Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cars and trucks: A few nonfiction choices

We headed to the library this week.  With a few truck-related favorites (like Truck Stuck and My Truck is Stuck, to name two) pushing their due dates, I was feeling some pressure to find new favs.  I asked the children's librarian if she could recommend any (something I don't generally do; I usually hunt on my own online first).  She said yes right away, and said she'd show me "the section."  I was thrown off -- picture books don't have a section by subject.  Ah, I realized she was showing me nonfiction.  I politely followed her, thinking that really wasn't what we wanted.  But I was delighted to see the little shelf full of transportation-related books.  The reading levels varied, but I saw quite a few that seem perfect for our 19 monther.    Here was the armful we took home with us (I got a bit enthusiastic with this first series!):

Taxis (Mighty Machines) (Library Binding), by Kay Manolis. Illustrated with large colorful photographs of city life, this volume explains what a taxi is, how a meter keeps track of fares, how the roof light signifies if the taxi has passengers, and how and where people can find a taxi for a ride. The text is nice and simple. Oftentimes this type of book contains text that is too complicated for our little reader, so I like the short, straightforward writing here.


"A taxi has a driver. / Passengers sit in the back seat."

Bookworm's interest at 19 months: Out of the stack of six books in the "Mighty Machines" series, this one was the little guy's favorite. It was also the first we read, which might have given it an advantage, but he does generally love yellow cars.

Trucks (Blastoff! Readers: Mighty Machines) (School & Library Binding), by Mary Lindeen. This one features a big rig, dump truck, flatbed truck, logging truck, tanker truck, and monster truck.


"Some very big trucks are called big rigs. This big rig has 18 wheels."

Bookworm's interest at 19 months: This was the second-most enjoyed book in the Mighty Machines series.

Helicopters (Blastoff Readers: Mighty Machines) (Library Binding), by Mary Lindeen. This one features simple technical details about how a helicopter works, as well as different kinds of helicopters, like air ambulance helicopters and those for fire fighting (didn't know they existed) and site-seeing.


"A helicopter has two rotors. One is on top and one is on the tail."

Bookworm's interest at 19 months: He loves to look at the cover and say "huhuhuh" for helicopter, but not a whole lot of interest beyond that yet.

Tow Trucks (Blastoff! Readers: Mighty Machines) (Library Binding), by Kay Manolis. This volume explains how tow trucks function - how they help cars that do not work, manage to lift them up off the ground, tow them on a flatbed, drive down the road, and get them fixed at repair shops. Each of the books in this series also includes a short glossary in the back.


"This tow truck has a wheel list. This part grips two tires on the sports car."

Bookworm's interest at 19 months: I think he's a little overwhelmed at the stack of these, because I'd normally expect him to like this one and hasn't paid it much attention yet.

Garbage Trucks (Blastoff Readers: Mighty Machines) (Library Binding), by Mary Lindeen. This book describes different types of garbage trucks (front-loading, automated, etc.), and how they pick up and pack down trash and bring it to landfills.


"The arm lifts a metal bin over the cab. It empties it into the truck."

Bookworm's interest at 19 months: Mild interest (I think he'd like it without so many at once). Edit: we read it again today and he enjoyed it.

Parent's Peeve: Not a peeve, but an admission: I had no idea that garbage trucks lifted bins mechanically until about 6 months ago when I happened by a truck. (Hadn't seen a garbage truck living in condo/apartment buildings for years). I feel so old! In my day, garbage men had to LIFT the bins. All by themselves!

School Buses (Blastoff! Readers, Mighty Machines) (Library Binding), by Kay Manolis. Do all young children love school buses? I don't know, but ours does. Spotting one on the street always brings a smile to his face, and an exclamation of "buh! buh! buh!" This book explains the different parts of the bus (aisle, lights, stop sign, wheelchair lift), with large bright photographs. Like the others in this series, each two-page spread features one side with large font text (usually a sentence or two) and the other side with a nice clear photograph.


