Poke & Look Learning Books

Find helpful suggestions for using these books to open doors to nonfiction subjects in a way that is both informative and fun.
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Look Inside an Airplane
The history and mystery, mechanics and dynamics of flight are presented here in easy-to-understand terms, along with information about the people who make flight safe and enjoyable.

Using the book
Before you read, ask children to tell about any plane trips they have taken. Talk about other things that fly – hot air balloon, helicopter, dirigible, glider, rocket, bird, bat, insect.

1. Children can design and color their own flying machines. Have on hand a copy of Zoom! (Grosset & Dunlap, 1991, $7.95), an inexpensive paper airplane craft book, which comes with plenty of paper and easy directions for making a variety of interesting airplane designs.

2. The finished airplanes can be taken out to the playground and tested. Which ones fly best?

Look How a Baby Grows
A broad answer to the question "Where do babies come from?" – full of just enough information to satisfy young minds about genetic likenesses and differences, twins, how different animals are born, how a baby grows inside, changes in the mother, and what to expect when a baby is born.

Using the book
Before you read, ask children if they know where they were before they were born.

1. During storytime, invite sharing of experiences; children will love telling about their own birth, the birth of a sibling, the birth of kittens or puppies - or guppies!

2. A parent may be willing to bring in a baby brother or sister for "show and tell" and help to answer children's questions about care of a baby.

Look Inside a House
Shows how a house is built - laying the foundation, erecting the walls, putting in pipes, wiring, and insulation, and finally decorating to make the house pretty and comfortable for people.

Using the book
Before you read, invite discussion of the different kinds of houses people live in and how those houses might have been built. Discuss equipment that might have been needed (crane, dump truck, diggers), materials (stone, brick, wood, cement), and so on.

1. Animals have houses, too. Many are built by the animals themselves. Show pictures of a bird nest, a chimpanzee nest, a beaver dam, a beehive, an ant hill, a spider web.

2. Explain how each animal constructs its house, and encourage children to look for some of these special places in their own back yard or neighborhood.

Look Inside Your Brain
What makes you laugh at a funny joke? What makes your heart beat? Your brain! Your brain controls everything your body does, and this book explains it all in simple terms.

Using the book
Before you read, discuss with your class what they think the brain is for.

1. List their answers. After reading the book, ask the same question and point out all the things they have learned - with their brains!

2. Play a "brain game." Ask children to identify different fruits with their eyes closed to understand how the brain gets messages through the senses of taste, smell, and touch.

Look Inside Your Body
A first look at what's inside the human body, and how all our parts work together to enable us to eat, breathe, move, and sense the world around us.

Using the book
Before you read, let children name parts of the body that we can see on the outside. What's inside? How do we know? Why is it important to know what's inside us?

1. With a toy stethoscope, children can listen to their heart and lungs.

2. Ask children to check triceps as they lift something heavy, to feel their ribs and other bones, to watch what happens to their abdomens as they breathe in and out.

Look Inside a Ship
Tells what ships are made of, how they move, who works on them, where they go, and what they carry.

Using the book
Before you read, ask children to think of different kinds of water transport - from rowboat to submarine.

1. Take an imaginary cruise aboard a ship, encouraging children to load the cargo, hoist the sail, blow the whistle, swab the deck, start the engines, steer away from icebergs, look for land, and so on.

2. Do a simple science experiment to find out what floats and what does not float.

3. Begin a unit on transportation. Children could cut out pictures of flying, floating, and rolling vehicles to glue on a mural, with water at the bottom, and land, air, and space above it.

Look Inside a Car
Cars have come a long way since the first "horseless carriages." This book explains what the first cars were like, then tells how cars work today. Topics include car parts, engine mechanics, driving, rules of the road, and car racing too.

Using the book
Before you read, discuss with your class how people got around before cars were invented. Help children understand how this one amazing invention has affected so many aspects of our lives.

1. The book has a section on rules of the road - a good place to talk about children's safety in the streets.

2. Discuss the meaning of the various signs and signals in the neighborhood and what children should expect from drivers, or do themselves, when crossing streets.

Look Inside the Earth
Here is a look not only inside the earth, but also outside and all around it! This book covers what the earth is made of, its natural resources, force systems such as gravity, weather, earthquakes and volcanoes, the solar system, and why we must preserve our planet.

Using the book
Before you read, you might show children a globe and find the spot on it where you live.

1. Keep recycling bins in the classroom so children become accustomed to saving used and leftover materials. Each person can help the earth in his own way!

2. Set an example by creatively re-using milk containers as planters, old paper for notes, and so on.

Let's Look at Dinosaurs
A fascinating first look at these amazing prehistoric creatures. How do we know they existed? What did they look like and eat? Why are there no dinosaurs today?

Using the book
Before you read, let children tell you what they know about dinosaurs. Explain that dinosaurs were real animals that lived on the earth before people. You might encourage discussion of "real" and "make-believe."

1. Ask children to make their favorite dinosaurs out of clay and place them creatively in a class "Dinosaur Land" spread out on a table.

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Penguin Young Readers Group

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The Penguin Group is the second-largest English-language trade book publisher in the world. The company possesses perhaps the world's most prestigious list of best-selling authors and a backlist of unparalleled breadth, depth, and quality. Penguin Young Readers Group features books by authors and illustrators including Judy Blume, Brian Jacques, Eric Carle, and beloved characters like Winnie-the-Pooh, Madeline, The Little Engine that Could, and many, many more.
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