June 16, 2016

Newly Revised Non-fiction Readers

Are you familiar with DK Books? No? Check out this video...

I have several of these wonderful non-fiction books about various topics: Ancient Egypt, Joan of Arc, Rocks and Minerals, Human Body, et al. Besides being attractive, the books are packed with informational text, photos, and text features that call out to students, "READ ME!" Even our Social Studies text (as old as it is), Prentice Hall's "The Ancient World", features DK material. When Stephanie, and later Elena, from PR by the Book contacted me to ask if I would like to review the newly revised DK Readers, I jumped at the chance.

Stephanie's original message contained the following...
An innovative range of early reading books, DK Readers combine a highly visual approach with nonfiction stories that children want to read. Each book is written and reviewed by literacy experts, and contains a glossary and index, making them the perfect choice for helping develop strong reading habits among kids ages 4–12.

Fifteen years ago, DK helped revolutionize the way kids learn to read, offering the first books of their kind to use real photography and nonfiction narratives. DK Readers combined the reality of photography with a strong, information-based narrative text, as well as delivering the pedagogy of the traditional reading programs. This format opened up the range of subject matter that appeals most to kids—a key component to fostering a positive “learning to read” environment.

Since 1988, DK has sold 49 million Readers and published more than 200 titles in the series. Now, after consulting with today’s leading experts in children’s literacy, DK has transformed their approach with modern subjects and enticing covers that compete for the time and attention of digital-era kids.

“DK’s new program delivers on its promise to be ‘better by design’ by providing budding readers with books on their favorite things, perfectly suited for their reading levels, all with dynamic images that rival any Google Search,” says DK Editorial Director Nancy Ellwood.

Four levels of DK Readers are aimed at different reading abilities, enabling parents and teachers to choose the books that are exactly right for each child: Level 1: Learning to read, Level 2: Beginning to read, Level 3: Beginning to read alone, and Level 4: Reading alone.
I was particularly interested in the leveled quality of these new readers. Although I teach middle school, many of my students require reading material that is adjusted below grade level. Non-fiction material that is "meaty" enough while not being to childish is often inaccessible to struggling middle school readers. I answered Stephanie's email and within a few days, two beautiful books arrived in my mail.

Just like they say, "You can't judge a book by its cover." While these covers are stunning and demand to be opened, the content inside is EVEN BETTER! Even though the genre of the text is informational, narratives are sprinkled throughout to break up the non-fiction text. The beautiful photos and illustrations make the pages pop, and the text features (bold faced, italics, captioning, etc.) alone make the text easily comprehensible for young readers. Seeing is believing, so here's a bit of a peek  inside "Spiders and Other Deadly Animals."

I am really looking forward to sharing these beautiful books with my students this coming school year.  They will be the perfect accompaniment for meeting Common Core ELA Standards for comparing/contrasting fictional and non-fictional material as well as learning about text features.

These two titles are not the only ones that have been newly revised. Be sure to stop by the DK Website to see the complete listing of available titles and to read more about these wonderful nonfiction texts.

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