“Iguanas’ eyes can move in all directions,” a boy in my class announced when he arrived on a recent Monday. “Iguanas have three eyes: two on the sides of their heads and a third on top,” his mother clarified. Many in the class seemed interested in this fact, so we pulled out the library book that contained this fact and read about green iguanas. We read about their eyesight, their diet, how they like to live, where they like to live, how they protect themselves, and what life is like for them as babies. The book contained lots of information and detailed photographs about green iguanas. The children enjoyed looking at the photographs and learning new facts together.

This type of nonfiction book that features a specific animal is a wonderful resource when introducing children to animals in nature. The combination of text, photography, and photo captions breaks information down into manageable and accessible pieces. Children love to know and share animal facts, as was demonstrated by the 5-year-old who arrived in class making announcements about iguanas before he had his coat off. Talk with your kids about animals that interest them, then head to your local library and together discover more about that animal. Have fun!

Here are some of the facts the class learned about green iguanas:

  • They are good climbers.
  • Full-grown iguanas are 3 feet or longer.
  • They can fall from 40-50 feet above the ground without getting hurt.
  • They are cold-blooded and like the temperature to be between 95°F and 98°F.
  • They are active during the day and sleep at night.
  • They are usually herbivores. Sometimes young iguanas eat insects.
  • They like to eat young, fresh leaves and perfectly ripe fruit.
  • They are solitary animals and mark their territory by leaving behind scent trails on leaves.
  • They lay 10-70 eggs at a time in a long deep hole.
  • In parts of Central and South America, people eat green iguana eggs. They say the eggs taste like cheese.
  • They have excellent eyesight, with two main eyes and a third eye on the top of their head.
  • The third eye can’t see clearly. It can detect differences between light and dark, which is helpful to detect something moving above it, such as a hawk.
  • They grow new teeth all the time and have 80-120 teeth.

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