Books: What counts in the “animal” category?

By providing books with various topics to children, you create opportunities for different types of learning experiences. Some books spark children’s imagination, some add information to what children already know, and others excite children with new interests. Providing a variety of books will expose children to different characters and can foster an understanding of other cultures. A wide range of books can help expand a child’s vocabulary and foster social and emotional development. Think about wording and feelings  a child experiences in Llama Llama Red Pajama compared to reading Where the Wild Things Are or Bugs A-Z.

Sea-Turtles-Glaser book_25Aug15_bing share and useThe Environment Ratings Scales have an indicator in the books and pictures item asking if there is a “wide selection” or a “variety” of books accessible. To help determine whether this indicator is met, we look through the accessible books and tally the number of books that fit into the specified categories (fantasy, factual, nature/ science, animals, race/ culture, abilities, etc.). Each category given in the scale must be represented to meet “wide selection.” See additional notes for each scale (ECERS-R, FCCERS-R, or ITERS-R) for more details.

Sometimes it can be difficult to decide which category the book actually fits in and sometimes books fall into multiple categories. One of the most common questions we receive is what type of books actually fall into the animal category. Do they have to be realistic photos of animals or is it any books about animals. The book category about animals should include realistic drawings or photos of animals. Sometimes these books will also count in the nature/ science and factual categories as well. Make believe books, such as those with cartoon animals or animals acting out human-like behaviors (e.g. cooking, riding bicycles) are fantasy.

We often see more fantasy books with animals than realistic or factual. Remember books can be located in a number of areas throughout the child care space, so the nature books in the science center may also have some books about animals.

Share some of your favorite books about animals and tell us how you would categorize the books below!

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Wildlife animal Illustrations for childrens books







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The-A-to-Z-Book-of-Wild-Animals_25Aug15_bing share and use









Melissa Wagner

Melissa Wagner

Melissa Wagner is an Early Childhood Coordinator with Iowa State University Extension & Outreach. Melissa has over 10 years of experience with the Environment Rating Scales as an assessor for research projects and Iowa's Quality Rating System and now as the ERS Training project coordinator. Melissa loves hearing success stories about providers who have made great strides to improve the quality of care within their program. In her free time she enjoys spending time with family, traveling, camping, and house projects.

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