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Children interested in trees? Thinking of doing a tree study unit? Here are some great books about trees for children. We're posting this list to celebrate the Festival of the Trees blog carnival that we're hosting this weekend.

Nonfiction Books:

Life Cycle of a Tree The Life Cycle of a Tree by Bobbie Kalman, Kathryn Smithyman, and Barbara Bedell (illustrator) has beautiful photographs and full-color illustrations. The chapters cover such topics as what is a tree, what is a life cycle, and how seeds move. This is a great informational book.
A-Log's-Life A Log's Life by Wendy Pfeffer, and illustrated by Robin Brickman is for young children who enjoy turning over rocks and looking under logs. This book talks about the importance of the tree, and the log that remains after the tree falls, to the community of animals, plants and fungi around it. The illustrations are unique 3D paper sculptures.
A-tree-is-growing A Tree Is Growing by Arthur Dorros and illustrated by S.D. Schindler is suitable for a range of audiences. It follows an oak tree through the seasons. Along the way are interesting sidebars of other species. Did you know that baobab trees store water in their trunks and actually swell up? The paper is dark and the illustrations are not the bright primary colors associated with picture books, but are very lifelike.
be-a-friend-to-trees Be a Friend to Trees (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out, Stage 2) by Patricia Lauber, and illustrated by Holly Keller, is part of the popular Let's-Read-and-Find-Out-Science series. The emphasis of this book is how useful trees are. Starting with products and foods we use that come from trees, Lauber then devotes several pages to how many animals need trees for food and homes. Finally she moves to less concrete benefits of trees, such as holding soil and water, and producing oxygen. The last three pages are devoted to simple ideas of how you can be a friend to trees through activities like recycling and planting a tree.
Tree-of-life Tree of Life: The World of the African Baobab (Tree Tales) is written and illustrated by Barbara Bash. The baobab tree survives in a harsh environment and is leafless for most of the year. In fact, legend says that the tree was planted upside down. From this beginning, Bash relates the story the life cycle of the tree and all the creatures that depend on it. The watercolors are beautiful.
cactus Hotel Cactus Hotel (Big Book) by Brenda Z. Guiberson and illustrated by Megan Lloyd discusses the life cycle of a saguaro. It's easy to forget that a cactus like a saguaro can be a tree. Once again, this book covers the life cycle of a unique plant found in a harsh environment that is home to many creatures.
planting-trees-in-kenya Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai (Frances Foster Books) by Caire A. Nivola tells the story of Wangari Maathai, who won the Nobel Peace prize in 2004. Maathai returned to Kenya after studying abroad, to find the trees gone and the people struggling. She encouraged everyone to plant trees again to restore their environment. The nice thing about this book is that it is printed on recycled paper.
tell-me-tree Tell Me, Tree: All About Trees for Kids by Gail Gibbons
Starting out with general information abut parts of trees, such as seeds, leaves, bark and roots, Gibbons emphasizes identifying trees. She illustrates the overall shape, leaves and bark of sixteen different trees (although she also identifies leaves and trees throughout the earlier pages as well.) At the end she shows how to make your own tree identification book with pressed leaves, and leaf and bark rubbings. The last page is full of unusual and interesting facts about trees, sure to entice children to want to find out more.
life-cycle-oak-tree Life Cycle of an Oak Tree (Life Cycle of a...) by Angela Royston. Starting out with an acorn, and following an oak tree through its life cycle until it is hundreds of years old, the young reader learns both about the developmental process and the vocabulary needed to discuss it. The centerpiece of the story is an English oak, which can live for 900 years. What a venerable tree!Illustrated with clear, colorful photographs, and with a timeline on each page, the book is visually appealing.
Sky-tree Sky Tree: Seeing Science Through Artby Thomas Locker and Candace Christiansen follows a tree through the seasons. Although frankly more about art than science, this book is likely to lead to discussions of art techniques and the changes that occur during the seasons.
poetrees Poetrees by Douglas Florian is as the title implies, a book of poems about trees. Florian includes poems about trees from around the world like the banyan and monkey puzzle, not just common North American ones. The layout consists of vertical, two-page spreads, giving the feel of looking at a tall tree. If you are familiar with Florian’s illustrations, you will recognize his unconventional art.
Leaf-man Leaf Man (Ala Notable Children's Books. Younger Readers (Awards)) by Lois Ehlert is inspiring because the author is such a wonderful artist. In this book, we see leaf shapes with added plant materials that form a funny leaf man. When the wind comes up, who knows where the leaf man is going to go.

If you would like to see more information about each book, click on the linked title, which will take you to the Amazon website. See the financial disclosure page for more information about my affiliation with Amazon.Please let us know if you have any favorite books about trees to add to the list.

