THE OXFORD FIRST ENCYCLOPEDIA. Earth and the Universe. Science and Technology. My Body. Animals and Plants. By Andrew Langley. Oxford University Press. pound;4.99 each.
What sort of scientific non-fiction books do you want in your school or class library?
Books that will support children's understanding of the national curriculum by looking in depth at a particular feature of it; or books that skim the surface of the prescribed curriculum, but which may lead your pupils into other areas of general interest? Both have their place, but only if you need the latter type, should you consider these four volumes.
They cover a wide range of subjects and both text and pictures are crisp and clear. The author has used many strategies to draw young readers into the text. For example, on a page about animal groups, children are given the names of animals such as an octopus or a millipede and asked to locate them on the page. They will need to do some careful scanning to find them in the mollusc and arthropod groups respectively. There are also some startling facts. Did you know that there is enough stone in the coral of the Great Barrier Reef to build 8 million Egyptian pyramids?
Nowhere do the books state the target age group, but the content they cover puts them firmly in the top junior bracket.
Anne Goldsworthy is an independent consultant and chair of the ASE primary committee.