I just finished a unit study on caves with my 5-year-old son, so I thought I would share the picture books that we used to supplement this. I’ve been frustrated recently by how many non-fiction “picture books” are text-heavy and encyclopedic in their approach–more appropriate for a 5th grader preparing a report than for a 5-year-old being introduced to a topic for the first time. The following books have a strong narrative element, and the text is simple and engaging enough for a 5-year-old attention span. Enjoy!
Caves – by Kimberly Hutmacher
This book features truly lovely photography of caves and caverns. The text is simple, yet poetic–describing the formation of caves and the different ways that we interact with them.
Caves and Caverns – by Gail Gibbons
This book was the most text-dense of the three that we read, but also the most informative. It talked about more than just limestone caves, introducing lava caves, ocean caves, and ice caves as well. Spelunking was discussed, and what’s involved in exploring a cave, as well as man’s early history of cave dwelling.
Caves: Mysteries Beneath our Feet – by David Harrison
This book opens with a narrative about a cow named Millicent, and how she keeps herself cool by standing over a hole in the field. Farmer Howe notices this strange behavior from his cow, and ends up discovering the magnificent Howe Caverns in New York. As the book progresses, the narrative turns more informational, yet remains engaging — discussing the formation of limestone caves and the various animals that live in caves. My son was particularly interested in the blind creepy-crawlies and the fact that they don’t need to use their eyes since they live in such a dark environment. The illustrations are wonderful as well.