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I cannot claim to be a huge lover of creepy crawlies. In fact, I can trace my particular dislike of arachnids to the Arachnapobia movie trailer (I’ve still never seen that movie) and an incident when I woke up to a large spider on the outside of my mosquito net.
Wait—let’s back up a second. I had a mosquito net? Ya—you know, the full net that goes over your bed in areas where mosquitoes are the main vector of infectious disease? I had one of those over my bed in Delta, BC. That’s how much I hated mosquitoes. My Mom made me a protective net. She wasn’t protecting me from malaria. She was protecting herself from being awoken on a nightly basis by her daughter, insisting that she kill the mosquito in her bedroom. Yes. I made my mother get out of her bed, turn on my light and hunt down the itsy, bitsy mosquito in my room. And if she didn’t find it? As soon as I heard it buzzing again, I’d be calling her back.
Then there’s Papa Wolf, who took a bat to the beehives on his dad’s farm and … well you can probably imagine who got the short end of that stick. As a grown man, he was bitten by a venomous snake while hiking alone in Spain. A small-town bartender wound up calling an ambulancia for him, and he was hospitalized. The doctors were intrigued: Did he lie down to nap in the grass and get bitten in his sleep? No, señor, he picked it up!
Conclusion? I’d like my children to respect but not fear the creatures around them. I want to develop and foster Cub’s current curiosity about animals, and bugs in particular, and the best way to do that is with books!
We got Cub a magnifying glass, and he’s searching for things to “spy” with it on the daily. (His father also taught him how to make fire with it … much to my chagrin.) I would prefer that he doesn’t find critters to magnify inside the house, but there was something flitting about in the soil when we started our seeds indoors a couple of weekends ago.
Thanks to our new book collection, we know all about the characteristics of insects versus arachnids and were able to identify the tiny egg clusters on the bush outside our townhouse as ladybug eggs. Ants are a big deal right now, and Cub frequently has to drop whatever he’s doing (or whatever I want him to be doing) to observe them.
We have a bug jar, and I am required to catch bugs for him to observe. The day we caught two ladybugs was, conveniently (and purely coincidentally), ladybug-craft day at preschool. He brought the ladybugs in to show his classmates, and I felt like the best accidentally-on-purpose preschool mom ever! The other day, the bug jar even caught something all by itself. Cub ran outside on Saturday morning to see how the bugs in his bug jar were doing. I expected a severe meltdown, since I knew I had released said bugs the day before. Much to my surprise, a crane fly had flown into the jar, and Cub was quite pleased.
Here are the DK Books titles in our new collection:
This tiny little book is perfect for tucking in the diaper bag as a boredom buster. It was a great distraction while we were waiting at the doctor’s office and a good field-guide while we were out bug hunting!
DK Smithsonian: Everything you need to know about BUGS
Turns out I don’t know that much about bugs. There are even more bugs on earth than I ever imagined, as demonstrated by this map:
Now Cub and I can discuss the different branches of the arthropod family, which—fun fact—can be differentiated by the number of legs. You’ve got insects (six legs), arachnids (eight legs), crustaceans (ten legs) and centipedes or millipedes (30+ legs). A “bug” with no legs? Not an arthropod!
DK Smithsonian: Super Nature Encyclopedia
Readers of all ages seem to be fascinated by astonishing animals facts. Every kid can tell you the world’s largest mammal or the world’s fastest. Sure, cheetahs and blue whales are in the Super Nature Encyclopedia, but the most super creatures in this beautifully illustrated tome are the mothers. Hats off to the Naked Mole Rat, who can give birth to up to 33 babies at a time:
And the Common Octopus, who dies shortly after her baby eggs hatch, since she doesn’t ever leave their side … not even to eat!
We also learned that male Elephant Seals are five-times the size of females. Ouch.
Did You Know? Animals
Curiosity is perhaps the trait I am most eager to foster in my children. Curiosity feeds imagination and ingenuity, and I hope they continue to love learning new things as much as my husband and I still do. “Did You Know? Animals” is the perfect book for kids to stump the adults around them with 200 questions and answers about creatures great and small. One of my favourite diagrams is this one:
Cub has already started saying he doesn’t like spiders. I am hoping we can avoid a fear of spiders and instead inspire fascination. My husband, if I let him, would own a tarantula. I wouldn’t sleep well with a tarantula in the house, so I’m not opposed to my kids disliking spiders (that way, they can help me veto an 8-legged pet), but I would like to avoid being awoken by a blood-curdling scream due to a tiny spider in the bathroom.
Find your favourite DK Books titles using my affiliate link to Amazon.ca!