Did you know that a dung beetle eats dung? Ewww!
Did you know they roll it into a ball with their legs, and roll it through underground tunnels, to save for a snack later, and to lay their eggs on so the newly hatched larvae have their first meal waiting for them? Ewww!
Did you also know that if you buy 5 yards of knit t-shirt fabric, it comes on a bolt in a tube that a child can crawl through? And, did you know that if you tell a 5-year old Transitional Kindergartener that they can pretend to be a dung beetle and imagine that an inflatable beach ball is a ball of dung, and they can push it through a knit fabric tube that is like an underground tunnel, they will almost burst with delight?
This book has The Ewww Factor, without overdoing it. This is an important distinction to note, because it can mean the difference between keeping the group focused on the story and dissolving into who-can-be-grosser side conversations.
I subscribe to a wonderful monthly book review and delivery service, Junior Library Guild. Books are sent based on the criteria I set up, such as humor, sports, non-fiction, fiction, biography, etc., and also the grade level desired. Their vetting process is impressive. I can be assured that every book they send is top-notch, and I don’t have to spend hours-that-I-don’t-have researching books to order. Many of the books they choose end up being Caldecott and Newberry winners. I have the option to view the titles and descriptions of upcoming books, and make swaps if I choose. Frequently I do, depending on whether I think a book will circulate well within my school’s population, or if there is a particular book I’d prefer to have from their selection.
Somehow, this one slipped by me, and when the book, Behold the Beautiful Dung Beetle, arrived in my monthly shipment, I made a mental note to be more on top of previewing all the selections in the future.
With a heavy sigh, I reluctantly previewed it as I prepared it to be shelf-ready, and discovered it is marvelously illustrated, and goes into great detail on a topic that is near and dear to every elementary schooler’s heart: dung. Well, they didn’t actually call it “dung” until I read the book to them, but they do now!
Oh my goodness, this was The Most Fun Story Time of the Entire Year. How do I know this? The TK’s told me so! They were each able to go through the tunnel at least twice, some forward, some backward, always emerging laughing and rushing back to the line to go again.
In the 30-minute time slot, I had time to read two other books on tunnels, before we read about dung beetles tunneling, which segued nicely into the activity.
The Head Children’s Librarian at the public library has asked me to reprise this storytime there as well, repackaged slightly as The Scoop on Scat. I will be adding content when I host it, to fill the longer time period of an hour. Watch this blog for a future update on the fun activities I’m going to add. Hint: I bought a bag of tootsie rolls to experiment with.