I don’t know if this is true for the majority of public librarians who serve children, but I have students in the first and second grade asking for non-fiction book all the time. Recently, I had a teacher at a nearby school assign the kids to read five non-fiction books in one go. Upon further questioning, both kids and parents insisted they didn’t care what the book was about per se; they just wanted a book their kids could read, one that would fulfill the assignment. Ultimately, parents wanted age-appropriate books that were interesting and easy-to-read. That’s not necessarily a simple order when it comes to non-fiction, especially in my library where I have a lot of children who aren't strong readers or who are still learning English as their second language.
I think I found a winner with Introducing Dinosaurs: Tyrannosaurus Rex by Susan H. Gray. Gray adeptly explains what a Tyrannosaurus Rex is, what it probably (see Boy, Were We Wrong About Dinosaurs! for more on that) looked like, its habits, and how scientists came to these conclusions. Robert Squier’s illustrations are clear and colorful and Gray also intersperses actual photographs of dinosaur bones and excavations, including Sue, the most complete, reconstructed T. rex skeleton at the Field Museum. 24 pages long, the book includes a table of contents, a world map indicating where T. rex bones have been found, a brief entry on fossil hunters, a glossary, and recommended books and a website (childsworld.com/links). The author should have included more on-line resources, as that’s where kids will inevitably look first. The Child’s World site requires the user to first input the book’s ISBN in order to go to their on-line resources. No child is going to get over that barrier to entry, especially the target audience. Publisher fail.
As my collection needs refreshing, especially for the younger grades, I will definitely order more in this series. The Child’s World Introducing Dinosaurs collection features 12 titles: Allosaurus, Ankylosaurus, Apatosaurus, Compsognathus, Iguanodon, Maiasaura, Oviraptor, Spinosaurus, Stegosaurus, Triceratops, Tyrannosaurus Rex, and Velociraptor.