The Icky Bug Counting Book

While cleaning out our many bookshelves last week, I ran across a book called The Icky Bug Counting Book. I have no idea where it came from; at first I thought it was a book my parents had purchased my daughter at a book fair, but it was written in 1992, so I now think it must have been in one of our many “bargain book” purchases, or big boxes of books that we buy at yard sales now and then for a few dollars.

If you have a bug lover on your hands, Jerry Pallotta’s book is definitely for you. It’s a counting book, sure; it starts at zero and goes all of the way up to 26 (Pallotta tells you why on the last page in a sort of riddle, which is fun). But it’s much more than that. It’s a book that actually tells you lots of cool facts about each insect that it counts, which will surely be fascinating for your young entomologist.

For example, number one is one Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly. The fun fact that butterflies taste things with their feet is revealed, which will surely make kids squeal! Each page features a similar insect and fact, which I love because it’s engaging without being overwhelming. A big list of facts gets old quickly; my daughter and I love to check out such books but we rarely read through the bulk of them in their entirety. On the butterfly page, after the fact is presented, the author asks if the readers can picture themselves tasting treats like ice cream with their own feet. I really like this imaginative approach.

Other bugs that children will learn about in the book, which features illustrations by Ralph Masiello, include Yellowjacket Flies, Crab Spiders, Paper Wasps, Underwing Moths, Monarch Butterflies, and several other species. I had never heard of the Trap Jaw Ant, which catches other bugs in its mouth. The term Question Mark Caterpillar (as well as its adult form, the Question Mark Butterfly) was completely new to me as well.

Even though it’s called an icky book, this counting book really doesn’t have any gross photos or too-gross facts; in fact, it’s quite friendly, with muted yet lovely illustrations and engaging text. I think both boys and girls would enjoy reading this book, and one of the beauties of it is that you can use it for younger children who want to learn to count—with or without including the fun facts—as well as with older kids who just want to learn the funny things about the bugs inside.

1000 Facts About the Earth

Every year, we buy my daughter a whole bunch of books from the library, where we can get children’s books for ten cents each (provided that they are softcover). We usually get her twenty or thirty of them for this extremely cheap cost; this year we were even able to get her some wonderful books to read when she’s older, like Ramona Forever and Bridget to Terabithia. Among this year’s books were lots of science-based editions, since my daughter loves nature, animals, and science in general. One of the books was Moira Butterfield’s 1000 Facts About the Earth.

The book is thin, so you have to wonder how on Earth are there 1,000 facts inside. Don’t worry about having a thousand tiny facts crammed into the material; instead, each fact fits very well in an attractive arrangement with full-color illustrations and child-friendly strange but true facts. Nearly any topic that children are interested is covered, from space to dinosaurs, oceans to the weather, plants to polar regions and more. Simple diagrams and pictographs are portrayed for children to easily plot the center of the Earth or the inside of a volcano, as well as the epicenter of an earthquake.

Rain forest animals and people are included in the book as are ways to help these areas and the earth itself. My daughter was interested in discovering that the cloves and cashews we use in crafts and cooking come from the rain forests. I would have loved corresponding experiments or activities to go along with each section in the book, but it’s already do full of information that it probably would have turned each two-page spread into a three-page section instead. The information is also very basic and introductory; if you want to do an in-depth exploration, you’ll definitely want to check out additional materials.

Science buffs will find much of the information they crave in the book, while homeschoolers can find nearly all of the material they need for their first couple of years of science education. In fact, one single page has so much information that it could be broken down into a week’s worth of curriculum if desired. Add a couple of experiments, field trips, and videos, and you’ve got your science materials set! I recommend The Usborne Book of Science Experiments as well as The Potato Chip Science Book, our two current favorites; you can also find just about anything you want to do at Instructables or Youtube.