do entomologists bud?


We recently got the book Bugs Before Time by Cathy Camper, which is about insects in the pre-historic age. Both my kids are really into it–it’s a picture book, which the Potato likes (plus it’s about bugs! and dinosaurs! what could make an almost-four-year-old happier?), and it’s filled with tons of cool facts, which the Bee is into. For example–there were once water-based scorpions bigger than your bathtub wandering the face of the earth. Also, six-foot-long millipedes. Ew. The pictures are really cool, though.

It occurred to me, after we got it, that while there are tons of great kids’ fiction books out there that are age-appropriate for the Bee, I haven’t been that thrilled with the science writing for the tweener set. I suppose there are those who would consider a book about bugs from the pre-historic era to be fiction, but we’re a pro evolution family here in landisville.

There are tons of good little kid science books, but most of our older kid science library is made up of books that landisdad had when he was a kid. I assume that part of the reason for this is that I’m prejudiced in favor of fiction, so those tend to be the kinds of books I like to buy, but I also suspect that it’s due to a lack of good writing aimed at this market. Most of the science books I see have titles like Gross!, and just don’t seem that interesting. I’m also really not that into things like Science for Girls, although I am interested in teaching science to my girl. It’s the segregating of science into a girl/boy thing that I can’t countenance.

We had a block party yesterday, and one of the moms had gone to the dollar store and gotten a bunch of little toys for all the kids to play with. After the Potato finished freezing himself in the various kiddie pools, he picked up a bug collecting kit, and spent easily an hour trying to catch ants and other various insects. Finally, his dad caught a firefly for him at dusk, and we spent some time talking about how its body looked, and the similarities between the firefly and the pre-historic insects (look! an abdomen!). He kept the firefly overnight, but we let it go this morning–I told him that I didn’t know what fireflies ate, so we needed to let it fly away to find something to eat.

I like it when my kids are curious about the world, whether it’s the world today or the world of 300 million years ago.
PS–Happy Father’s Day!


June 17, 2007. books for kids.


  1. Comfort Addict replied:

    I agree. Curiosity is a fuel for learning, a habit to develop early and continue through life.

  2. Staci replied:

    Science for Girls? That is annoying. That said, this girl isn’t a big fan of Science! I’m always having to read facts about bugs and dinosaurs and pirates, and I’m always begging, Can’t we just read a STORY tonight??? Mama likes STORIES!!!

  3. Kimberly replied:

    You know that I’m prejudiced towards fiction as well, so I hear ya. I’ve found some great math books (the Sir Comfirence ones) and there are some fabulous history books out there, but I agree, finding good, interesting science books for the tweens can be tough. I’ll look around, see what I’ve got, and see if I can make any recommendations.

  4. thordora replied:

    Our house in inundated with bug and animal books of all kinds, and they aren’t usually kid books either, since the ones we can find Vivian isn’t concerned with. But I have found some awesome “Why is this/what is this” books that help me start to discuss some of the usual kid questions, and begin the science dialogue.

    My attempt at explaining basic math using cookies failed yesterday though. But I don’t want my girls to think science or math is especially hard, even though Mommy got terribly marks. I’m excited to start buying the “Eyewitness” books since I love them. 🙂

    The bug conversations are amusing in our house-she’s currently obsessed with ant hills.

    man to be four again.

  5. Jody replied:

    There’s a very new science books’ prize being awarded at

    There are two year’s worth of winners now, and several sets of middle-grade/young adult nominees. Maybe Amazon would be able to build off those books to suggest more?

    We were just reading “Born with a Bang,” which is an interesting book, because it’s the story of the universe’s emergence as told by the universe. Atheists will be irritated by the pagan element of that (I dreamed of you…) and theists will maybe have trouble explaining why the universe talks this way. Pagans will be thrilled. My kids had some questions, but I’m still glad I bought it. Wilder has been paging through and looking at the pictures on his own.

    I should have gotten “From Lava to Life” when I bought “Born with a Bang,” because BwaB stops just after the earth is created, and leave you hanging. I’m not sure if we’ll get the last in the trilogy (Mammals Who Morph), though, because “Our Family Tree: An Evolution Story” and “Life on Earth: The Story of Evolution” get better reviews.

    Can I confess my ignorance and say that the endnotes in Born with a Bang explained stuff that I hadn’t known?

  6. Ashley replied:

    My kids have gotten into a series called “Mickey Wonders Why”. They all have neat facts about all sorts of things.. like “How do birds fly” or “Why do tigers have stripes”. Not just about animals, but about volcanos, tornados, etc. They’re a somewhat older series, but you could check ebay and such for them. Both of my guys enjoy them.

    It’s great that the Potato was so interested in bugs. It just shows that learning can indeed be fun.

  7. Kerri Roberts replied:

    I was so excited to ready your post this morning and see all of the other great bug/science book suggestions. My nieces and nephews are into all of that stuff and I always have a hard time finding something really great for them. I am heading over to amazon as soon as I can.

    On a bug free topic…I found your post and thought I’d reach out to say hello and ask if you’d like to receive a free Maya & Miguel DVD. If you’d like to receive the DVD just email me at Kerri at with your address and I’ll have it shipped it out to you.

    I don’t know if you’re familiar with Maya & Miguel, a show on PBS in the afternoons — — that emphasizes cultural diversity and language learning but I’m reaching out to talk to parents about the program as part of a marketing project I’m working on with Scholastic.

    If you do choose to blog about Maya & Miguel show or episodes on the DVD, please make it clear how you received the information. Our goal is to be open and honest with everyone we reach.

    Kerri Roberts, BoldMouth

  8. Library Lady replied:

    I’ll try to come up with some suggestions for you when I get back to work. Authors that come up immediately to mind are Gail Gibbons and Franklyn Branley. How old is “older kids” to you? Some people think that means 10 or 11, but I work with everyone from babies to teens!

  9. MrPages replied:

    Just to let you know, one of your previous commenters, Kerri Roberts, is a paid blog-spammer. Her company does viral marketing, and she makes innocent one-shot comments on blogs and them pastes in the Maya and Miguel DVD stuff.

    I’ve already complained to PBS kids, and I think you should too. Your tax dollars, and possibly your direct donations, are being used to hire spammers.

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