Two New Books About Deserts and Desert Animals

Since we are honoring Arizona this week, what better way to celebrate than reading two new nonfiction picture books about deserts and desert animals.

Gila (pronounced he-lah) monsters are unusual lizards found only  in the desert Southwest. Get to Know Gila Monsters (Get To Know Reptiles) by Flora Brett helps the young reader sort through the myths and learn where they live, what they look like, and whether the bites of the Gila monster really fatal. (Spoiler:  the bites are not fatal to people).

Brett has done a good job of ferreting out the facts that will be interesting to children, such as how big are they, what do they eat, their life cycle, and whether or not Gila monsters are venomous. I really like the fact boxes. Also, the glossary is included on the pages where the words are used, so the reader is much more likely to read them.

The book is illustrated with color photographs. Just a note, there is one photograph of a Gila monster eating a deer mouse that might be a bit too graphic for sensitive youngsters.

Get to Know Gila Monsters is a perfect introduction to a desert creature that will be unfamiliar to many people. This is a must have for units on deserts and would also be useful for lessons about life cycles.

Age Range: 6 – 9 years
Publisher: Capstone Press (January 1, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1491422459
ISBN-13: 978-1491422458

A Day and Night in the Desert (Caroline Arnold’s Habitats) by Caroline Arnold reveals that deserts are not barren, but are actually filled with all sorts of unique living things by introducing the reader to the many creatures found in the Sonoran desert.


As the words “day” and “night” suggest, this story reveals which desert creatures are active at different times, from 6:00 a.m. one morning until 6:00 a.m. the following day. The reader learns about the concepts of diurnal and nocturnal as the author creates a story arc through the passage of time. With the distinctive cut-paper collage illustrations and narrative style, Arnold has created a nonfiction book that will appeal to young readers who think they prefer fiction.

A Day and Night in the Desert is a wonderful book to introduce the concept of time (for youngest readers) and also how different desert animals respond to desert habitats.

Age Range: 5 – 8 years
Publisher: Picture Window Books (February 1, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1479560847
ISBN-13: 978-1479560844


Try our desert-related activities inspired by these two books at Growing With Science.

Looking for more books for kids about desert habitats? Try our growing list at Science Books for Kids.


Disclosures: These books were supplied by the publisher for review purposes. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.




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