Dynamic Book Duos: Discover Animals in their Natural Habitats!

Please welcome authors Susan Edwards Richmond and Melissa Stewart to Dynamic Book Duos– a blog featuring two books that pair together in a meaningful way along with coordinating educational activities to strengthen reading skills. This week’s Dynamic Book Duos pairing focuses on discovering animals in their natural habitats.

PERFECT PAIRS: Discover Animals in their Natural Habitats

Bioblitz! Counting Critters written by Susan Edwards Richmond and illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman and Tree Hole Homes: Daytime Dens and Nighttime Nooks written by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Amy Hevron are about the joy of discovering animals in their natural habitats. Pairing fiction and nonfiction books is a great way to reach a broader range of young readers.

Book 1: BIOBLITZ! Counting Critters

You might be amazed at the large number of insects, birds, and small mammals that inhabit even a very small plot of land. With Gabriel’s expertise in bugs and Ava’s eye for birds, the two cousins are eager to take part in the Bioblitz, or biodiversity count, in the community park. The cousins compete on different teams to see which group finds the most species of animal life by nightfall. This book will inspire young readers to count critters in their own neighborhoods!

Book 2: TREE HOLE HOMES: Daytime Dens and Nighttime Nooks

Take a peek into the hidden world inside a tree in this charming nonfiction exploration of creatures that depend on trees for shelter, by day and by night. Whether tree holes are big or small, built by birds or created by wind or lightning, they house an astonishing assortment of wildlife, from black bears and tree frogs to crabs and bobcats. This inviting introduction to a woodland wonder is sure to delight curious kids.

Activities for Educators and Caregivers

Activities for Bioblitz! Counting Critters

After reading the book, use stuffed animals or other animal models to have a mini-Bioblitz indoors. Then try sorting them using the classifications in the back of the book. Or create a survey sheet and ID the diversity in your backyard, school playground, or a nearby park.

Activities for Tree Hole Homes: Daytime Dens and Nighttime Nooks

If you are sharing the book with just one child or a small group, share the video about how author Melissa Stewart chose the topic for the book and the video about how artist Amy Hevron created the art using pieces of wood from all kinds of trees.

If you are working with a larger group, after reading the book, invite children to take on the roles of the featured animals and learn more about them by practicing and performing the related Readers Theater script.

Activities for Pairing Bioblitz! and Tree Hole Homes

Both books lead children on adventures through natural habitats. Ask children to describe habitats in each book and some animals that can be found there.

  • Which animals in Bioblitz! live in trees and could appear in Tree Hole Homes?
  • Are any animals in both books? If so, which ones?

Activity 1

Invite children to use words and pictures to create an additional page or pages for Tree Hole Homes for one of the tree-dwelling animals in Bioblitz!

Activity 2

Create a forest habitat using natural or art materials. Have children choose a favorite animal from either book to draw or make with clay, pipe cleaners, paper, or recycled materials, and make a “tree hole home” for it to live in.  

Meet the Authors

Suzanne Jacobs Lipshaw

Suzanne Jacobs Lipshaw is an award-winning nonfiction children’s book author and former elementary special education teacher who is passionate about growing young minds. Suzanne’s first nonfiction picture book, I Campaigned for Ice Cream: A Boy’s Quest for Ice Cream Trucks, debuted in April 2019 from Warren Publishing. Her second book Mighty Mahi launched from Doodle and Peck Publishing in March 2022. Suzanne enjoys speaking to schools about writing, leadership, and how kids can make a difference in our world. The proud momma of two grown boys, Suzanne lives in Waterford, MI with her husband and furry writing companion Ziggy. When she’s not dreaming up new writing projects, you can find her kayaking on the lake, hiking the trail, practicing at the yoga studio, or comparing paint swatches at the local Sherwin Williams.

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