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echomyst
03-21-2015, 07:57 PM
Looking at our bookshelves, I noticed that we're mostly readers of fiction :-)

What are some indispensable nonfiction & reference books for your family?

We'd like to start adding to our personal library, focusing on sciences, history, math, and identification / field guides (we're in northern CA). Our eldest is five yrs old, so anything for lower elementary to adult is great!

To start, we like Ultimate Bugopedia, H.A. Rey's Find the Constellations & The Stars, DK / Smithsonian Dinosaur!, and other random DK titles.

Also, is Story of the World worth purchasing?

Thanks, all!

CrazyMom
03-21-2015, 08:31 PM
Peterson's Field Guides are Elle's absolute favorite:) America's best selling field guide for a reason...they're awesome! She has a shelf full, has tried MANY different kinds, and loves them the best.

Peterson's offers "Peterson First Guides" that are wonderfully suited for younger kids who prefer a more simplified entry. They also offer field guide coloring books that are fantastic.

http://www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com/peterson/results.cfm?adv=y&series=Peterson%20Field%20Guide%20Color%2DIn%20Boo ks&banner=coloring

ElizabethK
03-21-2015, 09:35 PM
For science and history, we like the Kingfisher encyclopedias and the Usborne encyclopedias.

My son really likes the Scholastic Discover More series. They have great information and wonderful pictures and cover a variety of topics.

As for SOTW, it sort of depends on how you want to use it. It isn't a reference book, it is a narrative. I have one kid who loves SOTW and one who won't touch it.

Solong
03-21-2015, 10:29 PM
For littles, we most love(d) Citizen Kid (CitizenKid | Kids Can Press (http://www.kidscanpress.com/series/citizenkid)) and Christiane Dorion's books (www.christianedorion.com/books.php.) Also, 'The Night Sky' by Michael Driscoll continues to come off the shelf regularly.

alexsmom
03-21-2015, 11:17 PM
Our favorite space book (big interest to DS) was Childs Introduction to the Nights Sky.
http://www.amazon.com/Childs-Introduction-Night-Sky-Constellations--/dp/157912366X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1426993447&sr=8-1&keywords=childs+guide+to+the+night+sky
We started reading it to him when he was preschool age, and goes a lot past the boring 8.5 planets with generic facts. A lot may go over your younuns heads, but it will give you as much knowledge as watching every space science show on cable.
We also liked *The Book of Constellations* by Robin Kerrod. It touches on the myth about the constellation, plus gives interesting tidbits about the stars in it.
http://www.amazon.com/Book-Constellations-Discover-Secrets-Stars/dp/0764154400/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1426994294&sr=1-1&keywords=the+book+of+constellations

National Geographic's Prehistoric Animals by Alan Turner - we kept this book checked out from the library for a few months, so decided to buy our own. Lots of pictures, references, timelines, and more than just dinosaurs. Includes human evolution.
http://www.amazon.com/National-Geographic-Prehistoric-Mammals-Turner/dp/0792271343/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1426994762&sr=1-2&keywords=prehistoric+animals

Greek Myths and Legends by Cheryl Evans - its marketed to kids, but does a good job introducing the pantheon with enough squishy bits, but not too many. DS used it in 1st grade as how he learned abt the gods. It did a much better job than any of the other pantheons we learned about. If she made a Egyptian and Norse version, Id buy it in an instant.

SOTW gives a prejudicial but narrative version made for children of world history. (IMO.) A lot of homeschoolers use it, but I think a part of that is because there doesnt appear to anything comparable as a substitute. I looked everywhere for an alternative book that had world history comprehensible for younguns that wasnt boring as heck. We pieced together our introduction to early world history with DK, Usborne, and other topical books. Most SOTW users supplement with these anyway. You might ask them how necessary it is, or you can just buy the student book for activities. Check it out from the library, or borrow it from a homeschooler. ;)

HTH

Homeschooling Librarian
03-22-2015, 12:11 AM
If you like DK, Give Usborne a whirl! We love their Elementary Math and Science Dictionaries, and their lift-tab "See Inside" series is great for preschoolers.

David Macaulay's non-fiction books (The Way Things Work, The Way We Work, Built to Last, etc.) are beautifully drawn and great for visual learners.

