Picture books are the best way to learn science: reading list

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I’m not primarily a visual learner, and the picture books and visual rhetoric classes I took during my master’s were the toughest classes I’ve ever taken in my life – I took a neuroscience class during my undergrad! (It’s disappointingly different from Oliver Sacks’ book.) But with four elementary students and a graduate assistant teaching children’s literature, it was important to keep me up-to-date with the picture book world.

As I spend more and more time getting to know contemporary illustrators and writers, one of the things I’ve learned is that my favorite type of picture book is non-fiction, and in particular, I prefer to learn about science through picture books, while Not through any other book medium. I’m not talking about the kind of book you’d find in a classroom so you can write reports on animals, but a well-researched literary manuscript that allows me to engage on an intellectual and aesthetic level.

children Love science.One of the few highlights of this pandemic is all the extra time I spend with my twin nephews, very smart little boys who I say with complete seriousness rather than precious sincerity, taught me a Ton Interesting things this year. Zoom Kindergarten needed a village to fill, and reading science picture books with them was a treat for all three of us – and the rest of the family, who now know about bugs, space, chameleons, Madagascar’s A TON, inches with centimeters etc.

As much as I grew up loving science, what kept me from pursuing it as a college major or career was the way it was traditionally taught in the US: micro first, macro second; as if you weren’t allowed to learn how big things work , unless you can chart a cell and name each part of it. If I start with the point of “this little guy talks to another little guy and sends a neural message to a third little guy” point of view, then learn the details. If I could understand the general flow of things, I’d be more interested in the technical bits (and would have a better grasp). Others are born to learn the other way, I’m a little jealous of you! However, if your mind is as narrative-driven as I am, then you might be drawn to these spectacular works of scientific art that are absolutely dazzling and require no age limit. Thankfully, we’re in an age where technology has given us illustrated scans of amazing quality, but if you have access to a printed book through a store or library, you won’t regret choosing it.

Note: I’m specifically targeting expository nonfiction here, so you won’t see biographies of famous (or underappreciated) scientists here, nor fiction about kids doing science. That This is an area where picture books really excel, and there really is a big difference in who is covered and who is highlighted. But for now, I’m focusing on science, not scientists.

Islands: A Galapagos Story by Jason Chin

Absolutely everything Jason Chin does is a masterpiece, but if you asked me to pick just one I would probably pick this book about the Galapagos Islands, their relationship with Charles Darwin is probably about their most Not fun stuff (although fun). In this book, Galapagos is a living, breathing character, but not in an endearing way—actually, it’s a pretty good branding slogan for Chin: put his The themes are presented as living, breathing characters, but never in an endearing way. Literally, we know it from the dawn of time and understand how it developed as a piece of land, and how all the flora and fauna on it work together to thrive. Chin’s books are almost always vertical, which makes you feel completely part of the action. All you have to do is slide a door open and there you are.

if the shark disappeared

If Sharks Gone Lily Williams

The shark movie is my absolute jam, although I somehow never watched it jaw (? I know).Heartfelt, emotional performances or ridiculous premise on an eight figure budget are great, but I also totally love bad performances, some of which are so bad that they make Shark Cyclone It looks like an Oscar. Before reading this book, however, I had never really thought about what this metaphor would mean for real fish who just want to live their lives. We are so gleefully addicted to the thrill of these biological traits, but sometimes it manifests in animal violence, overfishing, habitat destruction, and more.While “cute” isn’t my favorite point of view, the cute (but not saccharine) illustrations actually work well here, as they help ease kids’ unfounded fears of the multitude of shark species that There isn’t actually much danger to us (although there are certainly some Yes). Also, your kids going through this learning journey are brown for no other reason than that some kids are brown, which is always a benefit, especially in STEM, where we still see more than any other demographic represents There are far more white boys.

The Bee by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann

Honestly, it almost feels like it’s not worth mentioning here because I know It’s got all the award buzz, I don’t like being in a rut, but this compelling project is by a husband-and-wife powerhouse team known for their independently-created work (e.g. The Romanoffs: The Murder of Fleming, Rebellion and the Fall of the Russian Empire and Roman’s Rabbit Friends) are too amazing to share.like If the shark disappears, The subject of this book is a much-maligned creature now in grave danger – the bee.The last time I learned so much about the insects that really saved the world from dying was an episode Magic School Bus, and this one is definitely more real than watching Arnold dance. Did you know that not only do bees play roles in the hive (as I thought), but they actually play all roles? They are promoted like workers in a utopian capitalist meritocracy. Our main character, Apis (meaning “bee”, but don’t tell my nephew – we had to name the other bees around her so she would stand out) started life and spent many days – many pages – trying to keep The hive left before she could fly.Fleming’s text is informative but lyrical, Roman’s art is almost realistic, and the pages are filled with rich color and ample bleed to make you feel a little like you did Hop on Ms Frizzle’s bus, downsize, and visit a real beehive.

