Nonfiction for primary-age readers

Food chains, Arctic migration, animal communication, and evolution: four new picture books for young readers take on some complex and fascinating topics.

zoehfeld secretsofthegarden Nonfiction for primary age readersIn Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld’s Secrets of the Garden: Food Chains and the Food Web in Our Backyard, narrator Alice tells readers how her family grows edible plants, raises chickens, and interacts with a variety of living things in their backyard garden. Information about composting, plant life cycles, food chains and food webs, and nutrition is included; science-savvy cartoon chickens directly address readers throughout, explaining underlying facts. Priscilla Lamont’s cheery illustrations portray the changes over the growing season. (5–8 years)

dowson north Nonfiction for primary age readersNorth: The Amazing Story of Arctic Migration by Nick Dowson introduces young readers to the Arctic’s part-time residents: those that migrate to the region for the summer months in the Northern hemisphere, including whales from Mexico, narwhals from Europe, Canadian caribou, snow geese, and terns from Antarctica. Patrick Benson’s luminous watercolor with pen and pencil illustrations, spread out beautifully on the oversized pages, capture the graceful movements of the migrating groups as they pass through lower latitude forests, oceans, and skies. (7–10 years)

davies talktalk Nonfiction for primary age readersNicola Davies’s Talk, Talk, Squawk!: A Human’s Guide to Animal Communication presents the ways in which animals communicate through the use of color and pattern recognition, smells, sounds, and chemical exchanges. Her friendly, conversational tone makes the complex ideas remarkably clear and understandable, and Neal Layton’s cartoon illustrations, complete with humorous communications from the anthropomorphized animals, neatly underscore the important scientific messages in each section. (7–10 years)

pringle billionsofyears Nonfiction for primary age readersFor a middle-grade audience, Laurence Pringle’s Billions of Years, Amazing Changes: The Story of Evolution traces developments in the fields of geology and biology that led to Darwin’s On the Origin of Species as well as subsequent discoveries. Pringle’s accessible explanations of such concepts as natural selection and genetic mutations are woven through the book. Color photographs and diagrams of flora and fauna accompany the text, as well as Steve Jenkins’s wonderfully detailed cut-paper animal illustrations and portraits of scientists. (9–12 years)

share save 171 16 Nonfiction for primary age readers
Danielle J. Ford About Danielle J. Ford

Danielle J. Ford is a Horn Book reviewer and an associate professor of Science Education at the University of Delaware.

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind

*