Recently, I was contacted by Robert Jacob, the author of a new series of books, The Gumshoe Archives. I’m a sucker for books, and also a sucker for reviewing neat curriculum supplements I have never heard of before, so I jumped on the chance to get a closer look at his set of fourth grade science readers.
These books are something special because they fall into the “living books” category of curriculum supplements. This means that instead of using a dry textbook, your kiddo gets to absorb information through an engaging story.
In the fourth grade series, there are 5 books:
The Disappearing Lake (The Water Cycle)
The Stolen Panda (Understanding Weather)
The Vanishing Diamonds (Rock Properties and Soil Formation)
The Zombie of the Lake (Wetlands, Forests and Deserts)
The Rouge Dragon (Fossil Formation)
These books are mystery novels. Each one has some sort of puzzle the characters are trying to solve, and along the way, they learn all sorts of scientific principles. The vocabulary taught in the book is defined before the story begins, and then every time one of the words in mentioned, it is highlighted in the text. At the end of every chapter is a “Junior Detective Exam” with 5-6 questions for your child to answer to test their understanding. Answers to the questions are not included in the text, but are available in a separate answer key.
The reading level of these books feels appropriate for the 4th grade, perhaps slightly on the easier side. This means that Bug didn’t have to push himself with his reading skills to absorb the information easily- reading these books isn’t a chore, he came back to them willingly in the last month without complaint. He says they are “fun books, not school books!” which I really appreciate because I don’t want to have to push him to read! I love that he gets sucked right into the story, and is still picking up on solid scientific principles and vocabulary along the way.
Bug and I have really enjoyed this series, and I am excited to see what else the author comes up with in the coming years. Right now, the fourth and fifth grade series are the only ones completed, but hopefully there will be many more soon! These books have been a fantastic addition to our library, and in my opinion rank right up there with books like The Magic Treehouse series (only, with a much more developed vocabulary and story line!). Basically, keep your eye out for these books, they’re going to be making waves as the word gets out about them!
Where to get them
Right now, these books are available as paperback and on kindle. If you are already a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, you can read them for free (WHOOP WHOOP!) or they are available for a very reasonable price if you prefer to own them outright (you probably will!).
Enter to Win!
The author has very generously offered one set of readers, either the fourth or fifth grade books to one of my lucky readers. I hope you take a moment to check out his website, and enter using the Raffle Copter form below for your chance to win!