Thursday, September 24, 2020

Shine-a-Light Books

If you haven't seen this series before, trust me when I say you need to check them out! Children ages 3-8 (and honestly, probably a little older) will think these are magical. The collection of nonfiction titles allows children to "see inside" various people, animals and objects to understand their inner workings. With only a flashlight or some natural light, littles will watch as each page transforms to reveal hidden portions of each image!

This is just a sampling of the Shine-a-Light titles, as there are currently 20 in the entire collection.  With that many, you're bound to find a topic you and your littles will both enjoy!


I mean, with a topic like dinosaurs, can you really go wrong?  Young audiences will take their flashlights and get the chance to see dinosaur bones, hidden dinos, dinosaur eggs and habitats.   A great deal of dinosaur facts, to include scientific names, will satiate the dinosaur-lover's hungry mind. 

After reading some other reviews, I've seen that some readers are disappointed that this title touches on evolution.  I prefer this, as I don't feel creationism and evolution are mutually exclusive, and it's important to teach scientific theories and facts in nonfiction titles.  It's worth noting, though, if this is something that will bother you or your family.

Let's take a peek inside at the magic!

As you can see, the "Shine-a-Light" design is created by printing white images on a black background on the back of each page.  When light hits the page, it easily shines through where there is no black ink!

Dinosaur fans will love curling up with this book and a flashlight for hours

The Human Body

Now this is a selection I wish I had in my classroom library last year right around this time!  I had just shared with my students that I was pregnant, and trying to explain the sonogram photograph was hilarious to kids who didn't have younger siblings.  Being able to "see into" a pregnant woman's belly shows in a way that's so easy for littles to understand!  

Littles will see skeletons, fingerprints, organs, and more and learn essential facts about each!   This is a must-have for anyone currently expecting, children who are interested in anatomy, or any doctors and nurses out there!  I wish they had cool books like this in doctors' office waiting rooms!

See what I mean? It's so neat! 

I love that this book brings kiddos' attention to things they might never think about or look at otherwise.  This will definitely pique readers' interest in the body and its functions!

Ok -- this one might scare some littles.  It's cool, but slightly creepy, and there have definitely been times when I've read stories or shown short videos that I think are totally fine, but then a child gets really upset.  (Like my nephew, who used to be TERRIFIED of the Grinch when he was little).  Something to keep in mind before you shine a light on the skeletons!

This one is also super informative!  I can tell you that, as a 31-year-old, I never thought twice about my kidneys before developing pre-eclampsia in pregnancy and having high blood pressure and low kidney function.  Now I know much more about kidneys than your average person!  Our bodies do so much for us on a daily basis that we don't have to put any thought into, though.  Inquisitive minds will really enjoy seeing what our body is doing behind the scenes!

Wonders of Our World

"Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are." -Mason Cooley

Talk about a field trip in a book!  No need to grab a passport, but readers will definitely have some wanderlust after diving into this one.  Sometimes it can be hard for young children to realize there's a MASSIVE world out there, just waiting to be explored.  Can you think back to when you were little and your neighborhood seemed enormous?  (Actually, mine still seems kind of big now, but you know what I'm saying.)

I love that this book inspires children to learn about places other than where they live.  It encourages a love for travel and exploration!

Having hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, camped at the bottom, and hiked back out again, I can say I'm pretty partial to this spread!  The mules are incredible.  You might be worried about a misstep, but they are cruising like it's no problem. 

The views that they choose to show are also clever! I love that you're seeing below the clouds in this one.

Again, this one is great for the budding adventurer and the family that loves travel and exploration!

Here's another view showing how the shine-a-light effect works!

Secrets of the Seashore
If you're teaching an Ocean unit, planning a family vacation, or just have a little one that can't get enough of the beach, this one is a fantastic resource for learning about marine life and ocean habitats!

I don't know if it's because I love the beach, but I think this tide pool page is my favorite out of all six books!  One of my least favorite things about swimming in the ocean is never being quite sure of what it is that I'm stepping on; what it is that's lurking just below the surface, out of sight!  This alleviates that concern -- I can see into the water! 

Young audiences will find discover what could be hiding inside of shells or underneath the sand!

I love how well the octopus camouflage is displayed.  Pairing this text with other nonfiction books about specific ocean creatures or with a sensory bin for ocean play would be so fun!

And of course there it is, the spiky sea urchin in the water! One of the many things we don't want to step on when we enter the ocean!

I must caution you that if you read this one without a beach trip planned, expect to plan one soon! 

Secrets of the Rainforest
The rainforest is a beautiful, fragile ecosystem, full of color, life, and... danger.  Luckily for us, we can peek inside the rainforest and learn all about the plant and animal life without leaving the comfort of our living room!

Did you spy the tadpole with its hind legs?  What a perfect opportunity for kiddos to activate prior knowledge if you've already learned the frog life cycle!

Yikes! There's the danger we're avoiding-- we don't want to come face to face with a snake, a jaguar, or poisonous frogs, but it sure is neat to find them among the pages and learn where their hiding places are!

Secrets of the Vegetable Garden
I feel like this one, just like The Human Body one, is a staple everyone needs.  Whether you're teaching a plant life cycle or introducing your little one to gardening, this is just one of those basic concepts that you want kiddos to be able to visualize and understand.  

Children can see everything that's required for a plant to grow at the same time.  This allows them to see the seeds being watered, even though the seeds are contained in the dirt.

Again, it's so helpful to see the visual of where the roots are in relation to the stem below the surface of the soil.  I can't look at this page without thinking of my 8th grade science experiment: 'Do Earthworms Affect Plant Growth?'  The answer is yes, and I actually won an award for my research and project presentation, but we also had earthworms make their way out of my potted plants and roaming freely in our basement.  I share this with you so you can (a) once again see how easy it is to model a text-to-self connection with your child or students, and (b) because look! This helps us see that earthworms help without having them all over our basement!


Of course a garden isn't just about the plants, flowers, and vegetables that grow.  It's also about the insects that live amongst the leaves and pollinate the garden!  I love that this book shows all aspects of the garden.  To include the rodents that come in and feed on the plants:


Regardless of which book you choose in the Shine-a-Light series, you're bound to be fascinated (and your children mesmerized!) by the sudden appearance of previously unseen aspects of the picture.  The unique interactive portion of these books makes them so fun and super engaging.  

Any teacher with a projector will tell you -- it's HARD to keep kids from playing with their shadows and blocking the projector light.  Light and shadows are inherently neat!  So you can choose a topic based on your interests, or use the books themselves to teach about light and shadows.  It's a similar experience to candling fertilized eggs: you're seeing into a world that was meant to be hidden, and it gives you a sense of awe and wonder!

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