As a retired science teacher of 33 years, I want to share my love of science with my grandchildren, and children everywhere. Find reviews of noteworthy K--8 children's science trade books, reviews of activity books for parents, teachers, and grandparents, NGSS info, and fun activities.
It was the summer before I started college. It was very late at night, and my parents gave up and went to bed after the initial Moon landing, but I wanted to see the entire thing!! It was dark and quiet in our house when Commander Neil Armstrong announced, “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” as he stepped off the lander’s footpad onto the lunar surface.
I remember our elementary teachers bringing in the TV so we could watch every mission from the 1st Mercury mission, the many Gemini launches, until this moment when Apollo 11 successfully landed man on the moon!! What an incredible accomplishment! The spin-off technology alone affects everyone to this day (LED’s, ear thermometers, firefighter gear, and Tang, just to name a few)!
That’s why I was so enthralled with THE FIRST MEN WHO WENT TO THE MOON! Rhonda Gowler Green provides children with a great introduction to the history of the space program and commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing. (Gee, I feel old!) I love the way Rhonda acquaints her audience with each aspect of the Apollo 11 mission, and ties them together at the end. The factual bullets further explain some of the terms used, and more about the mission, adding appeal for older readers. I’m sure my grandchildren will love this one!
Scott Brundage really captured the images I remember from the Apollo 11 mission, but much better, as they are in beautiful color! His drawings bring this momentous event to life. I know this book is advertised for children age 6—9, but I think younger children would certainly be enthralled with the illustrations, as would older children through adult!
If you wish to celebrate the Moon Landing, and inspire another generation of space travelers, this book will be available from Sleeping Bear Press , Amazon (You can pre-order.), and Barnes & Noble (You can pre-order here, too).
Greene, Rhonda Gowler, and Scott Brundage. The First Men Who Went to the Moon. Sleeping Bear Press, 2019.
Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool.
I just recently discovered a marvelous book by a then 11-year-old girl, Olivia Bouler. She created this wonder in response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the largest marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. The effect on the marine life (including birds) was devastating.
What can just one person do to help? Olivia showed us all by single-handedly raising over $150,000 for Gulf Oil Spill recovery efforts. First, she sent donors one of her own bird paintings. Then she wrote and illustrated this book, including easy-to-do suggestions for how anyone can help the environment.
This unique field guide to backyard, aquatic, and endangered birds discusses how to observe birds, something about each bird, identifying backyard birds, unusual birds, fierce birds, and bird development, with a special page about saving the Gulf. The age range is listed as 3—9, but I think any age would benefit from reading this masterpiece.
Her amazing drawings capture the essence of each bird, and her research is spot on. Three cheers for Olivia!! Her book is not only informative, but inspiring. It illustrates the fact that each of us can do something to make our planet a better place. So don’t just sit there reading—get busy!!
Is your 8—12 year old fascinated with the Eiffel Tower? My granddaughter is. She has Eiffel Tower t-shirts, an Eiffel Tower lamp, and someday aspires to visit Paris, see the Eiffel Tower, and eat macaroons. This text does not address macaroons, but Janet Slingerland does provide quite a bit of interesting information about The Iron Lady (I didn’t know it was called that), Gustave Eiffel, and how the landmark was engineered.
The World’s Fair of 1889 celebrating the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution prompted a competition to design a tower to represent French culture. The more than 100 entries yielded two main competitors, Gustave Eiffel with his iron vision, and the classic stone structure of Jules Bordais. Guess who won?
There are so many features of the tower that I never knew existed (and I’ve been there!). The tower was planned in the 1880’s to be the tallest structure at that time. The triangular shape was designed to reduce the effect of wind. A team of 50 engineers and designers worked on the plans for the tower for three years! It needed to be easy to dismantle, as it was supposed to be taken down after 20 years!
But it is still here today. How did that happen? Saving the tower highlights more of Eiffel’s genius. He thought that if it proved useful to science, he might be able to extend the tower’s life. He created a laboratory on the tower to measure air pressure and wind. He observed how falling objects interacted with the wind as they fell. He also built a wind tunnel at the base of the tower, carried out more than 5000 experiments there, and wrote a book about it in 1913 (The Resistance of Air and Aviation). Utilizing the tower’s height for telegraph wireless communication proved useful for the military, keeping the tower open for another 70 years. You must read the book to find out more!
You will find this book, part of the BUILDING BY DESIGN series from Abdo Publishing at their website in library binding ( , and from Amazon in paperback and library binding. So grab a macaroon and have a good read!
Slingerland, Janet. Engineering by the Eiffel Tower. Abdo Publishing, 2018.
There is so much for your 5—10 year-old to like about the chapter book, ADA LACE: ON THE CASE! Poor Ada has just moved to a new city, and has a broken ankle, too! Plus, her mother goes out of town, and she will be starting the third grade in a week. Reminiscent of the Alfred Hitchcock movie, “Rear Window,” Ada entertains herself by making observations of her apartment’s courtyard. True to Hitchcock, a lovely mystery unfolds.
As a science teacher, I love that Ada keeps a “field guide” of her observations. Note-booking is an essential skill for young scientists! I also like the discussion of an urban ecosystem, the interactions of the people, birds, squirrels, pets, and plants!
Ada makes a new friend, who views the world a bit differently than Ada does. This book would be a great conversation starter about observations, inferences, and opinions, as well as friendship! I would especially like to use this book to initiate a discussion about evidence!
Renée Kurilla’s illustrations add to the charm of the book and help to hold a child’s attention. I’m sure if you have a young scientist they will want to read all five of the Ada Lace books.
For the child that wants to know more, there is back matter that explains in more detail some of the scientific terms used in the story, such as drones, ecosystem, and gecko gloves (I don’t want to spoil it!).
My only disappointment is that I did not see an alignment to the NGSS. Of course a parent or teacher can always use these books where they fit the best: for the child to read just for fun, as an introduction to a unit, or as a supplementary reading (or as an example of how to write a field guide!).
My oldest Muse, now eight years old, loves the books, and says she would recommend them highly! “They are good, Nana!” (She is not the talkative one!)