Living Color

Written By: Steve Jenkins 

Before Reading

Explore Illustrations and Text:

Give your child a moment to flip through and take in the vibrant illustrations in this book before you begin reading. Ask questions like these to preface the information s/he will learn about the animal kingdom:

What do you notice in these illustrations?

Do you know what the words “predator” and “prey” mean?

{Flip to any page} Can you name some of the animals that you see on this page?

Briefly discuss the concept of evolution with your child by saying, “All of these animals (even humans too) have evolved, or changed, over time so that they attract mates and can protect themselves from predators. Predators are other animals that are trying to hunt them (the prey). An animal’s color can be very important for its survival. Let’s find out why that is.”

As You Read

If your child is curious to learn more about any of the animals as you’re reading, there is an appendix in the back of the book with more information on each animal that you can refer to. As you read about each color, ask your child to think about more animals or things in nature that are a similar color. After you have read about the green animals, ask your child, “Can you think of other things in nature that are green?” Some examples may include leaves, frogs, grass, etc.

Help your child think of other animals that use color to attract mates or deter predators. Ask, “Do you know why peacocks have such colorful feathers {Find a picture on the internet for reference, if need be}? They use their feathers to attract the female peacocks (peahens), fanning out their huge feathers to show off.”  

Vocabulary Building:

Encourage your child to pause when s/he comes across a new word. Let him/her discover its meaning using the illustrations and the words surrounding it. Examples of new words in Living Color may include:




After Reading

Summarize and Interpret:

Help get your child in the habit of asking questions and thinking about books once they are through. Ask questions like these to demonstrate good reading behavior.

What was your favorite part of this book? Why?

How does an animal’s color help it survive?

Can you name an animal that we read about and how its color is important?

Not only is an animal’s color important, but its sense of sight is also very important. Check out this site to learn a bit more about how certain animals see.

Activity: Your Own Living Color book and Visit a Zoo/Aquarium  

1. Your Own “Living Color” book

Adapted from HMH books

Supplies: Paper, crayons/colored pencils/markers, a stapler, and the internet

Compile your own list of different colored animals and create your own book!

Have your child choose at least one animal for each color and draw each animal in its natural habitat on separate pages. Use the internet to research each animal and discover where it lives and why it is that certain color. On the green page, you can choose to draw a green turtle. You can learn from this site that this species of turtle is named for the layer of green-tinged fat separating its organs from the inner side of the shell.

Create a cover page with each animal on it and give it a title. Then staple the pages together.

2. Visit a Zoo/ Aquarium

If its been awhile since your last visit to a zoo/aquarium or you’ve just been inspired by this book, make time to head on over and check out the different species of animals that they have to offer! Bring along this book as well and refer to it as your go along!