I just finished a unit study on reptiles with my 5-year-old son. His favorite part of the study was visiting our local zoo and seeing the reptiles up close and personal. But here are some of the great resources we found to use at home as well. Enjoy!
Chameleon, Chameleon – by Joy Cowley
This was my son’s favorite of all the reptile books we read. It follows a typical day in the life of a chameleon, with simple text and fabulous photographs. The chameleon discovers that there’s no food in his tree, and takes a journey to find a new tree with more food. He runs into various other animals along the way, assessing the threat level of each as he moves through the landscape. When he finally finds a juicy caterpillar to eat, we see an incredible photograph of the chameleon grabbing the caterpillar with its long sinuous tongue. This was my son’s favorite part of the book. He was rolling on the floor laughing and wanted me to read it over and over again.
Crocodile Safari – by Jim Arnosky
In this book, we follow the author’s journey through the Florida Everglades, in search of wild crocodiles. While this book is non-fiction, it has a good narrative flow, and is very story-like in its approach, which helped my son stay engaged. There’s a great two-page layout showing the differences between alligators and crocodiles, but most of the information we learn is interwoven throughout the narrative. For example, we’re reminded that reptiles are cold blooded when the author finds crocodiles lounging in the sun on abandoned aluminum boats in a junk heap. This was a fun story with good information and lovely illustrations.
Lizards – by Nic Bishop
I’ve realized that Nic Bishop’s animal books (which all feature his amazing photography) come in two versions — the full version (which is what we read for Snakes, featured below) and the Scholastic Level 2 Reader version (which is what we accidentally got out of the library for Lizards.) Even though getting the shorter version was an accident, I ended up loving it. The text is still very informative, featuring a wide variety of lizards and interesting facts about them, but there’s not as much text per page and the sentences are shorter and easier to comprehend. Since I’m reading these books aloud to my 5-year-old son, this level was perfect for us.
Snakes – by Nic Bishop
This book features fantastic photographs of a wide variety of snakes. The text is very informative — at one point, the author has readers imagine themselves as snakes and picture what would be different about their bodies and experience of the world. The text is in-depth — it was almost too long for my 5-year-old. I think it might have been better if I’d stuck with the Scholastic Level 2 Reader version of Nic Bishop’s books, as I did with Lizards (shown above), just to keep the text moving along at a faster clip. But the photography is truly incredible in both versions.
All About Turtles – by Jim Arnosky
This is an informative book about turtles and their habits. It covers different types of turtles, what they eat, how they protect themselves, where they live, and how they lay their eggs. I was fascinated to learn from this book that turtles have sensory nerves in their shells — I’d always assumed that they couldn’t feel through their hard external layer of shell. The illustrations are lovely, and this serves as a great introduction to turtles.
We also watched some fun YouTube videos about reptiles. Here are a few you might enjoy:
Free School’s All About Reptiles
National Geographic for Kids’ World Animal Championships: Reptiles
BBC Earth’s Largest Lizard on Earth: the Komodo Dragon
Happy Learning’s Reptiles