One of the great things about kids is that when they get crazy enthusiastic about something it rubs on you and you develop a sudden deep interest in a subject that you never cared about before. Before kids it didn’t occur to me to give sharks much thought. Like everybody else I watched movie Jaws and thought it was a lively thriller, but that was the end of my involvement with the subject of sharks. Now thanks to kids I could fill a book with everything I know about sharks and I think they are fascinating. If you don’t think so yet read some recently discovered cool facts about sharks. You probably already know that sharks have the 6th sense or electrosensory system. But did you know that this system allows shark embryos detect when predators are next to a shark egg and they the egg can “play dead” (i.e. stop moving) to reduce the risk of being consumed? How cool is this?!
We think Shark Week a shark-tastic excuse to round up our favorite shark books, re-do all our favorite shark experiments and find something new to explore. Today we will start with the books. The books that made it in our “best” list are the ones that are exciting, meaningful, funny, provided ideas for further exploration, and made my kids want to read them over and over again.
My son thinks there are not enough books about Sharks for kids and I tend to agree with him. Right now you might be tempted to stop reading the post and go on amazon to type in “shark books for kids.” “What is she talking about,” you will exclaim, “there is plenty out here!” We read them all, so take my word for it, the first ten are exactly the same as the next one hundred. Here is the summary: the beginning of each book – sharks are not as bad as people think. Middle – white sharks eat people when hungry. End – let’s all join together to keep sharks from extinction. There! You just read one hundred books on sharks! So, this year we are hoping for more shark books to add to our ever-growing collection!
1. The Everything Kids’ Sharks Book by Kathi Wagner (5-12). That’s the best book on sharks we ever came across. Not only it’s written with humor, there is a ton of useful information and fun facts. And to top it all off there are puzzles, exercises, multiple choice questions, tongue twisters (“Shark-shaped ships are hard to sink, I think”) and other super fun shark activities. The book is divided into ten exciting sections, such as Dynamic Design and The Survival Instinct. Basically, by the time you make it to the end of the book, it’s time to start reading it from the beginning again.
2. Sharks Scholastic Discover more series by David Burnie
3. Smiley Shark by Ruth Galloway (2-8). It’s a cute little board book that is fun enough for older kids. Smiley Shark has trouble making friends because everyone is scared of him. But a winning smile and a good heart saves the day and brings friends. This book makes my kids smile every time we read it.
3. Hark! A Shark! All About Sharks (A Cat in the Hat learning library) by Bonnie Worth (3-8). The book is written in imitation of Dr. Seuss books. Some say it’s not as good, but I think it is pretty good. Yes, the rhyming might be a bit off at times, but it doesn’t matter because book still provides a lot of interesting information about all kinds of sharks in a fun way. The illustrations are great. They make my kids giggle, point, ask questions, start discussions and that’s what I want from illustrations. The book also includes glossary of terms and suggestions for further reading.
4. Hungry, Hungry Sharks! by Joanna Cole (4-8). This Step into Reading level 3 book is full of interesting information and engaging pictures. From why sharks are the wolves of the sea (they follow ships in packs hoping for garbage) to why shark babies are born alive (most sharks do not lay eggs like other fish). The only thing that rubbed me the wrong way was the statement that sharks have small brains. It’s inaccurate statement. Many sharks have brains as big as mammals’ brain compared to body size. Also, sharks with brains smaller relative to it’s body size are still very smart. They have been around since dinosaur times, only dinosaurs died out and sharks didn’t, which shows they are not that dump. I explained this to my kids and now they know that they don’t have to believe everything a book says. They can pull the same information from a different source and compare the finds. In all other regards this is a great book. I especially appreciated the illustrations of a whale shark on top of a bus and a dwarf shark in a palm of a hand. These were a powerful images that stayed with my kids for a long time. I wish this book came with an I Can Read CD companion like some other Step Into Reading Books.
5. The secret lives of sharks by Peter Kimley (7 and up). This book is great for older kids. And for their parents! From page one when author describes his first encounter with a shark attack I couldn’t stop reading it. At first I wondered if this book was a bit too grown up for my seven year old, but he loved it. I asked him what he likes so much about this book and he said, “I already know about sharks, but I don’t know what it’s like to be a scientist studying sharks.” One interesting tidbit: Did you know that sharks actually go for weeks without eating anything? I only wish this book was available in audio format because now my son wants to read it again! We dedicate one hour a day to reading book, but since younger kids are not ready for this level we had to add an additional hour a day to get through this book. It took us over a month to finish it! I guess it’s not as bad as one Arctic Sea adventures book that took us half a year to complete.
6. Sharks (Smart Kids) by Roger Priddy (3-7). We love all Roger Priddy books and this one didn’t disappoint us. It has beautiful photographs and bite sized portions of facts. We read it one hundred times and I see another hundred times in the future.
7. Time for kids: Sharks (4-8). We didn’t learn anything new from this book, but I’m including it because my son loves the illustrations and can look at them for hours.
8. Uncover a Shark by David George Gordon (4-9). This book does fall apart easily, but nothing that glue gun can not fix. The 3-D model of a shark provides endless fascination. We buy this book for all our friends who like sharks because of its “Cool!” factor.
9. The Three Little Fish and the big bad shark by Will Grace (4-8). The classical story of Three Little Pigs gets a makeover. I don’t know why but my kids go crazy for all books that offer classical children’s stories with a new twist. They couldn’t get enough of No Paint! where the illustrator of Three Little Pigs run out of paint and started to improvise with the story line. And they can’t get enough of this one where three little pigs become three little fish and the big bad wolf turns into a big bad shark. Both my kids think it’s a hoot.
10. Magic School Bus: On the Ocean Floor by Joanna Cole. You can’t understand sharks without first understanding what oceans are like. And anything that involves Magic School Bus becomes a hit in our family.
11. Surprising Sharks by Nicola Davies (4-8). We would have loved this book just for fun illustrations, humor and informative writing, but it packs an extra punch by coming with a read-along CD with music and facts. We got this book three weeks ago and it’s been in a constant use ever since. I think all of the books in Candlewick Read and Wonder series are worthy of your time.
12. Amazing Sharks by Sarah L. Thomson (4-8). This book by Wildlife Conservation Society has standard information about sharks: what they eat, how they are build, and how scientists study them. The nice thing about this book is that it’s written for I Can Read Series: Level 2 developing readers with pronunciation guides for words like electricity and cartilage. So, if you have a reluctant reader, this book about exciting sharks might give them a necessary boost.
If you are interested in sharks, you might like this simple Shark Science experiment to demonstrate the concept of buoyancy.
I would love to hear about your favorite SHARK books! Leave a comment!