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 While the book was published in 2002 and some facts may be out of date (according to the book the Very Large Telescope is still being built and Pluto is the smallest planet, although "Many astronomers today think Pluto shouldn't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!


Zoe @ Playing by the book said...

Hi Abby,
Linking the nonfiction books to the fiction ones seems like a great idea to entice readers - in fact, it might be an idea I copy on my blog when I review fiction!

Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

I've always wondered about these - as my kid loves the fiction books in the series so much.
thanks for all you do,

Sarah N. said...

We love these research guides. We read the Sea Monsters one while studying sea creatures and we used the one on Pilgrims as part of our Thanksgiving study in combination with the fiction book, Thanksgiving on Thursday. We're going to be using the Dinosaurs guide as we study dinosaurs over the coming weeks.

NatalieSap said...

Library question for you - are these shelved next to the Magic Tree House series books or wherever they fall topically in nonfiction? Not so popular at my last library, but I suspect it was because they were hiding in nonfiction...

Abby said...

Natalie, we shelve ours in the nonfiction under whatever subject they're about. Ours circ regularly, but I know we have at least one family that discovered them and always asks for them, so maybe word of mouth is helping them out!

Bill said...

These are pretty big in my library as well. I love to catch a kid with a Magic Tree House story book and then hook them on the non-fiction companion of the same story. They almost always come back for more of the non-fiction titles.

Mama Librarian said...

I love a connection between fiction and nonfiction. We have the whole series in our (school) library, but I am sorry to say they don't circulate nearly as well. Perhaps I should pull them and provide a basket of them in the same section with the Magic Treehouse books!

Michelle The Artist said...

Wow, my kids actually love these kind of books, I'm going to have to pick them up.