Nice Stories for Nature Science
TammyA of Beaverton, 5/15/2018
The CLP Nature Reader series is 6 books (marked K-5th) of nature science stories written in narrative form.
The style is gentle, if a bit old fashioned "dear reader" styled. It is God and creation honoring, if a bit stilted at times to do so. All books are written at pretty much the same upper 1st to 2nd grade level (private school scoping) or 3rd grade level (public school scoping). Any child who has completed a full phonics course with basic syllabication should be able to read it fairly well. The sentence structure in any of the books is definitely not beyond a 2nd grade level with short sentences and simple structure.
In no way would I consider books 4 and 5 suitable for a 4th or 5th grade level student. The content is toned in much too simplistic, "now children," early elementary manner with a "story form" rather than the more sophisticated science discussion and vocabulary generally presented at those levels.
I find the K book (animals) and the 5th (human body) books to be the strongest for their greatest variety of content coverage. This is where the series falls a bit short. It is very limited in its scope in the middle books.
Book K has a nice variety of animals from mammals to reptiles to fish to insects. The reading is pleasant with a scientific feel.
Book 1 covers mostly insects....actually a LOT of insects. If you have a child who really enjoys insects, and a "jar garden," then this could be delightful. However, if you have a child who is squeamish about insects, you may find you need to skip the greater detail of some of the more "cannibalistic" types or skip over yet another insect type (I think there are 3 wasp types?). Unfortunately the mammals and reptile choices are very brief and not well developed in Book 1, so the material available after skipping insects is somewhat limited. Book K covers those in much better coverage.
The work is brilliant in the 5th book as it explains complex body systems in an incredibly easy to understand every day world analogy. However, because of its overall tone and old fashion flair, it is definitely a 1st to 3rd grade story time level not something most 5th graders would want to read for science. It would be excellent introduction at a primary level to prepare students for better scientific coverage at a 5th grade level.
Unfortunately books 2 through 4 cover a lot of the same insect material as book 1 only at greater depth. I would have preferred they'd taken the scope of Book K, adding in Book 1, and stretched all of that over the whole series at greater reading and depth levels, then added Book 5 at a higher reading tone and level.
For these reasons, I suggest that you carefully review all books before purchasing the whole series. Likely you will find Book K, possibly another middle book number, and Book 5 very sufficient to cover natural science reading for 1st through 3rd grade.
Because of its gentle reading style, I like to have the child read the story to me, with my support. Then, with some google searching, I create a color sheet or craft that matches the animal type we just studied. You can further extend, for those ready, a simple fact report or creative story from the story facts.
This series is truly delightful, however I do not believe most families will find it incremental from K to 5th, as promoted, for either reading or science. Rather, it is a pleasant nature read aloud for families with young children or read alone for primary grades that allows phonics based children to practice their full reading skills while learning gentle nature lessons.