How to Raise Monarch Butterflies by Carol Pasternak

Lynn: I SO needed this book a few years ago when the focus group and I embarked on our first monarch hatching!  We muddled through and have watched many many caterpillars turn dutifully into butterflies and fly away but there’s nothing like the joy of an instructional guide.  Even though we’re veterans now, we love How to Raise Monarch Butterflies:  A Step-by-Step Guide for Kids (Firefly 2012) and the focus group has almost memorized the pages.

This is one of those “Nana – did you know books” and I have to say that even after raising two nature-mad sons and caring for 3 grandsons, there is a LOT I didn’t know.  For example, did you know there is a way to determine the gender of a monarch by looking at the pupa or that you can re-attach a fallen chrysalis using dental floss and glue?  Cool!  Or did you know that you can wrap extra milkweed leaves in damp paper towels and store them in the refrigerator for 2 days!  That would have saved a lot of trips to the farmer’s field!

But I digress in my enthusiasm.  After a nicely done introduction and a pair of clear anatomy pages, the book takes readers through a very detailed explanation of how to raise monarch butterflies including the equipment needed, how to find and care for the caterpillars and the chyrsalis and how to successfully release the emerged butterflies.   Each step is clearly described and is accompanied by close-up and very helpful photographs.  There is even a section on how to find the tiny eggs, collect and hatch the caterpillars for the truly dedicated.  The text is very kid-appropriate but never condescending, carefully using accurate terminology – something young scientists will appreciate.

Pasternak concludes with a what-happens next look at the life of the adults butterfly including predators, the story of their incredible migration and information on how to help butterflies thrive.  An excellent page of additional resources is included along with a glossary and discussion questions.

Trust me – this is one of those books that belongs in every school and public library.  Order it and read it now – you won’t see much of it after the kids discover it!

Visit this week’s Nonfiction Monday host, Wendie’s Wanderings for other great nonfiction suggestions.




About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

3 Comments on "How to Raise Monarch Butterflies by Carol Pasternak"

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  1.' ed Spicer says:

    Just ordered a copy (from Bookbug in Kalamazoo). Perfect for our first grade science unit (in which we raise Monarch butterflies)!

  2. Cindy Dobrez says:

    Ed, you won’t regret it. I’ve seen the book and it is stunning, and oh-so-helpful. I left the reading of this one to the experts but I hope every elementary school orders it for sure. Even middle school nature enthusiasts will appreciate its merits.

    • This will be perfect for your unit! The photographs are wonderful and will help the beginning readers. We loved the respectful tone and the use of the accurate terminology too. And the directions are excellent! Great helpful tips too. Maybe you should have ordered two 😉 The boys and I have raised lots of butterflies but we learned so much with this book – and saved on some bike trips to gather milkweed leaves too! – Lynn

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