Why are blood and guts, gross out humor, and enormous spiders so endlessly fascinating? Because they’re cool, that’s why. And the idea of pursuing your curiosity despite it being taboo or displeasing to adults is empowering.
As students gain knowledge about the gross and weird, they proudly think, “‘Listen to me. I know what adults know too, and I am brave enough to speak of the unspeakable!’ They are pushing the edges of their knowledge as they push the edges of acceptability,” according to Jobe and Dayton-Sakari (73).
Students feel empowered as they build a special knowledge base through narrow reading. When possible, encourage students to find a single subject to read narrowly on (yes, even if that subject is the later stages of digestion).
Single-Topic Gross-Out Books
- Gross-Out Animals That Do Disguisting Things by Ginjer Clarke
- Bugopedia by Discovery Kids
- That’s Disgusting series by Connie Colwell Miller
- Poop: a Natural History of the Unmentionable by Nicola Davies
- Sanitation Investigation Series by Capstone
- Icky, Sticky Gross Stuff series by Pam Rosenberg (warning, the Icky, Sticky, Gross Stuff in Your Food book is in fact quite gross)
- Real Scary Spiders by Animal Planet
*The following books jump from subject to subject. They don’t have the same effect as true narrow reading in a content area, however, they allow students to browse until they find exactly what they are interested in reading.
- Grossology by Sylvia Branzei
- Almanac of the Gross Disgusting and Totally Repulsive by Eric Elfman*
- National Geographic’s Ultimate Weird but True series*
- The “Guiness Book of World Records” series*
- Oh, Yikes! History’s Grosses Moments by Joy Masoff
Free Voluntary Websurfing:
- http://www.grossology.org/ Miscellaneous Gross Facts
- http://www.batcon.org/ All About Bats
- http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/explore/adventure_pass/weird-but-true/ National Geographic’s Weird But True KnowledgeBase
- http://easyscienceforkids.com/ Gross Science for Kids
Jobe, R. & Dayton-Sakari, M. (2002). Info-Kids: How to use nonfiction to turn reluctant readers into enthusiastic learners. Ontario, Canada: Pembroke.