Where are you in Northern California? I have a...robust collection of guides and might have titles specific to your area, but in truth, my kids love love love the laminated guides you can buy in the visitor education center in your local parks.

KittyP
03-22-2015, 02:44 AM
David Macaulay's non-fiction books (The Way Things Work, The Way We Work, Built to Last, etc.) are beautifully drawn and great for visual learners.


I was going to suggest these too. Kiddo absolutely adores them. He always gets a kick out of the illustrations.

Solong
03-22-2015, 11:30 AM
Ha! That's the same book, alexsmom :) (nightsky, driscoll) It's a great book, and I can't remember where I found it. Maybe someone on this forum recommended it?

I missed the California bit. Google Acorn Naturalists!! I'm a broken record on this one, but it is worth replaying over and over and over... in fact, that may be where I found Night Sky/Droscoll, lol!

alexsmom
03-22-2015, 12:36 PM
I think we were writing at the same time!
We picked ours up before DS was born, at a trip to Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff for Astronomy Day!
It is such a fantastic reference though! I think thats where I learned all about Astrology (not astronomy), what the zodiac is supposed to be, what retrograde is, and why with solar progression, the dates for the signs are half inaccurate, so those ignoramuses thinking Im a Capricorn are just nuts.

echomyst
03-25-2015, 12:36 AM
Thanks, all! Excited to finally add some quality nonfiction & reference materials to our home library.


Peterson's Field Guides are Elle's absolute favorite:) America's best selling field guide for a reason...they're awesome! She has a shelf full, has tried MANY different kinds, and loves them the best.

Peterson's offers "Peterson First Guides" that are wonderfully suited for younger kids who prefer a more simplified entry. They also offer field guide coloring books that are fantastic.

Peterson Field Guide Coloring Books (http://www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com/peterson/results.cfm?adv=y&series=Peterson%20Field%20Guide%20Color%2DIn%20Boo ks&banner=coloring)

Our 5yo is a big fan of colouring things -- might be fun for her!


For science and history, we like the Kingfisher encyclopedias and the Usborne encyclopedias.

My son really likes the Scholastic Discover More series. They have great information and wonderful pictures and cover a variety of topics.

As for SOTW, it sort of depends on how you want to use it. It isn't a reference book, it is a narrative. I have one kid who loves SOTW and one who won't touch it.

I hear that younger kids often prefer the Usborne encyclopediae over the Kingfisher ones (the latter geared towards older kids). Do you find this to be the case with your kids? I'll see if we could borrow some from our local library and see what our 5yo thinks.

* * *

We'll definitely have to check out Michael Driscoll's Night Sky book & David Macaulay's books then. :-)




SOTW gives a prejudicial but narrative version made for children of world history. (IMO.) A lot of homeschoolers use it, but I think a part of that is because there doesnt appear to anything comparable as a substitute. I looked everywhere for an alternative book that had world history comprehensible for younguns that wasnt boring as heck. We pieced together our introduction to early world history with DK, Usborne, and other topical books. Most SOTW users supplement with these anyway. You might ask them how necessary it is, or you can just buy the student book for activities. Check it out from the library, or borrow it from a homeschooler. ;)

HTH

Yeah... I've looked everywhere for an interesting story-like intro to world history for young kids, but it always comes back to SOTW. Our 5yo prefers fiction -- stories -- over nonfiction, and I don't blame her since I'm much the same way! No copies at our library, but maybe another homeschooler (we're just starting out, so still new to everything)!


If you like DK, Give Usborne a whirl! We love their Elementary Math and Science Dictionaries, and their lift-tab "See Inside" series is great for preschoolers.

David Macaulay's non-fiction books (The Way Things Work, The Way We Work, Built to Last, etc.) are beautifully drawn and great for visual learners.

Where are you in Northern California? I have a...robust collection of guides and might have titles specific to your area, but in truth, my kids love love love the laminated guides you can buy in the visitor education center in your local parks.


I forgot to mention Usborne in my original post, but we love whatever we've seen of the Usborne books so far! We're in Petaluma; how about you? What field guides do you recommend? Our 5yo is especially interested in insects/invertebrates, birds, and wildflowers. I hadn't even thought of collecting the laminated guides from visitor education centers -- thanks for the tip!



Ha! That's the same book, alexsmom :) (nightsky, driscoll) It's a great book, and I can't remember where I found it. Maybe someone on this forum recommended it?

