Monday, August 6, 2012

"Dinosaurs Across America" and Reading with Pictures

Economics is not a subject that I'm remotely interested in and was even less so when I was an eighth grade history student. But why do I remember it so well even to this day? The teacher taught it to us using a comic book. This simply underscores my belief that having fun in class and delivering concepts to students in a way that they enjoy and are interested in makes for some serious learning opportunities. To that end I highly recommend Reading with Pictures (thanks to our reader Mat for bringing it to our attention)-check it out and see if there is something there your students might enjoy learning from.

Remember learning Geography in the old way with lots of those window-shade roll-up maps and memorization? If I could have learned this way I think I would have enjoyed it and it would have stuck with me. Take a look.

DINOSAURS ACROSS AMERICA

REVIEW
Geography, like many subjects, can be boring, fraught with the nasty notion that simply memorizing states and capitals constitutes learning. Phil Yeh, while presenting basic information about each state, also gives the reader a look into other aspects of the state, such as human interaction with the place, as well as history about the music, art, or technology that has shaped each state. There is even a little story to go along with the information to help the reader move along. It is a good thing.
We can forget, sometimes, that nonfiction has a special allure for some children. My wife is one of those who does not enjoy reading fiction. When I got DINOSAURS ACROSS AMERICA in the classroom, she commented that, as a child, this book would have been one of her favorites in the comic category. She was one of those children who enjoyed geography, including the memorization of states and capitals. Children like her need comics like this.
ART REVIEW
The pages are split in half with two states appearing on each page. The illustrations are colorful and include not only an outline of the state and major cities, but also includes art that is distinctive to the state.


AGE RECOMMENDATION
My Rating: All Ages
All Ages Reads: No Rating
Comics in the Classroom: No Rating
IN THE CLASSROOM:
DINOSAURS ACROSS AMERICA is the perfect place for children to begin to study geography, which is more than just memorizing the states and their capitals. The study of geography also includes the place, human interaction, movement and regions. Phil Yeh does a good job with presenting aspects of these major geographic themes throughout his book. For instance we learn that W.C. Handy, the father of The Blues, lived in Memphis, Tenn. We also discover that Nebraska was referred to as a desert until humans started irrigating. Students could discover how that irrigation transformed Nebraska into the state it is.
AUTHOR: Phil Yeh
ILLUSTRATOR: Phil Yeh
PUBLISHER: Nantier Beall Minoustchine
GENRE: Nonfiction
FORMAT: Hardback
PAGES: 32 pages
COLOR: Full color
ISBN-10: 1-56163-509-X
ISBN-13: 978-1-56163-509-2
MY RECOMMENDATION:
Highly Recommended
Students need excellent nonfiction resources when studying all kinds of subjects, and DINOSAURS ACROSS AMERICA meets that need perfectly. Geared for elementary students, it is the go-to book when students begin to look at a place within the United States. It belongs on the classroom and school library shelf.

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