These picture books are truly for all ages. Very young children will enjoy hearing the beautifully written stories, elementary age kids will begin to make connections to the real world, middle school students will find discrete science connections, and high school students can translate difficult concepts to younger children or find inspiration to write their own stories about science.
Author and Illustrator: Paul Montpellier
Publisher: Harbour, 1987
Science Concepts: Geography
When Atlas blows a bubble while thinking about Australia, his rocking chair turns him into a kangaroo and takes him on a ride. Next, he blows a red bubble while thinking about Asia and finds himself at the Great Wall of China. As Atlas blows bubbles of different colors, he explores different environments around the world, traveling to all seven continents. This book is fun and full of adventure. (Reviewed by Maya Manciagli)
"I'll try another bubble," he said, and puffed out his cheeks. The bubble he blew was big and blue. Blue as the sky, and blue as the sea! The bathtub melted away and Atlas was splashing about in the ocean. The walls of the bathroom were gone, the ceiling was gone, overhead the sun was shining in the wide blue sky and all around was water-water-water.
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Author: Judi Barrett
Illustrator: Ron Barrett
Publisher: Aladdin, 1982
Science Concepts: Weather
Grab your galoshes! The fantastic weather report featured in this imaginative story uses weather terms and phrasing that "sound" real. Adults will appreciate the subtle and sophisticated humor hidden throughout the illustrations.
Dinner one night consisted of lamb chops, becoming heavy at times, with occasional ketchup. Periods of peas and baked potatoes were followed by gradual clearing, with a wonderful Jell-O setting in the west.
Come On, Rain!
Author: Karen Hesse
Illustrator: John J. Muth
Publisher: Scholastic Press, 1999
Science Concepts: Weather
Anyone who has suffered through a dry spell will appreciate this story about residents of a city neighborhood hoping and praying for a wet respite from the summer heat. The words strongly evoke all the physical and emotional feelings surrounding the coming of a downpour, fully capturing a child's wonder and joy.
Mamma sinks onto a chair
and sweeps off her hat.
Sweat trickles down her neck
And wets the front of her dress
and under her arms.
Mamma presses the ice-chilled glass against her skin.
The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins
Author: Barbara Kerley
Illustrator: Brian Selznick
Publisher: Scholastic Press, 2001
Science Concepts: Dinosaurs, discovery, technology, history of science
This is the true story of the man who created the first model of a dinosaur, giving the general public a way to visualize what the giant creatures must have looked like. Hawkins' sculptures were exhibited from England to New York. The illustrations are based on Hawkins' sketches; the book contains notes about their accuracy and the author's research.
In the weeks to follow, Waterhouse basked in the glow of the Queen's approval. But he would soon face a much tougher set of critics: England's leading scientists. Waterhouse wanted to be accepted into this circle of eminent men. What would they think of his dinosaurs?
The Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming
Author: Laurie David and Cambria Gordon
Ages: Ages 9-12
Publisher: Scholastic Press, 2007
Science Concepts: Environment, climate change
This new resource for kids and parents treats global warming as a personal problem that we can all help solve. It is entertaining and at the same time provides a great deal of the science behind global warming, its effects and proposed solutions. The authors combine pop culture icons and humor (the first chapter is titled “A Greenhouse Gas is not Caused by an Orchid Grower who Ate Too Many Beans”) in an engaging resource that never forgets the message. Several features set this book apart from others on the subject: information about what states and cities are or are not doing to address the issue; suggestions for changing how schools can make a difference, and careers associated with solving Earth’s climate change problems. This is a highly recommended family resource, printed with soy inks on 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper! Every home should have this book!
Here’s what can happen in your own backyard (or close by) as the globe starts to sizzle and CO2 levels continue to rise. Poison ivy grows larger and becomes itchier. Fall leaves turn a dull color and won’t last as long. Ski seasons get shorter. Allergies are triggered and asthma worsens. Outdoor ice rinks shrink. Disease-carrying ticks and mosquitoes move up in the world. Bark beetle population explodes. Pancakes get drier.
