Kids love butterflies and are generally fascinated by other insects too. Today Debbie Glade reviews two compact yet information-packed books for ages 6 and up about insects that linger in the garden.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading How to Raise Monarch Butterflies: a Step-by-Step Guide for Kids ($19.95, Firefly Books, Ages 6 and up) written and photographed by Carol Pasternak. What struck me first were the spectacular close-up photos of all the stages of the lifecycle of a monarch butterfly. Wow! After learning about the basic anatomy and metamorphosis of a monarch, readers will learn all they need to know about raising their own monarchs. There’s a list of supplies to gather, tips on how to find a caterpillar (on a milkweed plant), how to raise the caterpillar and watch the entire extraordinary lifecycle before your very eyes. You’ll also discover how to release your butterfly and what that creature will experience when out on its own. There are helpful Resources, a Glossary and Index too.

Children will love doing this project with an adult and will feel like true scientists doing an experiment as they watch and learn. The book is well written, takes you step-by-step and is easy to understand. Each of the 48 pages got me so excited about the prospect of raising my own butterflies that I’m going to try this myself. (I’ll let you know how it goes.)

Let’s Look at the Vegetable Garden ($11.99, Moonlight Publishing, Ages 6 and up) written by Caroline Allaire and illustrated by Sabine Krawczyk is a unique and wonderful book. It is one of many Close Up books by Moonlight Publishing that teach kids about science. The book is spiral bound so it opens flat and is compact in size so the reader can bring it outside in the garden for reference. In the back is a clever paper magnifying glass that you place around several wonderful cellophane illustrations to “magnify” the images. There’s even a paper magnifier case too. The book highlights six different insects one would find in a vegetable garden. Through descriptions and illustrations, readers learn what the critters look like, what they like to eat and how they live. In addition to the featured insects, a few pages of the book lists some of the many other bugs typically found in vegetable gardens, complete with illustrations.

As an avid organic gardener myself, I know how important it is to learn about all the critters that want to eat the food I am growing for my family. This book is an excellent tool for the youngest gardeners, as it will help them understand all the challenges farmers face and help them appreciate the food they produce for us to eat. What’s more, it reminds them that humans are not the only animals on earth who need to eat the food that grows in the ground.

Click here to check out the other titles in the Close Up Series.

I highly recommend both of these books. They are beautiful, educational and inspire young minds to explore the natural world around them.  Parents and teachers will love them too.

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