtree Publishing Company)
A good reference book that encourages children to compare how animals move. It emphasizes that how an animal moves depends on the structure of its body and where the animal lives. Features information about snails, slugs, and fish.
On the Move
By Joyce Pope. (1993, Raintree/Steck-Vaugh)
Describes the different methods various animals use to move from place to place in order to find living space, food, and mates. Reading level ages 9-12.
What’s Alive? (Let’s-Read-And-Find-Out Science, Stage 1)
By Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld; illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott. (1995, HarperTrophy)
By interacting with plants, her cat, and her dog, a little girl learns that humans are similar to living things that grow and need food, water, and air, as well as how we differ.
The Zoo (Field Trips)
By Stuart A. Kallen. (1997, Abdo & Daughters)
One of a series of books designed to prepare elementary school children for field trips. Written at a second-grade reading level, the question and answer format captures interest for reading aloud.
Zoo Animals: A Smithsonian Guide
By Michael H. Robinson, David Challinor, and Holly Weber. (1995, Macmillan Publishing Co.)
Introduces readers to the modern zoo, profiling over 250 animals and their habitats. Special features reveal life in a sand dune, the survival strategies of baby animals, and more. Includes over 350 photos and illustrations, including maps of 15 major zoos. A good teacher reference.
Snails and Slugs
Are You a Snail? (Backyard Buddies)
By Judy Allen and Tudor Humphries. (2000, Kingfisher)
Introduces young children to the world of the snail with accurate and witty text. Ideal for reading aloud or as a first reader, with colorful illustrations that bring the snail to life.
The Biggest House in the World
By Leo Lionni. (1987, Knopf)
This story is about a young snail who realizes that his house just might not be the perfect fit. The art is bold and colorful, and the text is simple and rich.
Slugs and Snails
By Theresa Greenaway. (1999, Raintree Steck-Vaughn)
Provides information on the identification, life cycle, and habitats of slugs and snails, as well as on how to collect and care for them as pets.
Snailology (Backyard Buddies)
By Michael Elson Ross. (1996, Carolrhoda Books)
Although written for somewhat older children, this book is a tremendous resource for lower grades. It offers abundant information about garden snails, as well as numerous activities and experiments that children can do to learn more about snail behavior.
A Snail’s Pace (Rookie Read-About Science)
By Allan Fowler. (1999, Children’s Press)
Discusses different varieties of snails and slugs, how they move, what they eat, how big or small they are, and which ones end up on dinner plates. Clear photos convey scale; a photo glossary reviews terms.
The Snail’s Spell
By Joanne Ryder; illustrated by Lynne Cherry. (1988, Penguin Putnam)
An unnamed, sleeping, pajama-clad boy is invited into a garden teeming with wildlife. The boy gradually shrinks until he is so small he experiences things as a snail would. Uses brilliant illustrations and a short text.
Some Smug Slug
By Pamela Duncan Edwards. (1996, Harper Collins)
A fun book that tells a tale of a slug and other “s” animals and their movements. The language and illustrations are age-appropriate and inviting.
Crickets and other Insects and Bugs
Bugs: A Closer Look at the World’s Tiny Creatures
By Jinny Johnson. (1995, Reader’s Digest)
An oversized book with two-page spreads that feature an enlarged drawing of an insect, with informative labels and text surrounding the picture. Great, but no longer in print; check your library.
Bugs! Bugs! Bugs! (Eyewitness Readers, level 2)
By Jennifer Dusling. (1998, DK Publishing)
This age-appropriate book accentuates reading skills at the same time it captivates its readers with the life stories of different insects.
Bugs! Bugs! Bugs!
By Bob Barner. (1999, Chronicle Books)
This book is filled with rhyming word poetry that teaches children about different bugs while having lyrical fun at the same time. It is a different approach to reading that may capture a different audience than the Dusling book.
Chirping Crickets (Let’s-Read-And-Find-Out Science, Stage 2)
By Melvin Berger; illustrated by Megan Lloyd. (1998, Harper Trophy)
Describes the physical characteristics, behavior, and life cycle of crickets while giving particular emphasis to how they chirp. A well-rounded book, appropriate for reading aloud.
