MAGAZINE: Zoobooks

  • Note: Because Zoobooks” is a magazine that is published several times a year, I will focus this post on the magazine in general, not a specific issue.


Title: Zoobooks
Created and Written By: Various…could be created and written by the same person or different people.
Consultants: Each issue has its own scientific consultants and sometimes zookeeper.
Publication Date: Published 10 times a year
Publisher: Wildlife Education, Ltd.
To subscribe: Zoobooks.com or Amazon.com; individual copies can be purchased at certain retailers/bookstores as well, including Kindle editions from Amazon.com.
Format: Periodical
Content Summary: Zoobooks is a educational magazine for kids who love animals, filled with pictures, illustrations, informative articles, a tear-out activities section, and links to subscriber-only activity pages online. Each issue features one animal (e.g. “Spiders”, September 2012), or a group of animals (e.g. “Koalas & Other Australian Animals”, October 2012).
Audience:  K-5
Strengths:

  • The magazines are packed full of animal facts that kids will find fascinating. The content is usually organized the same way from issue to issue: an introductory page with general information about the animal, followed by pages on specific topics such as the animal’s anatomy, habitat, life cycle, etc. 
  • There are many color photographs and illustrations that come with detailed captions, great for visual learners.
  • Kids are encourage to submit work to the magazine for a chance to see it published in future issues. This encourages active and cross-curricular learning (e.g. kids draw, write about what they’ve learned, or write poems/stories about an animal).
  • Kids enjoy the Tear-Out Activities section, with word searches, secret codes, or picture puzzles. Subscribers can log onto Zoobooks.com for online games/activities. They can also read an online version of the magazine, with interactive features.
  • The Zoobooks website provides some great teaching resources for educators, such as a comprehensive index of the entire Zoobooks collection, a 20 Questions game that can be printed out to be used in the classroom, and a curriculum based on Zoobooks.
  • The website also has a listing of suggested literature for animal lovers, animal riddles, jokes, facts, and brain teasers, as well as ways to get involved in animal conservation. There is a page about animal careers.
  • Each issue comes with a tear-out poster.
  • There is now a ZooWho app (www.zoobooks.com/fun) that kids can download for free.
  • Unlike other magazines for children, this one is ad-free except for ads for Zoobook magazine subscriptions or other Zoobook-run services (e.g. a game called Ekoloko at zb.ekoloko.com).
  • You can purchase individual Zoobooks in Kindle editions.

Weaknesses:

  • It’s rather expensive to subscribe ($29.95/year for 10 issues), especially for larger libraries that might need multiple copies.
  • Though there is a LOT of good information, I wish it were organized better. Right now, tidbits/facts are scattered throughout the page, making it hard — especially for younger readers — to know where to start. This is especially frustrating for sections that discuss life cycles or processes by which animals build nests or gather/hunt for food, for example, since the sequence of steps is very important. A more experienced reader or a parent/teacher may be able to put together the pieces, but this would be very confusing for younger or newer readers. This design flaw could be easily fixed simply by numbering the steps/stages or putting the information in one box.
  • I would also have liked more learning aids such as glossary, index, table of content, etc.

Uses:

  • Pleasure reading for kids who love animals
  • A source for research
  • Curricular support: teachers can use these to talk about different life cycles, different types of animals (mammals vs. reptiles vs. marsupials, etc.), animals in different continents, etc. The possibilities are wide and varied.
  • I’ve seen this used as part of a lesson/discussion on the non-fiction/informational text genre and its key features (e.g. photographs/illustrations with captions, sidebars, callout boxes, etc. At the same time, since Zoobooks lacks many of the learning aids/organizers that most informational texts have, it might be interesting to have kids look at similar magazines (National Geographic Kids, Ranger Rick, etc.) and compare/contrast these features, the overall design and layout, etc.
  • Also a good introduction to magazines/periodicals as a different format available for reading. Reluctant/struggling readers might enjoy reading text that is divided into smaller, more digestible blurbs.
  • A teacher has used this to introduce non-fiction writing. The kids choose an animal, research it, decide what information they want to include in their magazine/brochure/book, devise an outline, make drafts, write the good copy, find photos or illustrate, etc.

Awards/Best Books (from CLCD):