Welcome to November edition of Poppins Book Nook. The topic for this month is “Pets”, and I wanted to share a couple of book ideas for elementary school students. Disclosure: I am an Amazon affiliate and the post below contains affiliate links.
Non-Fiction About Pets
“Pets” topic in Poppins Book Nook was a lucky coincidence for us, since Smarty had another book report assignment in her second grade. She needed to read a non-fiction book about any animal, and share three facts from the book in her report. She chose cats as a topic (she is a cat person!), and she read several non-fiction books about cats. She choose to write a book report on Dogs and Cats by Steve Jenkins. Torn paper collages are beautiful, and the book is also creatively constructed as a flip-over book that has information about cats on one side and information about dogs on the other side. Striking illustrations and relatively short fact bites make this book appropriate for children as young as 3+.
Easy Chapter Books About Pets
I want to recommend The Puppy Place series by Ellen Miles for children who progressed beyond first chapter books. They are gentle, there is usually a very light mystery present, and a lot of puppy (sometimes kitty) cuteness. There is also some good advice about dealing with young dogs and cats. My daughter read pretty much every one of these books in our library, but Mocha was new (book #29 in the series), and it was a great find, since the events in the book take place around Thanksgiving.
Books About Pets Grade 2 and Up
I included Vet Volunteers by Laurie Halse Anderson in my list of recommendations for advanced readers, because they are recommended by Amazon for grades 4 and up, and longer than easier chapter books. Smarty is enjoying these books even though she is slightly annoyed that narration shifts between different characters in different books. In the first book in the series main characters are in the middle of 5th grade, and there is a fair amount of character development as well as information about how to care properly for different animals.
Animal Ark is an older series by Ben M. Baglio. It’s quite similar to Vet Volunteers, but is set in England. The language and some of the situations are also more complex than Vet Volunteers and more appropriate for kids 8+ (Amazon recommended age). That said, my daughter read some of the books in Animal Ark when she was 5 and was able to retell me the stories. It could be an interesting exercise to compare and contrast a story from Vet Volunteers with a story from Animal Ark – we might get to it later this year.
Playing a Vet (and a Sneaky Writing Practice)
Of course, a natural activity for all these books was playing a vet. We assembled a vet kit with some empty medicine bottles packed with beads, medicine syringes, and our trusted doctor kit from Learning Resources. Poor stuffed bear was very sick indeed with every possible injury and disease. Luckily, our vet had everything she needed to treat him.
Smarty was a reluctant writer in earlier grades. She is much better now, but I still try to incorporate as much “play” writing as possible in our afterschool. That’s why her vet kit also included a “prescription pad” and a doctor journal for reporting observations and recording diagnosis. She really enjoyed this part of the game and wrote a very long prescription for her patient complete with instructions on how often to take all the meds. I love to see how her writing is evolving both in self-directed play and in assigned school activities.