This-Tree-Counts This Tree Counts! by Alison Formento and illustrated Sarah Snow is a counting book that shows all the creatures that depend on the oak tree behind the Oak Lane School. After counting all the creatures and learning about uses of trees, the children plant "baby trees."
we-planted-a-tree We Planted a Tree by Diane Muldrow and illustrated by Bob Staake is a picture book with poetic text. It shows two families who plant trees, one in New York City and one in Kenya, then follows with trees growing throughout the world.
Our-tree-named-steve Our Tree Named Steve by Alan Zweibel and illustrated by David Catrow is a bittersweet story about the loss of a tree that meant a lot to a family. You might want to read this one first if your children tend to be sensitive, to see whether it is appropriate.
Leaf-and-Tree Backyard Explorer Kit: 3-in-1 Collector's Kit! by Rona Beame is for children who love hands on activities and want to learn more about trees. The kit includes a 3 1/2 by 8 inch Leaf and Tree Guide to trees (that will conveniently fit in a pocket or backpack), a plastic leaf-collecting bag, and an unbound 25 page Leaf Collecting Album. The guide has information about trees, how to identify a number of common species (with color photographs of specimens), and 16 hands-on activities.
Trees, Leaves and Bark Trees, Leaves & Bark (Take-Along Guide) by Diane Burns and illustrated by Linda Garrow is useful as a first identification guide to a few common North American trees.
leaf-jumpers Leaf Jumpersby Carole Gerber and Leslie Evans is a simple, poetic introduction to identification eight types of fall leaves. Leaves shown include ginkgo, sycamore, and basswood. Then the children sweep up leaves and jump into the pile.

Edit: If this list is hard to read or becomes outdated, we are now maintaining it at Science Books for Kids.

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The fun thing about Bug of the Week is that sometimes you spot a critter that has been there all along, you just haven't paid attention to it before. Today's spider is an example of this. Here's a little spider that has built a web in the corner and is hanging from it.

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It is a tiny little spider, it's body is less than 1/3 of an inch long. I have seen these spiders many times before with their long front legs stretched out in front, but they are so small, I never really looked at them carefully.

spider2

In a closer view you can see the front legs have a soft, feathery appearance, which led to the common name of feather-legged orb weaver. They are also called cribellate orb weavers.

spider3

It's amazing when you look at a macro photograph how the color and details pop out.

I learned from Nature at Close Range that the cribellate orb weavers have no venom, but catch their prey in the hairy front legs.

Now that I have been formally introduced to my fuzzy little neighbor, I'll be sure to pay more attention to it in the future.

If you or your children are interested in learning more about your spider neighbors, try:

I have more information about these books at baby spiders and some books.

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This week for Meet A Scientist Monday let's take a look at a book that introduces us to ten women scientists.

Super Women in Science by Kelly Di Domenico contains the biographies of women scientists who made outstanding contributions to their fields of study. Starting with the tragic story of Hypatia, born in the year 355, through the first African-American woman in space, Mae Jemison, this book briefly summarizes the lives of women in the light of the times in which they lived. Each chapter summarizes the life of a single woman, listed in chronological order.super-women-in-science

Some of the women, like Rachel Carson, are household names. In other cases the author has chosen a less well-known scientist. For example, instead of a biography of primatologist Jane Goodall, Di Domenico introduces us to Birute Galdikas, a woman who studies orangutans in a similar ground-breaking way that Goodall studies chimpanzees. It is fun to learn about someone new.

Most of the women had to struggle against bias to continue working in science. For example, Maria Goeppert-Mayer won the Nobel Prize in 1963 for physics, but had to work as a volunteer because no university would hire her early in her career. Hearing the same setbacks due to gender bias again and again is a bit disheartening, but it does reflect the realities of the times.

Part of the high-quality Women's Hall of Fame Series, this particular volume does have a few minor flaws. For example, in the second chapter on fossil-hunter Mary Anning, some of the scientific names are not properly capitalized. The list of sources in the back, however, are extremely helpful for children who get excited about the life of one of these women and want to find out more.

Super Women in Science is likely to be inspiring not only children interested in science, but also those interested in history. Although listed as a middle grade book, I think older children will also find it useful.

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 102 pages
Publisher: Second Story Press (January 1, 2001)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1896764665
ISBN-13: 978-1896764665

nonfictionmonday

This post was prepared for Nonfiction Monday, a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. (I usually participate in this carnival at my Wrapped in Foil blog.) For more information, stop by Anastasia Suen's Nonfiction Monday page. This week's carnival is at Bookish Blather.

Thanks to the publisher for providing this older book for review.