Author: Jean Craighead George
Illustrator: Daniel San Souci
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile, 2002
Science Concepts: Ornithology, habitat, endangered species, migration
This story is related to the "My Side of the Mountain" trilogy by the prolific children's author Jean Craighead George. It tells the story of a peregrine falcon chick named Oksi, befriended by a mountain man after her nest was ransacked by a poacher.
"This is your new home," Sam said to Oksi. "And I am your new mother. Stay in the box, or the owl who lives in that oak will get you." But Oksi did things her own way.
Author: Helen Ketteman
Illustrator: Scott Goto
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers, 2000
Science Concepts: Weather, states of matter
A whimsical story of a heat wave and how it affects life on a farm. There's some real wacky weather going on down on this farm, but all ends well in this delightful tale.
By the time everybody ran outside, the Heat Wave had gotten snagged on the barn's weather vane. It was near harvest time, so we raced to the cornfield to save what we could. But by the time we got there, it was already too late. The corn had started popping.
Inch by Inch
Author: Leo Lionni
Illustrator: Leo Lionni
Publisher: HarperTrophy, 1995
Science Concepts: Measurement, bird life
This cleverly illustrated story introduces young children to the concept of measurement by way of a quick-thinking inchworm. The industrious insect measures himself out of a jam while introducing the reader to a few feathered friends.
"Don't eat me. I am an inchworm. I am useful. I measure things."
"Is that so!" said the robin. "Then measure my tail!"
"That's easy," said the inchworm. "One, two, three, four, five inches."
Into the Sea
Author: Brenda Z. Guiberson
Illustrator: Alix Berenzy
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co, 2000
Science Concepts: Marine biology, oceanography, human influence on nature, camouflage
The life of a sea turtle is filled with danger and adventure. A sea turtle’s survival increases with age, but she is never out of harm’s way. This is a story of a turtle hatchling’s life through the first 20 years and the challenges she faces, from sharks to humans and much in between. The odds are against her from the time she hatches, but she manages to survive. The illustrations in this picture book are beautiful and provide children a great way to see how this turtle lived her life. It is very accurate when compared to the life of a real sea turtle.
The tiny sea turtle is the last hatchling to break out of her leathery egg and crawl up the sides of a sandy nest. She is not much bigger than a bottle cap and would make a good meal for a hungry sea bird or a crab. But at this moment, at dawn, the crabs are resting in muddy burrows and the beach is quiet and empty.
June 29, 1999
Author: David Wiesner
Illustrator: David Wiesner
Publisher: Clarion Books, 1995
Science Concepts: Processes of science, nature of science, botany
A science project is launched into the atmosphere and has exciting consequences. The girl who sends seedlings into space keeps a record of what happens.
TV news channels broadcast twenty-four-hour coverage of the "airborne vegetal event." Cauliflower carpets California, spinach blankets Greenwich and arugula covers Ashtabula.
Holly is puzzled. Arugula is not part of her experiment.
Kitten’s First Full Moon
Author: Kevin Henkes
Illustrator: Kevin Henkes
Publisher: Greenwillow 2004
Science Concepts: Optical illusions, reflection, perspective
This tenderly illustrated picture book tells the tale of a kitten who sees her first full moon and mistakes it for a bowl of milk in the sky. Her futile attempts to reach it end in frustration, exhaustion and, finally, a real bowl of milk and a good nap.
It was Kitten’s first full moon. When she saw it, she thought, there’s a little bowl of milk in the sky. And she wanted it.
Author and Illustrator: Peter Sis
Publisher: Greenwillow Books, 1993
Science Concepts: Herpotology, geography
This is a book about a boy who loves dragons and finally gets to meet one! He flies across the world to an island in Indonesia called Komodo, where the biggest lizard on earth lives, the Komodo dragon. Will he actually get to see a real dragon? This book is filled with adventure and interesting facts. (Reviewed by Maya Manciagli)
I re-read my book on Komodo dragons on the plane. I imagined exactly how it would be. We landed in Bali and did some sightseeing. The next day we took a ship to Komodo. It wasn't at all how I expected it to be. There were so many people waiting for the Dragon show that I couldn't see anything. I told my parents I'd be right back. Suddenly I heard a roar. A Dragon! Then it was gone. Or was it?
