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With Halloween just around the corner, our thoughts turn to the creatures of the night. To learn more, let's take a look at two new children's books about bats.

Our first title is the picture book The Secret Life of the Little Brown Bat
by Laurence Pringle and illustrated by Kate Garchinsky, which came out in September.

 

Follow Otis the bat pup as he grows into an adult bat. Explore how he feeds, learns about dangers, finds a place to hibernate, and even how he lands upside down.

In the back matter, Pringle explains that the little bat's name comes from the generic name for the species:   Myotis lucifugus. Although the text appears to be deceptively simple, it is full of detailed scientific information dressed up in an easy-to-follow story.

Garchinsky's pastel illustrations are mesmerizing. She says in the dedication that she was inspired by her new nephew's smile. The joyous faces of the bats reflect that.

The Secret Life of the Little Brown Bat is a perfect introduction to bats for young readers.

Age Range: 6 - 9 years
Publisher: Boyds Mills Press (September 11, 2018)
ISBN-10: 9781629796017
ISBN-13: 978-1629796017

Public domain image of little brown bat by Moriarty Marvin, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Yes, little brown bats are cute.

Next we have a title for middle grade readers, Bat Citizens:  Defending the Ninjas of the Night by Rob Laidlaw.

The "bat citizens" from the title are young people from around the world who study bats and let others know how they can help conserve them. Meet Truth Miller from New York, Dara McAnulty from Northern Ireland, and Eleanor and Samson Davis from Australia, among others.

In between the descriptions of the kids and their projects are interesting facts about bats. The center features a fold-out illustration of the anatomy of a hoary bat. The back matter includes lists of 14 ways you can help bats and organizations that help bats.

Bat Citizens introduces young ambassadors for bats in a way that is likely to inspire others to get involved in science and conservation efforts. It is a great choice for budding scientists and conservationists alike.

Age Range: 8 - 12 years
Publisher: Pajama Press (May 11, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1772780391
ISBN-13: 978-1772780390

Activity Suggestions:

First, see our previous post with five bat science activity suggestions.

Bats and Plants

We've all heard about how important bats are because they eat a lot of insects, but bats also help out plants.

Pollination

Here in the Sonoran Desert, lesser long-nosed bats are nectarivores, which means they feed on the sweet fluids produced by saguaro cactus flowers. As the bats fly from plant to plant they pick up pollen and transfer it to the next flower. This pollinates the saguaro.

Over 300 species of plants, and possibly more than 500, are pollinated by bats. For example, fruit bats are the main pollinators of African baobab tree. To entice bats to visit, the flowers open at night when bats are active. They are often white and many emit strong odors that help the bats locate them.

Seed dispersal

Other bats are frugivores, which means they eat fruit. Using their large eyes and noses, the bats find and eat bananas, mangoes, guavas, figs etc. When digestion is completed, they drop the seeds with their excrement, spreading the seeds around to grow in new places.

Do your own research

Investigate a few plants that are pollinated by bats. Find out what species of bats pollinate them, where the plants grow, and what time of year they flower. Try to discover what disperses the seeds of the plant. Are there any plants that bats both pollinate and disperse the seeds?

Gather images of the plants and bats, and use them to create a poster or slide show. Be a "bat citizen" and communicate to others what you have found out about the benefits of bats .

Want to learn more? Check out our growing list of children's book about bats at Science Books for Kids.

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Last Friday I had the honor of attending a workshop by children's author Conrad Storad. Interesting fact:  In a short time he will surpass his goal of reading his books to over 1,000,000 children. Yes, that's 1 million children. Amazing!

In his newest picture book, The Bat Book illustrated by Nate Jensen and Tristan Jensen, Conrad Storad uses a story within a story format to engage young readers. He also throws lots of science into the mix.

In the book Little Boy Bat, the main character who lives under the famous Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas, decides to write a book to help humans learn bats are not frightening. The result is both enlightening and fun.

Children will probably be interested to know that Tristan Jensen was 8 years old when he did some of the illustrations for the book. His contributions are on pages 13-22, with some more detailed insets created by his dad.

The back matter is stuffed. There are two pages of "Facts to drive you batty," information on "Researching Bats," "How to Help Bats," all about Little Boy Bat (what kind of bat he is, etc.), notes from the author and illustrator about how they created the book, and "How to Draw a Bat" activity.

