We did a unit study on amphibians last week. It involved lots of hopping around like frogs and sticking out of tongues to “catch flies.” But we also read some good books. Here’s the list:
Frogs – by Nic Bishop
This book would be worth getting even if it had no text — the photography is that good — but it turns out that the text is fantastic as well. Nic Bishop gives us information about a variety of frogs, and focuses particular attention to unusual species such as the gliding frog (a species that uses its webbed feet to glide fifty feet through the rain forest treetops) and the strawberry dart poison frog (a species that carries its tadpoles up into trees and deposits them into the pools of water that gather in large tree leaves).
This book focused more on adult frogs and less on the metamorphosis from tadpole to frog than some of the other books we read. My son was particularly fascinated with the photograph of the glass frog, a species of frog with transparent skin, whose internal organs are clearly visible.
About Amphibians: a Guide for Children – by Cathryn Sill
This is a lovely introduction to amphibians. It features a single sentence of text per page, paired with a beautiful illustration. It’s a gentle and easy-to-follow book, but presents the main facts about amphibians clearly and succinctly.
All About Frogs – by Jim Arnosky
This brightly illustrated book has a fair amount of text per page (far more than About Amphibians, for example), yet it kept my 5-year-old son engaged throughout. It presents fascinating facts about frogs — the differences between frogs and toads, the camouflage and protective features of various frogs, their diets, and much more. I had no idea that you can tell the differences between male and female frogs by the size of their ears — if the ear pad is bigger than the eye, it’s a male; if the ear pad is smaller than the eye, it’s a female.
Frog Song – by Brenda Guiberson
In this beautifully illustrated book, each page is devoted to a different species of frog. Each frog is from a different country, so I found it helpful to have a globe on hand when reading this to my son. Interesting details are presented about each frog, but the book is tied together by the theme of various sounds made by different frogs.
A Wood Frog’s Life – by John Himmelman
This intricately illustrated book follows the life cycle of a Wood Frog, from its entrance into the world as a tadpole, through its development into a full grown frog, through winter hibernations, and to spring-warmed ponds where it croaks to attract a mate.
From Tadpole to Frog – by Anita Ganeri
This book provides a detailed guide to the life-cycle of a frog, coupled with beautiful photographs. The text is very accessible, and it provides more information and photographs about the various stages of a tadpole’s metamorphosis into a frog than most of the other picture books we read. (If you’re wanting to focus on this metamorphosis, this book and Frogs by Gail Gibbons would make a good pairing.) My son was pretty fascinated by the fact that a tadpole eats its jelly-like egg after it hatches, while I was intrigued by the fact that a froglet’s front legs grow from the spaces that used to be its gills.
Frogs – by Gail Gibbons
The illustrations in this book only portray a single type of frog, but that frog’s lifecycle is investigated in an in-depth manner. Over half of the book is devoted to the transformation from tadpole to frog, featuring illustrations of each separate step in the metamorphosis. Information about other species of frogs is covered briefly in the appendix of the book.
Toad Weather – by Sandra Markle
This is the only book of fiction on this list, but it ties in beautifully with the other books. It’s the story of a young girl who is feeling frustrated with the rainy weather, and how her mother teaches her to appreciate the sights and sounds around her even in the rain. The book culminates with the girl helping toads to cross the road during their yearly migration. The illustrations are beautiful, and the book serves as a wonderful reminder to slow down and appreciate the world around us.