The Rainforest Grew All Around is a fantastic nonfiction book that simultaneously entertains and educates—definitely a book worth knowing about.
There are two parts within the single book. The first part is the cumulative rhyme, a fun adding-on type of poem that is great to read out loud.
It appropriately begins with a single seed in the ground; from the seed grows a massively and wonderfully oversized kapok tree. The line “The tallest tree that you ever did see” is accurate as the beautiful illustration shows a worm’s eye view (if a worm could see that far)—from the ground, looking up into its impossibly high limbs.
The rhyme continues and animals, plants, and insects are added and introduced in turn. A jaguar lay on a limb, a vine curls around a branch, a leafcutter ant nibbles on a leaf, a toucan perches nearby.
The reader quickly realizes that the kopak tree isn’t just a big, cool tree—it’s a home to all these living things within the larger habitat of a rain forest. Through useful repetition, the author reminds readers again and again how diverse the residents are in this single kopak tree.
That is pretty cool if you think about it—when my kids, ages 6 and 4 ½, listened to me read it, you could almost hear their minds clinking and clanking as they registered how important this one tree was within the rainforest.
In addition to the rhyme, the book provides a second part: additional information on each living thing within the kopak tree.
For example, when starting with the kopak tree that grows from the seed, we learn that these trees can grow to be 150 to 200 feet. Even more noteworthy is the additional illustration of a kopak tree next to a super tall (15 to 20-story) building!
While still just a basic introduction to the rainforest, The Rainforest Grew All Around provides a solid overview of what sorts of animals, plants, and insects can be found in that particular habitat.
The activities in the back of the book are just a few examples of how you can use this book to teach your kids about the rainforest. One yummy activity is to make “rainforest cookies” using eight ingredients found in the rainforest. The other activities are easier on the waistline—lessons on adaptations/camouflage.
I wish there was a small discussion on deforestation, even though I recognize this is a big issue to tackle with little kids. Still, after reading this book and realizing quickly how important a single tree is to so many different living things, kids are going to fall in love with trees.
I think there are a lot of possible ideas and projects that might happen if you can harness a child’s strong emotional attachment to an important environmental issue. (Remember, kids think that anything is possible, including serious change about which we adults are skeptical.)
Even without the additional environmental notes I’ve mentioned, this is a great resource for kids to have at their fingertips. I definitely recommend it to you and your family.
The Rainforest Grew All Around
By Susan K. Mitchell, Illustrated by Connie Mclennan
Sylvan Dell Publishing http://www.SylvanDellPublishing.com
Price: Available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Books a Million! for approximately $15 for hardback, $8 for paperback.
|Easy to Read||4|
|Quality of Illustrations
|Appealed to Both Boys and Girls||5|
|Kept My Child(ren)’s interest||4|
|I Would Purchase This For My Family||yes|
|I would Purchase This As A Gift||yes
| Overall Rating
All ratings on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being highest.
Meet the Reviewer!
Kate Schwarz is a full-time mom
and wife living in Great Falls, VA.
In addition to reading to her three
small hildren, Kate runs marathons,
Crossfits, and blogs about raising
kids with books at