When I was a kid, my parents had stacks and stacks of old National Geographics. I loved them. I read about places all over the world, from deep in the ocean to the tops of mountains, from cities to wild veldts and jungles. They were stuffed with amazing, exotic, and gorgeous animals and locations from all over the earth.
More recently, National Geographic has started creating excellent non-fiction for children. I always recommend them when they turn up in Scholastic flyers, because they are so well-designed for kids. Packed with interesting facts, broken out into digestible chunks, and punctuated with the great photos for which they are known, they are perfect for young readers and highly browsable for the reluctant.
Why am I talking about NatGeo? Let me tell you about this week. One of the perks of being a book selector librarian and of reviewing books is that I get books coming my way often. usually, I’m the only one excited. New teen novels? Awesome! But I’m celebrating alone. This week, though? I got a box of new National Geographic non-fiction. I was, let’s say, not the only one excited. My kids jumped in and had those books divvied up amongst them in record time. I didn’t have time to write for a few days, and my daughter has asked me about 4, 876 times for “her” books. So. The books. We have some great, fun titles.
For Younger Kids:
What In The World? ISBN: 978 1 4263 1517 6
Photos to prompt guesses are the key ingredient here, be they extreme close-ups, finding differences, noticing shapes, or locating things, it’s all fun puzzles on every page, but accessible enough not to frustrate younger kids. It is, of course, also full of interesting little facts and other puzzles like word jumbles as well, just to extend the amusement a little further. The little guy, 5, is all over this one.
Everything Dinosaurs, ISBN: 978 1 4263 1496 4
Another one destined for the little guy’s room, this is a solid bunch of facts about dinosaurs, starting with the basics, such as, “What was a dinosaur?” It’s a good introduction, with facts presented at little-kid level, and pictures that provide just enough thrills and chills to be exciting, but not truly scary. Perfectly pitched for young kids who are intrigued with dinosaurs, but not ready for detail overload.
The Whale Who Won Hearts! ISBN: 978 1 4263 1520 6
This chapter book about a beluga whale is an adorable story, and exactly right for younger kids who are willing to sit still for a read aloud. Cute, written in a narrative, and introducing lots of sea creatures, it’s a charming, gentle introduction to the world of sea animals, starring a whale, but bringing in many others. Little fact bubbles and plenty of illustrations keep things interesting, or add a little something for readers in grades 2 or 3.
For Middles Grades (think 3-7):
Quiz Whiz 3, ISBN: 978 1 4263 1484 1
This book of trivia questions is right up my girl’s alley – I’ve taken to calling her the “It’s a Fact Girl.” There are multiple choices abounding, and a few other formats, but mostly, a whole lot of questions of the exact sort that kids have fun stumping teachers, parents, and other kids with. She’s itching for this book to expand her trivia knowledge – and your own know-it-all is likely to be just as excited by it… 😉 Oh, and you see that title? Yes, there are 2 other books before it, just in case you want to go all in on this.
Another great title for fact collectors, this title reports on new discoveries in technology, the animal kingdom, and crazy stuff we humans have invented lately. Packed full of interesting, weird, and gross, this sort of browsing title is a sure winner with reluctant readers and bibliophiles alike, it is so full of the odd and fascinating. This is another that my girl has been hounding me to finish with, because she wants it!
This Or That? ISBN: 978 1 4263 1557 2
A book of making choice, this is always a fun game and a great shared read or party game. Any social kid will be wanting to ask you what you’d choose or bring this to camp, school, or daycare to find out more about their friends.
Myths, Busted! 2, ISBN: ISBN: 978 1 4263 1478 0
My kid’s favourite show is MythBusters, so this is, of course, right up her alley. From whether Atlantis exists to why we get pruney fingers in water, this book is packed with fun little facts and myths that have proven incorrect. Another trivia buff’s paradise, it explains its answers well, and of course, illustrates them even better!
Just Joking 5, ISBN: 978 1 4263 1504 6
Kids of all ages love joke books, so this one might just provoke a battle. Full of jokes, tongue twisters, and fun little associated facts, this book is just plain fun, and a great summer read – just be prepared to be besieged with jokes for a few weeks!