Monday, January 25, 2010

Nonfiction Monday: Magic Tree House Research Guides

Happy Nonfiction Monday! Today I'd like to post about a nonfiction series that is quite popular at my library: The Magic Tree House Research Guides by Mary Pope Osborne and some of them with Will Osborne and some of them with Natalie Pope Boyce.

Each research guide is written to go along with one of the books in the Magic Tree House series. The guides use the characters of Jack and Annie to present information on the topics in the books. The guides are written in short chapters and include illustrations, just like the Magic Tree House books, making them accessible to curious young readers. The usage of beloved characters provides a jumping off point, making the Research Guides attractive to kids who may not otherwise think about picking up a nonfiction book about space, Ancient Greece, or penguins.

I looked at three books in the series: Space: A Nonfiction Companion to Midnight on the Moon, Tsunamis and Other Natural Disasters: A Nonfiction Companion to High Tide in Hawaii, and Sea Monsters: A Nonfiction Companion to Dark Day in the Deep Sea.

Space starts with the history of space exploration. It provides information about the stars and planets and about space travel. While the book was published in 2002 and some facts may be out of date (according to the book the Very Large Telescope is still being built and Pluto is the smallest planet, although "Many astronomers today think Pluto shouldn't be called a planet at all!"), it's still a useful introduction.

Tsunamis and Other Natural Disasters begins with information about the 2004 tsunami that hit several countries in the Pacific. Each chapter takes on a different type of natural disaster including tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes, mudslides, and avalanches. The text touches on how scientists try to predict such disasters and what to do if you find yourself in the middle of one.

Sea Monsters presents information about many different kinds of animals that live in the sea, including squid, octopi, and creatures that live in the depths of the ocean. It also includes information on prehistoric animals that once swam and various myths and legends about sea monsters.

These books are perfect to pair with the Magic Tree House fiction series and they may inspire kids to do some of their own research on topics that interest them. I'd certainly add them to your library or classroom shelves if you don't have them already. They could also be great reading for families with Magic Tree House fans.

It's Nonfiction Monday, so check out the roundup over at Playing by the Book to see what nonfiction the KidLitosphere has been reading this week!