How does a person who likes children’s books find a “how-to book” that is not dull or confusing? I have found several “how to” books or even science or craft kits, and thought, “I’m college educated, and I have no idea what is going on here, how is a kid supposed to figure it out?” But I put my thinking cap on and while waiting for those few minutes at the end of the day to go by (that 10 minutes you can’t start something but it’s too early to go home), I found Ocean! Waves for All and The Sea Knows. How-to in the sense “how to learn about the ocean when you are aged 5 to 8.” Okay, maybe I am fudging the theme a bit, but it did expand my knowledge of the ocean. Like School House Rock helped an English major understand some basic concepts that could never be taught to me by teachers (or honestly was never taught as people assumed that I already knew), these two books were educational and fun.
Ocean! Waves for All by Stacy McAnulty, with some far out illustrations from David Litchfield, is a delightful book of introducing the Ocean to a younger audience. It takes science but in a non-fiction story format to help make it less dry. And while I love the word Dude (it is very expressive when it is lightly used) the use of “dude” by Ocean was overdone and gimmicky. The Ocean tells his story and uses modern language to capture the theme. Litchfield’s art is perfectly detailed and expressive, but not over-the-top or too colorful (but does not take away from the richness of the ocean), but honestly, the Ocean’s creepy face hiding out on the pages was sometimes a bit disconcerting for this adult (yet, I do not think kids will have an issue with that). Overall, I really enjoyed this book and will be highly recommending it. The book has so much going on, McAnulty knows the subject as they have researched and has a love for the ocean. Part of the Our Universe autobiographical series, this book is a must for classrooms and for kids who like learning and/or the ocean. And while it does not rhyme, there is a bounce to the text.
Then there is The Sea Knows by Alice B. McGinty and Alan B. Havis. At first, I thought this book was not going to be educational. But it quickly became obvious that this was a book that will grow with your child. The story itself would be a great board book due to how “easy” it is. The poetry and that simple text tells how the Sea knows about the workings of itself and of oppsosites. The afterwards breaks down the poem line-by-line with never dry scientific information; always straightforward and accessible. Maybe it is not as informative as Ocean! but it still gives information in a way that the 3-to-6-year-old can take away something. Also, the beginning reader (perhaps with help) can read. But the information in the back is where the science comes into play and would be great to help introduce the subject to the kindergarten to 2nd grader (perhaps for a younger 2nd grander). Yet, this adult added to her knowledge and loved how it was the perfect companion to Ocean. Stephanie Laberis’s illustrations are as equally poetic and descriptive. They are worth the second reading so you can just explore them.