What better way to introduce children to the language and ideas behind computer coding (or just codes in general) than by reading picture books that combine real information with a bit of story-telling to inform and entertain.
“How to Code a Rollercoaster” written by Josh Funk and illustrated by Sara Palacios is a lively story about Pearl, who visits an amusement park with her robot, Pascal. This brightly illustrated picture book introduces kids to the language of computers. Readers learn what words like “loop,” “code,” “variable,” and “value” mean. In fact, they also learn computer reasoning like true and false and “if-then-else.” Adults just might learn a bit about computer programming from this quick, interesting read. The author knows what he writes about because he’s a software engineer. This is not his first picture book. (Viking)
“Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? Big Questions from Tiny Mortals about Death” by Caitlin Doughty, after two weeks in print, was eighth in hardcover nonfiction in the New York Times list of of bestsellers. Death sells. Doughty writes a book that will simultaneously make you gag and smile, but certainly won’t make you die laughing. In fact, that’s one question that isn’t answered in this book with strange facts about dead bodies and death — can you die laughing? Apparently no child asked that question. Maybe in the next book, Caitlin?
Reading children’s books is a great way to get information about many topics. These biographical picture books will educate readers on people they might not otherwise know about. Each story is fascinating and gives insight into how people with inner strength and fortitude can change the world. Continue reading
It’s rare for me to get three nonfiction adult books about dogs in one month, and even rarer when there is a definite link between the three books. “Rescue Dogs: Where They Come From, Why They Act the Way They Do, and How to Love Them Well” is, like all of the books, a touching set of stories, all about “Pete Paxton” (a pseudonym) and his investigation and undercover work to help dogs who are suffering from puppy mills, bunching facilities, and backyard breeders. The stories are heartbreaking, and in the subsequent sections of the book he delineates why it’s important to rescue or adopt a dog instead of buying one from a breeder or pet store. He also shares how to find a rescue dog and what to expect when you bring it home. His stories always focus on one special dog that energized him, a special personality that motivated him to make things better for all dogs. And in “Doctor Dogs,” Maria Goodavage shares stories of many special dogs, all of whom make the lives of their humans infinitely better. In fact, many of these special dogs have the ability to make life better for mankind as a whole. She shares the many, myriad ways dogs heal us, help us discover illness, help us live with disease, and help us emotionally. The third book, “Molly: The true story of the amazing dog who rescues cats,” brings things full circle with the two previous books. Molly is a rescue, and that’s what Colin Butcher, the author, was determined to use for his proposition — training a dog to rescue cats. He and his family had rescued animals his whole life, and he didn’t want to buy a dog from a breeder, but rather rescue one, as is encouraged in “Rescue Dogs.” Interestingly, the training that Molly received is from the same group that is mentioned often in “Doctor Dogs,” and which nonprofit trains dogs to help humans in many, many ways — even finding lost cats.
Each of these three books is a fabulous read — but don’t just read one, read them all! Continue reading
Kids and animals — I love fabulous picture books about animals that will get kids hooked on reading. These nonfiction picture books are filled with color and animals, some about specific animals that fly or swim and about a plethora of other animals. One is even poetry about animals. Enjoy this list of books that are perfect for animal lovers and great for any library or bookshelf. Be prepared to read them time and time again for your young animal lover. It’s a long list, but it’s a wonderful one.
“Pit Bull Heroes: 49 Underdogs with Resilience and Heart” is a paean to pit bulls by talented photographer and writer Greg Murray. As he comments in the “About the Author” section at the back of the book, he is an animal photographer and rescue and pit bull advocate. His first book was “Peanut Butter Dogs,” showing dogs enjoying peanut butter, of course.
“Señorita Mariposa” by Ben Gundersheimer and illustrated by Marcos Almada Rivero is a beautiful, happy, rhyming picture book that tells the story of the monarch butterfly’s long journey from faraway places to Mexico where the monarchs gather each winter. Children get an idea of how long the journey is through the text and illustrations. “Over mountains capped with snow, to the deserts down below,” and elsewhere, the monarchs travel long distances on their journey.
The new school year is just around the corner, and there are lots of wonderful nonfiction picture books perfect for a wide range of students from preschool through middle school. Picture books are a great tool for teachers (and parents) to use to start a discussion about anything from history to kindness to math. Yes, even math. Continue reading
“Reaching for the Moon: The Autobiography of NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson” is a very powerful book. Not only is the story of Katherine Johnson’s life inspiring, but the story she tells is filled with emotion and facts and history, and the way she combines them all into this middle grade book is superb.
“P Is for Pterodactyl: The WORST Alphabet Book Ever (All the letters that misbehave and make words nearly impossible to pronounce)” is truly the BEST book ever! First of all, it’s brilliant — from the choice of alphabet words and for the text that explains what the words mean, and the words and text and illustrations combined make it really humorous, as well.
For example, “B is for Bdellium. We doubt that anyone knows what bdellium is, but it’s the only word dumb enough to begin with a silent B.
Summer is a wonderful time to spend outdoors with children, showing them the beauty of nature and the beauty of the animals in nature. It’s a wonderful time to play with dogs and visit forest preserves. At night, reading books about nature and about animals is an excellent way to drive home lessons about respecting nature and treating animals — whether pets or wild animals — with love and compassion.
Two of these books are new releases, and two are simply picture books that deserve to be shared and widely read. Two are about domestic animals, dogs, and the two nonfiction picture books are about wild animals and how two brave, resourceful people became determined to help them. All are fabulous choices for every home and school library.
Two nonfiction picture books that should become classics are “Jasper’s Story: Saving Moon Bears” by Jill Robinson and Marc Bekoff and the semi-autobiographical “A Boy and a Jaguar” by Alan Rabinowitz. Both books are about brave people dedicating their lives to helping animals, and both are fascinating to children of all ages. I’ve read these books with first graders and fourth graders, and each child appreciated each book on a different level.
First posted in Bookreporter.com.
“Our Symphony with Animals: On health, empathy, and our shared destinies” by Aysha Akhtar, M.D., is a memoir, an informational text, and a paean to the joys of sharing our lives with animals. Akhtar shares that she was abused as a child. She writes about her childhood dog, Sylvester, whom she loved with all her heart. She also shares that it wasn’t until she finally stood up to a family member who was abusing Sylvester that she was able to stand up to her abuser, as well.