I missed the California bit. Google Acorn Naturalists!! I'm a broken record on this one, but it is worth replaying over and over and over... in fact, that may be where I found Night Sky/Droscoll, lol!

I'd bookmarked Acorn Naturalists long ago, apparently, but had never looked into it in depth. Now I will! :-)

ScienceGeek
03-25-2015, 01:35 AM
What I loved most about SOTW was the Activity book - the list of additional reading for each chapter was a gold mine of great books - lots of folklore and mythology for different regions. I started SOTW when my oldest was only 4 and all we did was read books from those lists and listen to the audio version of the textbook. When it comes to the few chapters that treat biblical stories as history I just explained they were also myths. Like others said, you won't find another spine that is has interesting for the younger crowd. Though there is a series of fun books : Good Times Travel Agency series by Linda Bailey are funny and educational - colorful picture books where the kids get thrown back in time and have to spend some time there before they can go home. Time Warp Trio books are a fun way to learn some history as well - my boys loved those when they were younger. There are cartoons/TV show that was made from them as well.

Science books - Magic School Bus books are great for elementary age kids - make science fun and interesting, there are a few Ms Frizzle goes to... books that are history related as well.

I second (or third?) DK books - they have some beautiful books - some of which are now ebooks on iPads which means there are cool movies too. I think we have the insect book.

Other cool iPad books are anything by TOUCHPRESS - elements, solar system, beautiful! They also have some apps/books for younger kids.

Accidental Homeschooler
03-25-2015, 09:14 AM
Other cool iPad books are anything by TOUCHPRESS - elements, solar system, beautiful! They also have some apps/books for younger kids.

This is the direction we are going more and more. I don't think I will be dropping cash for reference books much in the future. I have too many of them sitting around getting little use. Some of the iPad apps are like video textbooks/reference books.

ikslo
03-25-2015, 10:27 AM
My DS8 loves the Usbourne/DK encyclopedias.

My other favorite that I will never part with is my Janson's History of Art.

echomyst
03-27-2015, 01:46 AM
What I loved most about SOTW was the Activity book - the list of additional reading for each chapter was a gold mine of great books - lots of folklore and mythology for different regions. I started SOTW when my oldest was only 4 and all we did was read books from those lists and listen to the audio version of the textbook. When it comes to the few chapters that treat biblical stories as history I just explained they were also myths. Like others said, you won't find another spine that is has interesting for the younger crowd. Though there is a series of fun books : Good Times Travel Agency series by Linda Bailey are funny and educational - colorful picture books where the kids get thrown back in time and have to spend some time there before they can go home. Time Warp Trio books are a fun way to learn some history as well - my boys loved those when they were younger. There are cartoons/TV show that was made from them as well.

Science books - Magic School Bus books are great for elementary age kids - make science fun and interesting, there are a few Ms Frizzle goes to... books that are history related as well.

I second (or third?) DK books - they have some beautiful books - some of which are now ebooks on iPads which means there are cool movies too. I think we have the insect book.

Other cool iPad books are anything by TOUCHPRESS - elements, solar system, beautiful! They also have some apps/books for younger kids.

I'll look into the SOTW activity books!

Oh yes... our daughter loves Magic School Bus! Stories hold her attention more than anything.

We don't own Apple anything. :-\ I wonder if any of the apps will eventually make it to other platforms, because they look great! They even have Theodore Gray's Elements, one of my own favourites.

echomyst
03-27-2015, 01:50 AM
This is the direction we are going more and more. I don't think I will be dropping cash for reference books much in the future. I have too many of them sitting around getting little use. Some of the iPad apps are like video textbooks/reference books.

This is what I'm afraid of -- books collecting dust! That's why I'm hoping to hear about indispensable, super-awesome nonfiction / reference books that get used often. Are there ones in your home that do get leafed through frequently?

echomyst
03-27-2015, 02:01 AM
My DS8 loves the Usbourne/DK encyclopedias.

My other favorite that I will never part with is my Janson's History of Art.

DK/Usborne seem to be foolproof choices. We inherited a large collection of arts books, but I'll add Janson's to my Amazon list in case it comes in handy when the kids are older! Thanks :-)

Misha
03-27-2015, 03:24 AM
For younger elementary we loved DK Eyewitness books and Usborne Encyclopedias.

