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Notes From a Children's Librarian: Books on Biodiversity

tagged: biodiversity, biology, 49thKids, 49th kids, notes from a children's librarian, stem, science, grade 6

Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.

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The following books complement the Grade 6 Biodiversity unit. 

Planet Ark: Preserving Earth’s Biodiversity, by Adrienne Mason, illustrated by Margot Thompson, makes biodiversity easy to understand. Using the biblical Noah as a metaphoric guardian, biodiversity is covered in three ways: species biodiversity, genetic biodiversity, and biodiversity within habitats. The text explains that an astounding 15,000–20,000 new species are identified each year, and the reader is asked to think about preservation in the following way: beware trashing your broken skateboard because you might later need one of its parts. At the end of the book is a grocery list of why biodiversity matters, along with examples of modern-day child Noahs who are working to preserve biodiversity. 

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The Tree of Life: The Incredible Biodiversity of Life on Earth, by Rochelle Strauss, also illustrated by Margot Thompson, is a great scaffold for learning about biodiversity. The tree metaphor serves as a graphic organizer of the five kingdoms: bacteria, fungi, algae, plants and animals, showing the interconnectedness of each. Humans make up only one leaf of the entire tree, yet they have the greatest impact on the tree of life. A list of at-risk species and ideas about how we can help them are found near the end of the book.

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Wolf Island, by Celia Godkin, is a story of how changing the food chain can affect the biodiversity puzzle. When wolves disappear from an island, the excessive deer population starts to overfeed on plants, leaving less for rabbits and mice, which in turn affects the owls. The deer start to gnaw tree bark, killing the trees. And so it goes, the interdependency of species.

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Part of the curriculum addresses an understanding of how our vast number of plants, rocks, minerals, and animals contribute to human-made objects. Transformed: How Everyday Things Are Made, by Bill Slavin, is a fantastic resource, with clever, often humourous, step-by-step illustrations of how we make cat litter, aluminum foil, cutlery, Band-Aids, mirrors, guitars, silk, latex, cotton balls, and more.

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Silver Birch nominee Be a Pond Detective, Solving the Mysteries of Lakes, Swamps and Pools, by Peggy Kochanoff, is written as a Q & A (with questions like, "Why do some insects walk on top of the water and others swim where they can’t breathe?), accompanied by lovely watercolour illustrations. The value of this book is its diverse range of species, from cattails to insects, duckweed to birds, larvae to muskrats. Also included in this series: Be a Wilderness Detective, Solving the Mysteries of Fields, Woods and Coastlines, as well as Be a Beach Detective, Be a City Detective, and Be a Night Detective, You Can Be a Nature Detective.

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Who Needs a Swamp, by Karen Patkau, is one title in the Ecosystems Series (also: Who Needs a Reef, Prairie, Desert, Jungle, Iceberg). This Blue Spruce nominee with computer-generated art shows a range of species for each ecosystem. The whole series showcases the diversity of habitats, the specific negative impact of human activities and how each ecosystem is essential to the earth as a whole, such as that swamps are part of the water cycle, for which wetlands act as a filter. Snapshots in summary form at the back address the range of creatures, plants and insects found in each ecosystem. These books are a great springboard for further research. 

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Book Cover A Tree in a Forest

A Tree in a Forest, by Jan Thornhill, portrays the life of a 200-year-old tree. Detailed pictures reveal a diverse ecological community born from a single maple key in a rotting log. Portrayed are root systems, animals hibernating in and around the tree, visiting birds, bugs and wildlife. Despite a forest fire, ice storms and lightning, the tree continues to attract and accommodate a mixture of forest creatures and plant life.

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On her first day as teacher-librarian, Julie Booker was asked by a five-year-old if that was her real name. She's felt at home in libraries since her inaugural job as a Page in the Toronto Public Library. She is the author of Up Up Up, a book of short stories published by House of Anansi Press.

October 16, 2018

Books mentioned in this post

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Planet Ark

Preserving Earth's Biodiversity

by Adrienne Mason, illustrated by Margot Thompson
edition: Hardcover
also available: eBook
  • age: 8 to 12
  • Grade: 3 to 7
tagged: environmental conservation & protection, environmental science & ecosystems

In this illustrated nonfiction book, author Adrienne Mason compares planet Earth today to Noah's ark, as it travels through the universe carrying every living thing and whatever each one needs for its survival. As explained in the introduction: “For billions of years, life on Earth has been evolving. The result --- a rich biodiversity --- is the …

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Tree of Life

The Incredible Biodiversity of Life on Earth

by Rochelle Strauss, illustrated by Margot Thompson
edition: Hardcover
also available: Paperback eBook
  • age: 8 to 12
  • Grade: 3 to 7
tagged: environmental science & ecosystems

If every known species on Earth were a leaf on a tree, that tree would have 1 750 000 leaves. Since humans count for just one leaf on the tree, we have a lot to learn about the millions of other forms of life with which we share the world. A dazzlingly illustrated and child-friendly introduction to biodiversity, Tree of Life shows how living things …

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Wolf Island

photographs by Ian McAllister, by Nicholas Read
edition: Hardcover
also available: eBook
  • age: 6 to 8
  • Grade: 1 to 3
tagged: wolves & coyotes, environmental science & ecosystems

The Great Bear Rainforest is a majestic place full of tall trees, huge bears and endless schools of salmon. Award-winning photographer and author Ian McAllister's luminous photographs illustrate the story of a lone wolf who swims to one of the small islands that dot the rainforest's coast. The island provides him with everything he needs—deer, sa …

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Transformed

How Everyday Things Are Made

illustrated by Bill Slavin
edition: Paperback
also available: Hardcover
  • age: 8 to 12
  • Grade: 3 to 7
tagged: how things work-are made

CDs start out as sand. Blackboard chalk comes from tiny sea creatures. The objects all around us --- every single product in the world --- is made from elements found in nature. Discover how nature is transformed into more than 60 things we eat, drink, play with, wear or use every day.

Technology changes constantly, but the stages raw materials go …

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Be a Pond Detective

Solving the Mysteries of Lakes, Swamps, and Pools

by Peggy Kochanoff
edition: Paperback
also available: eBook
  • age: 4 to 9
  • Grade: p to 4
tagged: biology

Do dragonflies bite? What is the difference between a frog and a toad? Are leeches dangerous?

Naturalist and artist Peggy Kochanoff answers these questions and more in this illustrated guide to solving pond mysteries. From the life cycle of mosquitoes to the many uses and varieties of pond plants, Kochanoff takes young readers on an entertaining and …

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Who Needs a Swamp?

by Karen Patkau
edition: Hardcover
  • age: 7 to 10
  • Grade: 2 to 5
tagged: environmental science & ecosystems, zoology, environmental conservation & protection

Tundra introduces the first three books in its important new ecosystems series. Each title celebrates the world’s diversity by presenting a different ecosystem: its land and water, its animals and plants. The art is brimming with creatures and ecological features, described in fact-filled notes at the end of each book and in a useful glossary an …

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