The cover of Ball's Star gadgets

Stuff of the Stars by Marion Dane Bauer and Ekua Holmes

Immediately after reading this book in one of my graduate courses, I commented: “It’s a poem! In a picture book! With marble illustrations! About the Big Bang!!!!” I still feel the same way ! ! ! Two years later. You can almost smell the paint on every page. Fear it in English class: Poetry. The Big Bang Theory is a difficult topic to master, but wrapping it up this way is a great start. Who knew you could combine poetry with science?

no-monkeys-no-chocolate by Melissa Stewart

“No Monkeys, No Chocolate” by Melissa Stewart, Alan Young and Nicole Wang

If you could look back at some of the outdated puns and jokes in this book (remember the iPod?), you’d learn a lot about the cocoa tree’s life cycle, the microhabitat, and the evil creatures that must live and die in it in order to give us What we love – chocolate! Each page gives you information about another creature or event necessary for the growth of the cacao tree, and each page also traces back to previous creatures or events because, you know, the cycle of life and more. I read it for the science; kids will read it for the science and may like the extra rough sections like how maggots eat the brains of ants from the inside to keep the ants from killing the cacao tree and just… put up with the book, Because it takes a while to get to the monkeys, but there are plenty of other creatures doing their part along the way.

Swirl by Swirl: The Natural Spiral by Joyce Sidman and Beth Krommes

When people talk about math in nature, if you want to sound like you know what you’re talking about, I know the correct response is “Fibonacci!” I know what the Fibonacci sequence is Yes (if it’s been a minute in math class, the sequence starts at 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 – each number comes from adding the two preceding numbers), but I don’t really know how It works in nature. Now I know, thanks to the glossary at the back of the book, which itself is an alternate, understated poem and stunning draft illustrations. As with any good nature book, the illustrations are labeled (ram horns, nautilus, spider monkeys, etc.), but they’re not intrusive, so you can enjoy art, poetry, and science in any combination.

Michelle Lord and Julia Blattman The Chaos We Caused

Come on, for the curse of plastic waste and ocean health, stay and accept “This is the house Jack built!” Not that I don’t know plastic is bad for the planet, but this book explains plastic in a big way how Behind it, is a repetitive, rhythmic poem that, to be honest, I didn’t even realize it was “The House Jack Built” and only wrote a few stanzas. This is a very genius idea because it clearly shows that plastic pollution is not an isolated event, but almost an ecosystem of its own – turtles see plastic bags and think they are jellyfish; seals eat and keep eating Fish with microplastics; seals caught by boats that cause pollution from leaking landfills… Lest you think it’s all bad news, poetry has changed, and we’re periodically looking at what we can do Easy way to solve this problem with actions big and small.The latter is explained further, but unlike many science picture books that keep all explanations in the bulk of the text that follows, this one manages to explain and Instantly becomes a work of literature.The illustrations are also beautiful, with a clever blend of plastic Enter Ocean, so you can identify it as plastic by its shape, but also see how it can easily confuse marine animals, you know, these marine animals don’t have a frame of reference like “goal running.”

My Tata Remedy / Los Remedios de mi Tata, Roni Capin Rivera-Ashford and Antonio Castro L.

this is technically Fiction, but fiction is really just a tool for contextualizing science, so it fits the task of my book.I love having kids in the family or community with a therapist and the kids will feel very familiar​​​ or For adults who don’t know, this is a good reminder that medicines come first from nature, not factories. A young boy spends the day with his grandfather watching community members come to him with familiar ailments like headaches, bee stings, diaper rash and burns. As Tata’s assistant, little Aaron was responsible for running to the garden or to his grandfather’s storeroom of ready-made tinctures, dried herbs and more. You might think the moral of the story is “who needs Neosporin when they have a pharmacist”, but that’s not the case. Read this book next time you have a health problem that doesn’t require a hospital! If you read the ingredient list on the over-the-counter cream, gel, or pill you’re taking, chances are its active ingredient is something Tata pulled from his garden, such as arnica, aloe, or elderberry. Just like the story, the background content in English and Spanish serves as a nature guide and explains in more detail how the plants in your backyard can be the basis for the many pots and tubes in your medicine cabinet.I’m not saying I or this book is a good alternative medicine specialist, but I Yes That said, this book is a useful field guide for pain you’re treating yourself.

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