Beetles, bugs and…books!


How intriguing are creepy crawlies?! So many different shapes, sizes and colours. What better way to nurture a bit of book love than with a topic children will enjoy.
This bundle of non fiction triumphs make a great team and will definitely satisfy a young class of bug fans! Let’s creepy crawl into them here together, scuttle between the pages and weave a web of ideas to go with them.

Let’s first look at ‘A Beetle is Shy’. This is from a series by Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long. (Warning: do not look up others in the series or you will find your wallet empty!) The cover is such a colourful,enticing delight, ensured to grab the interest of many readers. Who knew beetles were so beautiful?! The style of this book, and those in the series, has a way of drifting you through the pages, as the calligraphic text sweeps across the page.

I love the language used: so many new vocabulary opportunities. One beauty of non fiction lies in the ability to jump in and out, to sections of interest. This book, though more narrative in approach, allows you to do this well. Each page is like pulling open one of those many drawers at the museum to find a jewel box of beetle gems. Can you tell I like this book? It really is a little treasure.


Before you jump into the text, let your children pore over the end pages. What would you name these beetles? How would you describe them? Let children pick one that interests them. Can they skim and scan through the book to find it? This is a nice chance to develop early non fiction skills.

Let’s crawl on to the next great book by Yuval Zommer:


This book is indeed big and it is another buggish beauty! It is full of mini beast delights, including a double page spread on beetles. Now we can begin some book to book fun. Can your children find the same beetle in each book? A lovely way to develop mini researchers.

Again the vocabulary is challenging and engaging. I like the Bug Words section, showing children how to talk like a bug expert.


At this point, I would be sharing with children that a bug expert is called an Entomologist. You could share the etymology of the word, showing ‘ology’ as the study of and ‘entomon’ from the Greek for insect. It might be nice to look at some #reallifescientists too. Try @scibugs and her #facebug campaign. Or try @drsarahbeynon who is MG Leonard’s scientific consultant for her beetle novels.

Another lovely feature of this book is the ‘Can you find..?’ spot on many pages. This encourages many early non fiction book skills, plus it’s a bit of fun too! At the back, you’ll find the ‘answers’, too!

Ready for another? Here’s the next stunner!


Insect Emporium by Susie Brooks and Dawn Cooper is another bug book that has me stroking the pages (yes I really do that 🙈). It’s full of stunning illustrations and great vocabulary.

Again, I spied a lovely beetle section to link in with our theme. Another great chance for book to book investigating. Can we match bugs from book to book? Do they look the same in each book?

Some other books you may like to dip into to encourage interest, book to book research and non fiction book skills:

Actual Size has a beetle children can measure and get a real sense of its size.

Creaturepedia is a wonderfully different encyclopaedia. Why not see what beetles you can find in there?

This is is a more traditional non fiction book, but I love this first book series by RSPB. They are child friendly in size and format. You can use the Spotter’s Guide as a visual index, again developing early non fiction book skills.

and finally my (and my Little one’s) favourite non fiction of the moment. This is  Wild Animals by National Trust books. It’s beautifully illustrated. It’s simple but great. (I’ll blog about this book on its own soon.)

With all this info and knowledge, with this motivation and inspiration, put it in a familiar context to let it bloom. Of course you can write your own non fiction but why not let non fiction give children’s fiction more detail and interest.

You could take a familiar story and use the terminology and descriptions to make a new version.

How about ‘We’re going on a Beetle Hunt. We’re going to catch an iridescent one. We’re not scared.’ It might make a nice link to y2 habitats learning in Science. Maybe Y1 could try A golden Butterfly and 3 Beetles, innovating Goldilocks and the 3 Bears?

A lovely book you could innovate that might lend itself is Spots by Helen Ward.


After exploring all the different patterns and colours of existing beetles, you could help a beetle search for the best body. In the original, the guinea fowl has no spots, yet all the other birds do. He writes a letter to request spots. Each parcel of spots arrives but is just not right, even some not spots. Until he chooses a set that make him smile. Children could play with this idea, designing their own ‘best body’ for their beetle . You could then create an information page for this newly invented beetle, as well as this story.

Reading skill focus:

Of course, we are always working towards stamina and careful comprehension. (We all know the KS1/2 test end goal – blurgh!) But we are nurturing readers, interested little human beings who want to learn! So let’s consider how we can do both, hand in hand.
The NC asks children to read beyond what they can independently. These books will certainly allow that. Often children in y1 will be mini experts in dinosaurs, trains, football teams and will have the vocabulary to go with it. So don’t be afraid to give them the power of vocabulary that comes from rich books like this, and watch them use it.

The NC asks children to develop pleasure in reading and a motivation to read. I hope I’ve shown how this selection of books will be motivating for 6-7year olds. It will definitely show them NF structured in different ways.

The NC asks children to draw on previous knowledge. Take some of the beetle names: Rhino beetle, Goliath beetle, Hercules beetle. What do children know about these names? Can they make a prediction about what these beetles will look like? Maybe do a prediction sketch?

The NC requires children to retrieve and record from non fiction texts. Give a purpose to this. Could you describe a mystery beetle? Children will need to retrieve information from the book(s)  to identify it.

Grammar Geek:

If you’re like me, you can’t switch that grammar radar off, even when you’re doing bedtime story for your little one! Here’s a few grammar ideas you could pick up on:

Y1 –

Look at capital letters for names such as Goliath Beetle and Hercules beetle.

Y2 –

Our favourite the expanded noun phrase – make good use of that new vocabulary. An iridescent, rainbow beetle.
Present tense (including progressive)
-They are growing in number…
-In this image it is eating…
The dreaded exclamation sentence  – What an iridescent armour it is!
The command sentence – Let’s talk about the amazing appearance of the …. beetle.
I would be using the 4 sentence forms in a little bundle as a slow write.

What better way to write questions than to write genuine ones. Why are they that colour? How much do they eat? Collect the questions. Answer them together. These Postcards might be useful to stimulate qu’s.

Beetle Postcards

Can we find the answers? Children could work in Book Detective groups, giving each group a different text. Come back and share. Now we’re using statements 😜.

Look at the possessive apostrophe- the beetle’s armour, the bug’s thorax.


I hope this has been useful. Please shout out with any questions or suggestions.

@Mrs_iPad_W – Your resident Reading Rocker


You may also like:

The Book of Beetles

The Beetle Book

Beetle Boy





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