Sometimes it feels like the preschool world is obsessed with talking pigs (peppa & george), a deep sea exploring polar bear, cat and penguin (octonauts) or a family of Australian dogs (bluey). While there is a place for make believe, I want you to consider, just for a minute, the world of reference, the world of encyclopedias, the world of non-fiction - for preschoolers!
To create children who are critical thinkers with a strong foundation in reality, I want to encourage you to start a little children's reference library. I want my children to know how to research and how to use a reference book - before they learn how to use google. I want my children to critically question the source of information and become critical consumers of information.
A children's reference library doesn't have to be big or expensive. We can collect books as the child ages, we can put reference books on the child's wish list for birthdays or for celebrations. We can borrow reference books from the library. Perhaps we have reference books from our own childhood we can share.
The reference books we use depends greatly on the child's age. While my eleven-year-old has complex reference books on evolution, elements, technology and inventions. My four-year-old has basic, large format reference books on dinosaurs, space and reptiles. For preschoolers, I love the My First Discoveries range and the DK First Reference books. For primary-age children, the Smithsonian range is lovely, especially the Smithsonian visual encyclopedias.
These shelves are in my preschooler's bedroom. As you can see, we love to borrow reference books from the library. We are looking for a new children's atlas, so we've borrowed some from the library to see which one works best.
I like to have a few field guides on the children's bookshelves too. Here we have field guides on reptiles and amphibians, birds, trees and the seashore.
My preschooler loves dinos, and this interest is a fantastic gateway for learning about language, history, habitats, anatomy, lifecycles, and so much more. 🦕
Many of the My First Discoveries books can be used from toddlerhood. I also love the American Museum of Natural History board books for toddlers and preschoolers. I might be in the minority, but I much prefer the accuracy in Caterpillar to Butterfly compared to Eric Carle's classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
My preschooler is developing an interest in volcanos and rocks! A book about rocks and minerals is useful.
We have lots of story books, and my preschooler is into some fantasy superhero play, but we really balance that out with a good foundation in reality and a developing reference library. ❤️
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