By Michael Elson Ross. (1996, Carolrhoda Books)
Although written for older children, this book is a tremendous resource for lower grades. It offers abundant information about crickets, as well as numerous activities and experiments that children can do to learn more about cricket behavior.
Peterson First Guide to Insects of North America
By Christopher Leahy; illustrated by Richard E. White. (1987, Houghton Mifflin)
A concise field guide to 203 common and conspicuous insects of North America. Includes introductory sections on observing insects, parts of insects, and more.
Pet Bugs: A Kid’s Guide to Catching and Keeping Touchable Insects
By Sally Stenhouse Kneidel; illustrated by Mauro Magellan. (1994, John Wiley & Sons)
Explains how to recognize, find, catch, and keep 26 common insects that are safe to touch and fun to watch, including crickets.
Secret Forests: A Collection of Hidden Creepy Crawly Bugs and Insects
By Michael Gaffney. (1994, Western Publishing)
An exploration of insects and their forest habitats. Alternates pages of information about selected insects with exquisitely detailed illustrations in which the insects are hidden as they might be in their natural environment. Includes a section called “Leaf Litter Creatures.”
The Very Quiet Cricket
By Eric Carle. (1990, Philomel)
With Eric Carle’s characteristically bold and colorful art, and repetitive text that is easily learned, this book is excellent for reading aloud or for beginning independent readers. The story recounts a cricket that tried to chirp in answer to others, “…but nothing happened. Not a sound.” That is, until he matures and meets a female cricket, who elicits “the most beautiful sound he had ever heard.”
What’s It Like to Be a Fish? (Let’s Read and Find Out Science, Stage 1)
By Wendy Pfeffer; illustrated by Holly Keller. (1996, HarperTrophy)
Describes how a fish’s sleek body, fins, scales, and gills are designed perfectly for living in water. Appropriate for reading aloud, or for independent readers to browse.
The Carrot Seed
By Ruth Krauss; illustrated by Crockett Johnson. (1989, HarperTrophy)
A classic and brief story in which a young boy plants a carrot seed that everyone says will not grow. He carefully tends the seed and eventually harvests a carrot whose size is in direct proportion to his unflappable faith in it.
By L. Patricia Kate; illustrated by Anca Hariton. (1998, The Millbrook Press)
An illustrated story about seven dandelion seeds that parachute through the air when the wind blows. Where will each seed land?
Flowers (Eyewitness Explorers)
By David Burnie. (1997, Dorling Kindersley)
Describes the physical characteristics and life cycles of flowers and examines different kinds of garden flowers, woodland flowers, desert flowers, and others. Offers clear photographs of flowers and their habitiats.
From Seed to Plant
By Gail Gibbons. (1991, Holiday House)
Explains that seeds are different shapes, sizes, and colors, and all grow into the same kind of plant that made them. Describes the parts of flowers, and the various ways plants disperse seeds.
From Seed to Sunflower (Lifecycles)
By Gerald Legg; illustrated by Carolyn Scrace. (1998, Franklin Watts, Inc.)
Large illustrations and simple text present the life cycle of a sunflower from seed to flower.
How a Plant Grows (Crabapples)
By Bobby Kalman. (1996, Crabtree Pub.)
A clear introduction to the life cycle of plants, illustrated with color photographs. Cross-sectional views show a bean plant’s roots developing as its leaves and stems growing above the surface.
How a Seed Grows (Let’s Read-and-Find-Out Science, Stage 1)
By Helene J. Jordan; illustrated by Loretta Krupinski. (1992, HarperCollins Publishers)
Illustrates the simple steps that turn a packet of bean seeds into a garden.
How Seeds Travel
By Cynthia Overbeck. (1982, Lerner Natural Science Book)
Describes how seeds are moved from place to place by wind, water, and animals, and how they function in plant reproduction.
I Am a Leaf
By Jean Marzollo. (1999, Hello Reader, Science 1)
Excellent use of rhyme and repetition that follows the life cycle of a leaf. The text and illustrations make this an excellent book for emergent readers as well as strong readers. Children will develop an appreciation for leaves as indicators of the seasons as well as contributors to nature’s beauty.
