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The Best Books About Insects for Young Readers

By Sheila Welch

What could be a more appropriate subject for summertime reading than insects? Here are four books – very different in content, intent, and format – all dealing with insects.

The Gnats of Knotty Pine

The Gnats of Knotty Pine
A favorite of my own children, THE GNATS OF KNOTTY PINE by the prolific author / illustrator, Bill Peet, is not a book admired by the NRA. Peet doesn’t hide his own negative opinion of the “sport” of hunting. The first few pages depict a meeting in the forest attended by an assortment of wild critters from the largest ( a gigantic moose) to the smallest (one tiny gnat in a swarm of gnats). The animals are hoping to devise a way to stay alive and deal with the hunters. How they accomplish their goal is clever and will amuse readers in third through fifth grade.

An extraordinary life: the story of a Monarch butterfly

An extraordinary life of a Monarch butterfly
AN EXTRAORDINARY LIFE: THE STORY OF A MONARCH BUTTERFLY by Laurence Pringle with paintings by Bob Marstall is a comprehensive look at these insects that’s appropriate for fourth graders through adults. By focusing on the life of one female monarch butterfly, readers are presented fascinating information about these attractive and familiar insects. With its large size and detailed illustrations on every double-page spread, this book could inspire children to become monarch enthusiasts.

The life and times of the ant

THe life and times of the ant
Not as colorful as butterflies but just as interesting, ants are the subject in an informational book written and illustrated by Charles Micucci, titled THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE ANT. Combining paintings of realistic ants with humorous anthropomorphic ants, the author/ illustrator creates a child-friendly format  that will entice readers in kindergarten through fourth grade to learn many surprising facts about the lowly ant. For example, ants have been around for more than 100 million years, outlasted dinosaurs on Earth, and are often compared to humans because of their communal and cooperative life style.

Let’s go ‘round in the alpha-bug town

Let's go 'round the alpha-bug town
LET’S GO ‘ROUND IN ALPHA-BUG TOWN is a rollicking alphabet book featuring playful rhymes (sometimes scientific; sometimes silly) about all sorts of  creepy crawling critters. Written by Judith Schmidt and illustrated by Cat Fortier, this brand new hardcover book exemplifies how clever text and whimsical art can complement each other and make a totally appealing book. ALPHA-BUG TOWN will delight little listeners in kindergarten through second grade, while independent  readers in third, fourth, and fifth grade will giggle their way from A to Z. To order a copy for your family, please contact the author directly at :

About Sheila

Sheila Kelly Welch is a mother, grandmother and retired teacher. She counts among her children’s fiction books LITTLE PRINCE KNOW-IT-ALL and A HORSE FOR ALL SEASONS. Sheila's novel, WAITING TO FORGET, has been selected by Bank Street College and Pennsylvania School Library Association for their lists of best-books-of-the-year. Her most recent stories, MESS-UP MOLLY and BIG CAT AND KITTEN, are published on-line by MeeGenius.