Scholastic’s What If You Had series by Sandra Markle, illustrated by Howard McWilliam, presents an irresistible combination of factual information and whimsical imagining in this series of engrossing nonfiction books.
I love that the specific science information sticks because readers get to relate it directly to their own lives. This is an important reading comprehension strategy that good readers use. (See reading comprehension strategies here.)
The illustrations show kids of color and kids in wheelchairs — yeah! The imaginative pictures show the silly, often laugh-out-loud, version of kids with the animal part. You’ll love them.
Even though these are short, 32-page non fiction books, the Lexile level is high (in the 900s) so I would recommend these books for read aloud, guided reading, or shared reading for kindergarten, first and second grades (ages 5, 6, and 7) and independent reading for grade three and up (ages 8+.)
What If You Had NonFiction Book Series
What If You Had an Animal Nose!?
Colorful, well-designed layout make this pleasing to read. First, you’ll read a page with color photographs and information about the animal’s unique nose. Then, the next page shows an illustration with a kid that has the animal nose instead of a human nose.
Learn how the Tapir has a handy nose made of muscle to bend and move which is called a proboscis. If you had a tapir’s nose, you could use it to catch a home-run ball.
Or read about the grizzly bear’s nose with lots of smell sensors for tracking down food. Imagine that if you had one, you could sniff out the best houses for treats on Halloween.
What other noses will you learn about? An elephant, cottontail rabbit, saiga, star-nosed mole, rhinoceros, giant anteater, Bourret’s horseshoe bat, and hammerhead shark.
The book concludes with information extolling the virtues of your human nose. Plus, how to take good care of it.
What If You Had Animal Hair!?
Can you imagine waking up to find you had hair like a . . . polar bear? (It would be easier to play outdoors in cold and wet weather!) Or how about a three-toed sloth? (You’d ever be alone since your hair is the home for many harmless insects.)
In the same structure as all of the What If You Had books, read about the animal’s hair then see how it would be for you to have it, too. Animals include: Arctic fox, giant pangolin, porcupine, zebra, and more.
Finish with information on how human hair grows then how to take care of it. Good stuff.
What If You Had Animal Teeth!?
Imagine you lost two front teeth. Instead of growing adult human front teeth, you grow animal teeth instead!
How about beaver teeth? They’re filled with iron, orange, and would help you gnaw tough stuff all day.
Great white shark teeth are sharp like a steak knife. Since their teeth are in layers, you’d never worry about gaps in your teeth since one would be already grown and waiting.
Or how about a narwhal? (My daughter’s favorite animal.) Your tusk / tooth would help you poke around for fish or fight enemies.
Read what it would be like to have the teeth of other animals like an elephant, rattlesnake, naked mole rat, vampire bat, hippopotamus, Bengal tiger, crocodile, and camel.
The illustrations in this book are wild and CRAZY. You’ll wince seeing the little girl smiling with a mouth filled with tons of sharp shark teeth. Or the boy in the dentist’s chair with crocodile front teeth that stick out over his lips. They’re all quite dramatic!
Other Books in the What If You Had Series:
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