The DK books have so many vibrant pictures and the Usborne you can use for years to come. I bought our encyclopedias about five years ago and they've proven invaluable resources.

skrink
03-27-2015, 08:32 AM
Dd always loved this: http://smile.amazon.com/Anatomy-artist-Jeno-Barcsay/dp/1566192455/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1427458720&sr=8-2&keywords=anatomy+for+the+artist When she was little - like maybe 4 or 5? - she was fascinated with human anatomy. She pulled this off the shelf daily and poured over the pictures. It still gets used pretty often as reference.

We have used our children's world atlas a lot. Star charts, too.

echomyst
03-30-2015, 12:21 AM
For younger elementary we loved DK Eyewitness books and Usborne Encyclopedias.

The DK books have so many vibrant pictures and the Usborne you can use for years to come. I bought our encyclopedias about five years ago and they've proven invaluable resources.

Can't go wrong with Dk & Usborne, it seems. We've been checking some out from the library, and I have a hard time deciding what to purchase and what to simply borrow :-)

echomyst
03-30-2015, 12:26 AM
Dd always loved this: Anatomy for the artist: Jeno Barcsay: 9781566192453: Amazon.com: Books (http://smile.amazon.com/Anatomy-artist-Jeno-Barcsay/dp/1566192455/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1427458720&sr=8-2&keywords=anatomy+for+the+artist) When she was little - like maybe 4 or 5? - she was fascinated with human anatomy. She pulled this off the shelf daily and poured over the pictures. It still gets used pretty often as reference.

We have used our children's world atlas a lot. Star charts, too.

Anatomy! We have a couple of general titles on how our bodies work, but I hadn't thought of getting something more in-depth. Thanks for the recommendation.

We have a world atlas that we should probably update when the kids are older.

Do you have a telescope? If so, any recommendations? Right now we just search for stars and constellations with our naked eye, not sure if we'll take it a step further yet or not.

muddylilly
03-30-2015, 01:07 AM
Illustrated Dictionary of Math, Usborne......my boys have enjoyed looking through and figuring out new concepts that haven't been introduced yet by their curriculum.
World History Atlas, DK.....love this one! Global historical perspective of how political lines and world views constantly change.
Smithsonian Natural History encyclopedia, DK.....one of my sons loves having random stats/facts in his head like, "how much does a blue whale weigh?" "what's the difference between a polar bear and brown bear?"
I broke down and bought timelines for the wall....so glad I did. My boys are constantly checking what else was going on in the world while ...fill-in-the-blank.... was happening. A concept my adult mind took for granted. I bought Parthenon Graphics Classical Education Timeline Series (4 of them)
My active boys found SOTW quite boring....thankfully we borrowed it from the library, so back to the shelf it went. Gotta love a library card!!
Look into a good set of binoculars before the telescope....increases your field of view and makes things a little less frustrating for a novice. IMO

BTW: for what it's worth my boys are now 12 and 14 and homeschooled from day one.

muddylilly
03-30-2015, 01:45 AM
When buying reference material, keep in mind how quick our kids grow, so don't shy away from books that are "too mature" for your munchkins. Try to pick ones that they grow into and with. Over the years they will keep finding new things that they hadn't seen before. When they are little interests change like a light switch....this is when I found the library indispensable.
Of course all of this depends on quite a few factors.....how far away (convenient) and what is the quality of your local library.....what is your budget for a home library....how much space have you got at home.....how many siblings will get in line to make use of the goods....etc...:)

alexsmom
03-30-2015, 07:51 PM
About telescopes - DH has a really nice, expensive telescope (10" somethingorother). Its alright.
Really, though, the most inspirational telescope events Ive been to have been on Astronomy Day - coming up in April!
Looking through the *real* telescopes at the planets - breathtaking! Seeing the rings on Saturn, the bacon of Jupiter*... seeing Venus looking like a moon because it goes through phases... I will keep those with me forever.

*Maybe just because I was hungry - but it really looks like Jupiters surface is made of very large rashers of bacon.

eta: Heres general information about upcoming Astronomy Day
https://www.astroleague.org/al/astroday/astrodayform.html

You can search for your local observatory / clubs events. Lowell Observatory had free admission, lots of telescopes, and gave away a lot of cool stuff.