A year ago I started volunteering at our local zoo. It's very fun and last month I had a thought. The zoo would be a fabulous place to spark and promote nonfiction reading. I began wondering how the zoo could do that and envision an informational board with maybe five book titles per animal or one book title with a QR code for more. I wonder if the public library could partner with curating these list or maybe it's something offered on the zoo website for families. Here's ten books I'd start placing on lists for families.
ABC ZooBorns! by Andrew Bleiman - is an alphabet book highlighting baby animals with a close up photo. After each animal is identified there's one sentence with a little fact easy for beginning readers to understand.
ZooBorns! zoo babies from around the world by Andrew Bleiman grabbed my attention right away when Beco a baby elephant from our zoo was the first animal shared. Each baby animal has full page photo spread. We learn the "personable" name of the baby animal and a fact or two that makes sense with the photo. Did you know animals at the zoo have names like Rosie?
Snow Leopard Ghost of the Mountain by Justin Anderson was my sneak peak a couple of weeks ago. Readers will find this narrative story filled with language that is descriptive and informative. In reading about a snow leopard's paws; "They are huge - it's as if she is wearing shoes that are much too big! They help her to spread her weight and travel across the deepest snow without sinking."
The Bat Book by Charlotte Milner helped me understand more about the exhibit I least enjoy. We have some very large bats and how they hang upside down creeps me out AND I learned they have to do this because they can't take flight from the ground as birds do. The layout is warm, inviting, and easy to follow. I also learned some really interesting ways bats are helpful to our ecosystem.
If Polar Bears Disappeared by Lily Williams is a favorite in our classroom with the recent birth of our baby polar bear. This book helps support the idea of conservation and how losing polar bears would have a ripple effect to other species.
If Elephants Disappeared by Lily Williams follows the same idea as polar bears and could also help rally some activists for this beloved creature.
I might be sneaking in more than ten here with this title, don't tell Cathy Mere. Pebble Plus by Capstone Press has a collection of beautiful books for early readers on one specific animal in each. Photographs capture the animals in their natural habitat and the text compliments each photo with just the right amount of information.
Manatee Winter by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld is an older book and a gem. It follows a mother and her calf and shows readers how manatees can be harmed by boats. Our zoo is a rehabilitation center for manatees and releases most of of our visitors back to the wild with updates about their successful reentry.
Another older book I enjoy is All About Alligators by Jim Arnosky. Right away he addresses and distinguishes the difference between an alligator and crocodile. These older books help students see informational text can have hand drawn images and still share information. We discovered this year a big misconception that photographs automatically meant it was nonfiction.
HIPPOS ARE HUGE by Jonathan London is a book I wish we could use at our zoo. We don't have hippos and this book brings hippos to life for the reader. The illustrations are big and focused with fascinating facts in larger print with more detailed facts in a smaller print. Did you know the hippo is the second largest animal to the elephant?