I’m a Seed (Hello Science Reader, Level 1)
By Jean Marzollo; illustrated by Judith Moffatt. (1996, Cartwheel Books)
Two newly planted seeds, the first a marigold, the second a mystery seed, discuss the changes that take place as they grow. The second seed delightedly becomes a pumpkin plant with five baby pumpkins.
The Life and Times of the Apple
By Charles Micucci. (1992, Orchard Paperbacks)
Describes the life cycle of an apple, from seed to tree to flower to fruit. It also incorporates geography, history, science, and math.
The Life and Times of the Peanut
By Charles Micucci. (1997, Houghton Mifflin)
Same as above, but with a peanut. Very informative and fun.
The Magic School Bus Plants Seeds: A Book about How Living Things Grow
By Joanna Cole. (1995, Scholastic Trade)
The class decides to plant a garden, and Ms. Frizzle takes them on a zany trip back to Phoebe’s old school where they learn about the life cycle of a plant and how living things grow.
Oh Say Can You Seed: All About Flowering Plants (Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library)
By Bonnie Worth; illustrated by Aristides Ruiz. (2001, Random House)
With the able assistance of Thing 1 and Thing 2—and a fleet of Rube Goldberg-like vehicles—the Cat in the Hat examines the various parts of plants, seeds, and flowers; basic photosynthesis and pollination; and seed dispersal.
By Anne Rockwell; illustrated by Megan Halsey. (1999, Walker & Co.)
Beginning with the image of a hand holding a single bean, the story journeys full circle from soaking, planting, and watering, to flowering, harvesting, and eating.
Plants and Flowers (It’s Science)
By Sally Hewitt (1999, Children’s Press)
Discusses what makes plants grow, the structure of flowering plants, and the way they reproduce. Includes experiments and activities.
The Pumpkin Patch
By Elizabeth King. (1996, Puffin Books)
Color photos combine with simple, non-scientific text that describes the stages of plowing, planting, cultivating, and harvesting pumpkins.
The Reason for a Flower (World of Nature)
By Ruth Heller. (1999, Dawn Publications)
Brief, rhyming text and lavish, accurate illustrations clearly explain pollination, plant reproduction, and the purpose of a flower.
Seeds Grow (My First Hello Reader)
By Angela Shelf Medearis; illustrated by Jill Dublin. (2000, Cartwheel Books)
“We plant some seeds in the ground. We sprinkle water all around…” Easy rhyming text and colorful artwork capture the process of growing sunflowers.
Stems (Growing Flowers)
By Gail Saunders-Smith (1998, Pebble Books)
Describes the different kinds of roots and stems flowers may have, and their importance in helping flowers grow.
By Eve Bunting; illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt. (1999, Voyager Picture Book)
A rhyming, first-person tale follows a boy and his two friends as they sow sunflower seeds in a circle, and carefully tend them until they grow into a sunflower house. When summer’s over, and the sunflowers fall, the friends save the seeds to plant next spring.
Taking Root (Rookie Read-About Science)
By Allan Fowler. (2000, Children’s Press)
Describes what roots look like and how they function in plants.
The Tiny Seed
By Eric Carle. (1987, Simon and Schuster)
Dazzlingly colorful collage illustrations and simple but dramatic text tell the story of the life cycle of a flower in terms of a tiny seed.
Why Do Leaves Change Color? (Let’s Read-and-Find-Out Science, Stage 2)
By Betsy Maestro. (1994, Harper Trophy)
Explains many concepts about leaves in a clear manner and with nice illustrations. Also includes suggestions for activities with leaves.
Good Mushrooms, Bad Toadstools
By Allan Fowler. (1998, Children’s Press)
An easy-to-read book about the differences between mushrooms and toadstools, both of which are fungi.
The Home (Discover Hidden Worlds)
Heather Amery and Jane Songi. (1994, Western Publishing Co.)
