Calling Nonfiction Readers! Smithsonian Readers, Early Adventures, Level One edited by Adria Klein.
With the current emphasis on reading for content, nonfiction books for preschoolers through Grade 2 must be written to entertain, but also to contribute to education in the STEM curriculum--science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Just published today, Smithsonian Readers: Early Adventures Level 1 (Smithsonian Enterprises/Silver Dolphin Books, 2015) offers simple sentence structure and promises controlled vocabulary and "phonic regularity," while providing supplementary curriculum-related information on some favorite subjects of emergent and early independent readers.
Each section of Early Adventures--Habitats, Outer Space, Vehicles, Reptiles, Safari Animals, and Insects--is filled with dozens of colored photos and the sort of subject matter kids seek out on their own--cobras and comets, bulldozers and black mamba snakes, space stations and praying mantises. Each section has its own glossary, review and self-test questions, and six punch-out cards for review with a partner or alone.
The separate divisions also break down into natural sub-sections: for example, Habitats (and animals living therein) includes Rain Forests, Savannas, Extreme Deserts, Forests, Mountains, Polar Regions, Islands, Freshwater Lakes, Ponds, and Rivers, Wetlands and Swamps, Coastal Waters and Tidal Pools, Coral Reefs, Open Oceans, and Protecting Animal Habitats. Animals typical of each habitat, such as polar bears and penguins from the Arctic and Antarctic, are presented with the characteristics which adapt them to each environment. Vocabulary critical to the concepts presented is stressed in bold face, used and defined naturally within the text and offered for review in the related glossary and review questions.
Along with separate volumes for Level 2-4, this book comes as a kit, with a supplement which contains a multi-page sticker book to reinforce identification skills and a framed "playscene" with 3-D stickers and two metal cases of "magnetic adventures" on the the Solar System and the Jungle, each with their own guidebook, 30 foam magnets and 20 reusable clings, Additionally, Grade 4 and 5 levels even get Everything You Need to Know, a kit of 275 fact cards in 18 categories, including weather, the human body, natural wonders of the world, U. S. presidents, and ancient times.
The complete set is a substantial supplement to classroom textbooks and would be especially useful for home schooling students and eager independent learners.