Every home should have books lying around the house begging to be opened, reviewed and read. These types of books should be non-fiction and should be filled with pictures. Children - and adults - will gravitate to these kinds of books and learn from them.  A new series from DK Publishers is just out and these are the perfect books to lay on your kitchen table, bathroom linen rack or bedroom end table. All four of these new editions are smaller than a regular-sized book so they are easy to handle and would be perfect in a car as well.

"The Ultimate Visual Dictionary" is probably my favorite of the bunch because it covers everything imaginable - and beyond. It is full of all kinds of information, much like a regular dictionary, but it displays the information not only in a written text, but with vibrant illustrations. The reader will understand what the technical jargon means because it is diagrammed and displayed with arrows pointing specifically to the targeted areas. For instance, in the sea and air section of the book, you will read through the complete progression of ships and airplanes. There's a description of an 18th century sailing ship that explains this type of ship that was used primarily by North European countries competing with one another. You might recognize these ships as they were called "men-of-war".  The book explains how sails were used and how the number of guns on a ship determined how the ship would be rated. This long, informative paragraph fills the upper left hand corner of two pages. The rest of these pages are filled with pictures and diagrams of this ship from four different viewpoints. Each view is diagrammed with labels pointing to specific parts of the ship. Anyone who has any interest and questions about what this ship looked like or what parts of the ship were called, will easily learn from these incredible illustrations. There is even a page describing and demonstrating ropes and knots (a great book for Scouts).  Also, the book is formatted so each page has the information located in the same place and the illustrations that follow fill up the opened two pages so they become like one large page.

"The Visual Encyclopedia of Animals" is divided into seven sections of the animal kingdom and follows the same general format as the "The Ultimate Visual Dictionary".  The information is located in the upper left hand corner, leaving the rest of the opened two pages filled with pictures and descriptions. For example, the reptile section begins with explaining what a reptile is and has wonderful illustrations on these two pages helping the reader understand these animals. There is even an incredible illustration of how the crocodile has three eyelids. And if you still are not quite sure what a reptile is, on the next several pages, the book takes you through prehistoric reptiles, their scaly skin, what makes them cold-blooded, their senses, (this was really interesting!), and even a description of how they move. (Ever wondered how a snake moves?).  If you have any doubt about what a reptile is, you won't have any after reading this section of this magnificent book.

The two other books in the series are the "The Visual Encyclopedia of Science", which is divided into four sections: chemical and physical science, the earth around us, the universe, and the natural world and the "The Human Body" which has two sections: human anatomy and common disorders and diseases. Additionally, there is a glossary at the back of this book describing many medical terms.

If there was ever a series of books to open a child's mind to the wonders that surround us, these books hit the mark right on the bull's eye!  And, they are well suited for any age. You don't have to be particularly interested in a specific subject to enjoy looking at, and learning from, these varied subjects. These books will open your mind and fill it with a curiosity and a yearning to learn more. You and your child will enjoy just looking, discussing and learning about all that is around us. And who knows? Perhaps one of these unknown subjects could lead to a future occupation.

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