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October 2008    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 23, No. 10   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Even You Could Learn from These Kids’ Dive Books

from the October, 2008 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Want to turn your young kids or grandkids into divers? A good Christmas gift could be photo-filled books that get them interested in the oceans. When I got some grade-school books for review, I asked my two nephews, eight-year-old Asa and five-year-old Owen, to help me critique them -- and determine if they’d get hooked on marine life.

First up was Underseas Encounters, a series of 10 books from Scholastic, photographed by underwater pro David Hall with easy-to-read text by children’s book expert Mary Jo Rhodes. Each book is an in-depth chapter on marine life, from crabs to dolphins to sea predators. The boys oohed and ahhed over great close-ups of an open-mouthed basking shark and scary-faced wolf eel. They listened intently as I read the amazing, in-depth information. There were many times when I said, “Wow, I didn’t know that” as we read together. I mentally stashed lots of facts to remember for my next dive trips. Each book lists more resources to learn more about the marine life profiled. Owen loved Seahorses and Sea Dragons for the pretty photos, while Asa was thrilled by Predators of the Sea, but they gave all the books a thumbs-up. The reading level is for ages 9-12 but younger kids can easily follow along. Paperback, 9 x 8 inches, $6.95 each.

Then we read the two latest kids’ books by photographer Michael Patrick O’Neill, who has published six. Ocean Magic is an overview of reefs and sea creatures for grades 1-4. The photos are good, but the boys thought the text wasn’t exciting. “There’s a photo of a pretty fish, but I don’t learn anything about it,” said Asa. A better bet was Shark Encounters - - the boys enjoyed the descriptions of hammerheads, whitetips, etc., then each picked their favorite shark. O’Neill only dabbled in the problems sharks face today, but when I explained about finning, Owen cried and wanted to go to Cocos Island and save the hammerheads. Both books are hardcover, 11 x 8 inches, $20 each.

Kids’ Dive BooksThe boys asked their mom for posters of sharks and seahorses, plus diving lessons. Then Asa asked me, “When we’re old enough, can we come dive with you?” So I think the books worked. Buy them at Undercurrent -- you’ll get them at Amazon.com’s best price, and you can tell the kids that the purchases are helping to save coral reefs.

- - Vanessa Richardson

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