In preparing for my recent crazy wonderful science/poetry summer camp, of course I read stacks of books. I was focusing on natural science, and on poetry with and for kids, so my library searches were directed in those areas. The format of books I used was almost exclusively picture books (well, except for the nature guides – more about that in a bit).
Here are just a few of the books I chose:
Observation/interaction with the environment
The Other Way to Listen, by Byrd Baylor, illustrated by Peter Parnall
Beautiful book of poetry loaned by a friend, with visual rhythms and wonderful phrases that evoked many feelings with its sparely chosen words.
Hey, Little Ant, by Philip Hoose, illustrated by Hannah Hoose (this one has rhyming text, so it falls in multiple categories)
Kids thought about whether or not to smash those ants wandering around the playground and the woods after we read this one together. I’m not saying there wasn’t an ant fatality or two, but there was thoughtful discussion about why we decide to smash things we see in our world, and about the choices we might make instead.
Poetry to read aloud
For Laughing Out Loud: Poems to Tickle Your Funny Bone, edited by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman
Funny and silly and just right for 20 wiggly campers to hear on a summer morning.
The Dragons are Singing Tonight, by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Peter Sis
We loved this book, with gently funny listening at the end of busy camp days. The kids kept begging for more!
Poetry about the world around us
Step Gently Out, by Helen Frost, photographs by Rick Lieder
I adore this book of poetry and macro-photography celebrating insects. There are others produced by Helen Frost and this fabulous photographer as well, and kids love them all.
An Egret’s Day, by Jane Yolen and Jason Stemple
I used this book with kindergarteners for years. It’s especially great because of its accessibility – snippets of facts about egrets face pieces of poetry on each two-page spread, accompanied by exquisite photography. It’s an easy book to adapt to the crowd, since you can choose the focus for your audience.
As the Crow Flies, by Sheila Keenan, illustrated by Kevin Duggan
This book fascinated the kids with its beautiful artwork and the antics of the crows, but the lasting impact was when we talked about the meaning of the word “corvid,” which led to our discussion of which birds would be considered “falco” (see below).
Beautiful artwork and fun text.
Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow, by Joyce Sidwell, illustrated by Beth Krommes
What a rich and lovely celebration of habitat.
Natural history guides
Look Up! Bird-watching in Your Backyard by Annette LeBlanc Cate
This is a great picture book introducing the joys of birdwatching. Younger kids really enjoyed paging through it to look at the wonderful illustrations, though the text is geared toward a bit older audience.
Sibley Guide to the Birds, by Davd Allen Sibley, the National Audubon Society
It doesn’t matter how complex a nature guide might be, kids of any age love to amass facts from them. We read entries together, and campers paged through to see what they could find for themselves. This book was our source for new information to feed my young Peregrine Falcon expert’s curiosity about all things falco.
Robert Bateman’s Backyard Birds, by Robert Bateman
Robert Bateman’s lovely illustrations grace this great bird book that make almost any reader want to turn the pages. While it’s not a conprehensive guide, it covers the delights of bridwatching.
Books about poetry forms
R is for Rhyme, by Judy Young, illustrated by Victor Juhasz
This series of alphabet books on different subjects was a hit with teachers and students alike in my library. This one in particular is popular each year, especially during National Poetry Month in April.
A Kick in the Head: and Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms, by Paul B Janeczko, illustrated by Chris Raschka
Another favorite poetry form guide for young writers. This one is great for any age, and is used by the Middle School teacher for his students as much as it is by younger students.
I read a few of these books aloud, but we were busy writing and playing and observing the world around us, so we didn’t get to spend as much time reading as I thought we might. I left the stacks of books out to peruse each day, and there was a lot of action in that area of the room.
We were busy writing and playing and observing the world around us, so we didn’t get to spend as much time reading aloud as I thought we might. I left the stacks of books out to peruse each day, and there was a lot of action in that area of the room.
One of my campers knows everything there is to know about Peregrine Falcons. One of my fondest memories from camp is when he had me share with him about other falco species. He asked me to read to him each bird’s wingspan, where they lived and in particular how they hunted. That way he knew each one’s Creature Power.
Imagine my delight when, at the next snack time after we read these facts, he laid his snack on a table and swooped in on it, using a Merlin’s Creature Power to snatch up the unwitting prey ( Teddy Grahams are most certainly prey for a 6 year old boy) from its perch, his husky superhero voice crying, “Creature Power!” with great triumph…