Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Picture Books (Science): The Water Cycle

The water cycle is a fascinating and vital topic to teach.  I have highlighted three selections, each at a different level of child-readiness.  These books can be used as enriching reading at home as well as to introduce, to teach, or to extend a lesson on the topic. 
This selection introduces the water cycle at its basic form.  The authors begin with water experiences that young children are already familiar—coming from a hose, wobbling in puddles, and pouring from a faucet.  Then, they poses the question:  Where does water come from? The response is a beautiful poetic depiction of the water cycle as a continuous circle of precipitation, evaporation, and condensation.  The imagery is vivid and vibrant.  For example, the rain is described as cascading from the clouds, meandering down the mountains, and wavering over the waterfalls.  There is a shift to the importance of water to all life from the plants and animals to you and me. The illustrations appear to be a blend of collage and paint with lots of texture and energy.  I recommend All the Water in the World for ages 3 and up. 

Jakab’s book builds on the previous recommendation and goes into more detail on the cycle as well as related areas.  She begins by defining a cycle and connecting it to several different ones in science, such as rock, animal life, seasons, and plant life.  Next, she defines “water” and explains its importance.  She breaks the water cycle into four parts—rain, rivers & oceans, water vapor, and clouds.  Each one is explained in a straight-forward manner and accompanied by photographs or diagrams.  Significant parts are labeled and/or explained concisely.  The final sections are on the balance of nature (how the other cycles relate to the water cycle), the relationship between people and water, and the importance of conservation.  Also included are ideas for saving water, information on how to collect fresh water, a glossary of key terms, and an index for easy reference.  Earth’s Cycles: The Water Cycle does an excellent job introducing and explaining this vital science concept.  I recommend it for ages 7 and up.

The Water Cycle (by Francis Purslow)
Purslow combines a traditional non-fiction book with modern technology resources.  She goes in-depth describing water states at their molecular level with pictures to illustrate.   Key areas are covered:  condensation, clouds, precipitation, transpiration, and evaporation.  I like how she explains and depicts types of precipitation, condensation, and clouds.  There are numerous striking photographs that accompany each area. Other interesting subjects are also introduced.  For instance, there is a map of the world that shows the availability of fresh water in each geographical region.  This information is an excellent discussion starter and critical thinking opportunity.  Also, a timeline highlights key discoveries made by scientists as they learned about aspects of the cycle.  The topic is rounded off with information on pollution, hydrologists, and fun water facts.  Modern technology and hands on activities are blended with the text.  By logging into a publisher website, there is access to audio, video, and other web links.  I recommend The Water Cycle for ages 9 and up.  

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