From bacteria on sponges to mold on cheese, an exploration of the home that features magnified pictures, easy-to-read text, and a “Guess What?” page. Look in the library for this out-of-print book.
Lots of Rot
By Vicki Cobb; illustrated by Brian Schatell. (1987, HarperCollins Children’s Books)
Discusses what causes rot and the role it plays in the cycle of living things; presents facts about mold, bacteria, and mildew. Check the library for this out-of-print book.
The Magic School Bus Meets the Rot Squad
By Linda Beech and Joanna Cole; illustrated by Carolyn Bracken. (1995, Scholastic)
Ms. Frizzle’s class learns there’s more to rot than first meets the nose when they shrink the bus down for a closer look at a “dead” log teeming with life.
Yuck!: A Big Book of Little Horrors
By Robert Snedden. (1996, Simon and Schuster)
Reveals the microscopic view of fungi and other very common household organisms that exist in that “invisible” realm. Appropriate for reading out loud or advanced independent readers.
Child-friendly field guides
About Birds: A Guide for Children
By Cathryn Sill; illustrated by John Sill. (1997 , Peachtree Publishers)
First-graders read information about birds, how they live, and what they do through brief, precise sentences which are illustrated with full-page illustrations on the facing page. An afterword briefly expands on the text with specific information about various birds’ relative sizes and their contributions to the environment.
About Insects: A Guide for Children
By Cathryn Sill; illustrated by John Sill. (2000, Peachtree Publishers)
Follows the same format as About Birds.
About Mammals: A Guide for Children
By Cathryn Sill; illustrated by John Sill. (1997, Peachtree Publishers)
Follows the same format as About Birds.
About Reptiles: A Guide for Children
By Cathryn Sill; illustrated by John Sill. (1999, Peachtree Publishers)
Follows the same format as About Birds.
Caterpillars, Bugs and Butterflies (Take Along Guide)
By Melvin Boring and Megan Lloyd. (1999, Northward Press)
Both teachers and children can use this great guide to identify caterpillars, moths, and various bugs in the field.
Peterson First Guides
By various authors. (Houghton Mifflin)
Simplified versions of the famous Peterson Field Guides, the First Guides focus on the things you are most likely to see. Titles include:Birds; Butterflies and Moths; Caterpillars; Fishes; Forests; Insects; Mammals; Reptiles and Amphibians; Trees; Urban Wildlife; andWildflowers.
Books to support the Skill Building Activities
Bird Egg Feather Nest
By Maryjo Koch. (1992, Stewart Tabori & Chang)
Though currently out of print, this book is worth finding at the library, so that the children can examine how the author draws the details of nests, feathers, and eggs.
Doing What Scientists Do: Children Learn to Investigate Their World
By Ellen Doris. (1991, Heinemann)
Many of the ideas in this unit’s skill building activities came from this wonderful resource for teaching science to young children. The book is full of examples of classroom dialogue, and has many samples of high-quality scientific drawings by young children that you might show to your own class.
Drawing with Children
By Mona Brookes. (1996, Putnam)
A resource for teachers, this book includes lessons for building artistic skills and using drawing to support other scholastic skills. The author allows unlimited photocopying of the exercises by elementary school teachers.
How Big Is a Foot?
By Rolf Myller. (1991, Young Yearling)
Through the story of an apprentice who gets in trouble for making the queen’s bed too small, this book talks about traditional measurements and the development of standard systems. It does not cover the metric system.
An Island Scrapbook: Dawn to Dusk on a Barrier Island
By Virginia Wright-Frierson. (1998, Simon & Schuster)
Presented as a scrapbook illustrating a day spent by the artist and her young daughter exploring the beaches, marshes and woods of an island off the North Carolina coast. Watercolors and pencil drawings include depictions of shells, insects, birds, and trees.
A North American Rainforest Scrapbook
By Virginia Wright-Frierson. (1999, Walker & Co.)
Like Wright-Frierson’s other scrapbooks, this focuses on a particular setting, here it’s Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula. Every page combines pencil drawings, carefully labeled specimens, and watercolors of animals, plants, and plant parts, such as a banana slug and a variety of evergreen cones.