"A school bus has red lights. These flash when the door is open."

Bookworm's interest at 19 months: He loves pointing at the bus (which is yayayayaya -- yellow).

In addition to the Mighty Machines series, we also picked up these other two nonfiction books:

I Drive a Dump Truck (Working Wheels) (Library Binding), by Sarah Bridges. I like the format of this book, which is suitable for multiple age groups in different ways. The illustrations are large, usually covering a full two pages. Alongside the illustrations, the left page contains a couple of sentences about dump trucks (see excerpt). This is the only part I read to our little guy. On the right hand side, there is a little box that contains more detailed information (again, see excerpt). The very youngest readers can eye the drawings, older can enjoy the left text, and older still will be ready for the factual tidbits.


"My truck's main job is to haul things from one place to another. A wheel loader empties dirt, rocks, or fill into my dump box. / The biggest dump truck can carry about 45,000 pounds (20,412 kilograms). That's more than the weight of four elephants!"

Bookworm's interest at 19 months: He loved this one. Even the text on the left is a little long for him, or so I would think, but he sat through it and signed for more when we were finished. We read it quite a few times in a row.

Little Trucks With Big Jobs (Hardcover), by Robert Maass. This book features a plane tug (a new one for me!), street sweeper, telephone truck, garbage truck, forklift, zamboni (who doesn't love a zamboni?), cable truck, pickup truck, mail truck, ambulance, vegetable truck, camper, tow truck, glass truck, and ice cream truck. For each truck, one page contains the name of the truck in large letters, followed by one or two simple sentences about the truck, while the other contains a photograph of the truck in action.


"Street Sweeper: City streets are kept clean by the swirling brooms of a street sweeper."

Bookworm's interest at 19 months: I was really excited to pick this one up for him, because it features a mail truck (which he loves), but we haven't had a chance to read it yet. I offered it a couple of times and he shook his head in favor of another. But I decided to blog about it anyway, because we have so many books to be reviewed lately. I'm going to try it again tomorrow. I like the level of the sentences in the book. He won't understand every word, but they're not way over his head either.

Want even more books about cars and trucks? Take a look at all of our other many reviews of transportation books for children.

How about your kids: do they enjoy nonfiction? If so, what is there favorite subject, and how old are they?


Jennifer said...

My patrons are nuts about truck books! We recently got an oversize book you might like - Big Bigger Biggest by Erin Golden. It shows HUGE trucks (lots of them yellow (-:). The text is probably a little too old, but the pictures are colossal! Oh, and monster trucks. I actually found a board book - Monster Trucks by Gould. People liked it so much somebody stole it...

Valerie @ Frugal Family Fun Blog said...

That Mighty Machines series looks awesome! Your blog is full of such great recommendations! I'm always looking for new things to read to the kiddos, and there is so much out there that it's hard to know what is really worth the time to read.

teachingyoungchildren said...

Good recommendations! My daughter likes books with vehicles in it, and we used to take some non-fiction books on the topic from the library. Nothing from this series though - and I share your peeve that some of the books are way too complicated for young readers. She is 32 months now, and is interested a lot more in the story books than in "facts books". I had limited success with small books (sorry, I don't remember a title or an author) introducing the concepts of a day, a week, etc. I hope that her interest will perk up when she actually wants to learn something of the topic of her choice.

Lisa said...

I'm always impressed by how many books you can review with your boy.

When I've asked my children's librarian questions they have been spectacularly unhelpful.

Green Mamma said...

I know this may sound terrible, but I too am surprised when 1) the librarian is friendly and helpful, and 2) she knows exactly what I'm looking for.

Just today I asked about poetry books that would be good for toddlers and over we walked to the children's non-fiction; and oh boy am I grateful that I did ask her for suggestions. We found a great intro book that holds Annabelle's interest and is funny too. I'll probably post about that later this week . . .