Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Reading: Coral Reef

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Every year, it seems that the non-fiction books in my class library are the first to be selected by eager hands.  They are passed around with anticipation, as students await diving into the deliciously rich photographs.  In Coral Reef, a photographic journey of coral reefs and written by Steven Parker for the Priddy Books company (Big Ideas for Little People), readers can explore the depths of the ocean ecosystem through vibrant, enchanting photos that consume entire pages.  Even as an adult, I enjoyed reading Coral Reef, though like many non-fiction books, it does not have to be read like a traditional book from front to back.  

Each page in Coral Reef includes a bold heading in interesting, bubble-letter font.  The text is almost overlooked amongst the amazing photos, but each page includes a short paragraph to tell about coral reefs with the most important words highlighted in blue, yellow, pink, purple, green, brown, and orange.   These words also appear in the glossary at the back of the book.

Besides photographs and headings, this informational book is chock full of other non-fiction text features that students can use in meaningful ways.  There are various charts and diagrams found throughout the book, including a double-page spread of a world map.  On this map, each coral reef is numbered, and an accompanied chart is on the same page with a name for each number.  Color coding is used to indicate warm reefs and cold reefs, and this key is included on these pages, as well.  Circular photos are displayed beneath the map, and their content is explained with helpful captions.

On other pages, boxes containing "fun facts" pop out at students, as well as a rating scale to indicate the endangered level of particular plants and animals, such as coral polyps and the green turtle.  These ratings are shown with seashells.  Other creatures that are explored in Coral Reef are the moray eel, the parrotfish, a sea snake, sea slugs, cleaner shrimp, sea dragons, lionfish, stingrays, and many others!   

Coral Reef not only enhances students' knowledge about various sea animal and plant species, it also explores dangers to this fragile ecosystem and can be used to integrate geographical knowledge.  The beauty and wonder found within each page make books exciting for children - Coral Reef has been a "buzz-book" among my students since I added it to our classroom last month, and I was excited to take a look at it for myself!  To consider adding this book to your library, or to look at more informational and engaging books for your students, check out the Priddy Books Website!

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