The Bat Book is full of passion about bats and that enthusiasm is sure to spill over to the reader. Don't be "scared" to pick a copy up today.

Related:

Previous post with loads of bat science activities

flying-dog-bat-fly(Photo via VisualHunt.com)

 

Ages: 5-10
Publisher: Sunbelt Publications (March 25, 2015)
ISBN-10: 189179566X
ISBN-13: 978-1891795664

Disclosure:  This book is my personal copy.  Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.

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Bats are so fascinating. When the National Geographic Reader Bats by Elizabeth Carney came across my desk, I knew it was time to come up with some fun science activities to do with bats.

About the book: Bats is a reader level 2, for children 4 to 8 years old. It is full of gorgeous full-color photographs, accurate scientific information, and at the top of some pages are silly riddles and jokes that kids will love. The photograph of baby fruit bats all cuddled in blankets at a bat rescue nursery is too cute for words. This book is a great way to find out more about bats!

Activities:

1. Bat Anatomy

One of the first things you notice about bats is their large wings.

(Photo from Wikimedia)

If you look closely you can see their wing is similar to our hand. The tiny hook protruding from the top is the thumb and the long, narrow "fingers" have a thin layer of skin between them. Because of this scientists gave bats the name Chiroptera, which is Greek for "hand wing."

Check this bat anatomy diagram for more details.

Gather:

  • paper
  • pencils
  • glue
  • toothpicks
  • Cotton balls
  • bat anatomy diagram

Have the children draw the outline of a bat (you might want to provide one to trace for really young children). Glue cotton balls where the body would go. Ask them to place their own hand over the wings, and figure out where the thumb and fingers should go. Glue toothpicks to represent the arm, elbow, thumb (a piece of toothpick), and fingers.

Older children may create a more complicated and detailed model. A helpful resource might be The Bat Book & See-Through Model by Luann Colombo and illustrated by Susan Hernday.

2. Different Kinds of Bats

Bats come in all sizes, shapes and colors. The largest are the fruit bats, in the group Megachiroptera. The largest can have a wingspan of six feet. The smallest bats belong to the group Microchiroptera. The tiny bumblebee bat has a body the size of a bumblebee.

Although the stereotype is of a bat living in a cave, bats may live in many places. One of my favorites is the Honduras white bat that makes a shelter out of plant fronds.

Take a look at some of the at the Bats of San Diego.

3. Bat Food

What do bats eat? A majority of bat species eat flying insects, including those pesty mosquitoes. Some eat animals such as frogs or fish. Fruit bats, as their name suggests, eat fruit.

Finger Puppet Show to Investigate Food Chains

Note: For some reason, today most of our links turned out to be direct links to .pdf files. I usually prefer to give you a link to a website, but those don't seem to be available for some of these resources.

Here's a direct link to a .pdf download for "You've Gotta Eat to Live" food chain activity with moth and bat finger puppets to make from the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum.

For an even more detailed bat finger puppet to print out,  a .PDF  link from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

4. How Bat's Find Food - Echolocation

Bats are nocturnal, they are active and looking for food at night. In the darkness, the bats produce sounds. Some of the sounds are ultrasonic, which means we can not hear them. Other sounds bats make are within our hearing range.

The bats use the ultrasonic sounds to locate their food in a process known as echolocation. Their special ears allow them to pick up the echos of the sounds they make bouncing off of nearby objects. They can detect and avoid objects as small as a human hair using only sound.

Ever play the game Marco Polo? You close your eyes and try to locate other players saying "Marco Polo?" If you have, you know how difficult it is for humans to locate objects by sound.

Can you design a cupped ear extender out of a piece of paper that might help you hear sounds from around the room or further away? Look at bat ears for inspiration.

A cool science project might be to get an ultrasonic bat detector and search for bats at night. As she says in this video, not a lot is known about bat communication.

5. Build a bat house.

We built a bat house, but then found out bats don't tend to use them in the Sonoran Desert, probably because of the heat. (Birds don't use bird houses here, either). Check around for information about bats that live near you and find out whether they will use a bat house if you provide one.

Bat House Information

For more information at websites:

Organization for Bat Conservation

And there are always a lot of good books about bats, including;
(Affiliate links go to Amazon)

The Bats book was provided for review.