Author: Jean Fritz
Illustrator: Hudson Talbott
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile, 2001
Science Concepts: Technology, history of science, science as a human endeavor
This story includes biographical information about Leonardo da Vinci and details of his work. This true tale is about a project started by da Vinci and finished, centuries later, by American Charlie Dent. It was presented to the City of Milan.
For a man who liked to ask questions, Leonardo da Vinci was born at the right time – April 15, 1452. Everybody was asking questions then. The age was called the Renaissance, a time of rebirth when people who had forgotten how to be curious became curious again.
The Librarian Who Measured the Earth
Author: Kathryn Lasky
Illustrator: Kevin Hawkes
Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers, 1994
Science Concepts: Measurement, indirect measurement, science as a human endeavor
This is the story of Eratosthenes, a Greek astronomer and mathematician who used indirect measurement to calculate the circumference of the Earth. Remeasured in the 20th century, his 2,000-year-old calculations were found to be only 200 miles off modern-day figures. The book also deals with discoveries and science done by the ancient Greeks in Athens.
Even as a baby, Eratosthenes was curious and full of wonder. He would crawl across the kitchen floor to follow the path of ants. He wondered why there were beads of water on the cistern in the morning. And in the evening, when he looked out the window of his bedroom, he wondered why the stars stayed in the sky.
Author: Marianne Berkes
Illustrator: Robert Noreika
Publisher: Millbrook Press, 2003
Science Concepts: Ornithology, habitat
The calls of more than a dozen birds are described in this sweet story recounted in verse. Lovely watercolors bring the winged creatures to life, and additional facts on these "characters" are included at the end of this book.
Birds are in communication
Can you hear the syncopation?
Whu, whu, whu, whu, whu
Coo-ah, coo, coo, coo.
Author: John Scieszka
Illustrator: Lane Smith
Publisher: Viking Juvenile, 1995
Science Concepts: Math, measurement
Every part of this book, including the book jacket, the price and the copyright page, is put together using mathematical formulas, symbols and terms. Students will have to look long and hard to find all of the math and science references.
The whole morning is one problem after another. There are 24 kids in my class. I just know someone is going to bring in cupcakes to share. We sit in 4 rows with 6 desks in each row. What if Mrs. Fibonacci rearranges the desks to make 6 rows?
Author: Jannell Cannon
Illustrator: Jannell Cannon
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books, 2004
Science Concepts: Animals, camouflage
A young hyena learns some lessons and dishes out a few of his own in this poignant story set in East Africa. While exploring the emotional terrain of teasing and name-calling, the author introduces a cast of furry and feathered characters that is both entertaining and educational. In an additional section in the back of the book, kids and parents can learn more about the real-live versions of animals depicted in the story.
Pinduli whirled around. A lion! The little hyena poofed her mane and suddenly looked twice her size. She was sure that she was mighty fierce, but Lion just calmly looked her up and down. Then he leaned his old, scarred face nearer and said, "That prickly fringe hardly becomes you, young lady."
The Rainbow Goblins
Author: Ul De Rico
Illustrator: Ul De Rico
Ages: Preschool and up
Publisher: Thames & Hudson, 1994
Science Concepts: Visible spectrum, optics, light and color
A most beautiful book, this will appeal to young children and to adults. The story addresses the colors of the visible spectrum, how a rainbow forms, and why we see the colors red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.
The goblins could hardly contain their excitement. "Soon all the colours of the Rainbow will be ours," Yellow gloated. "We'll snatch it as it rises," said Green, "when the colours are still fresh and creamy." The Blue Goblin cackled, "Look at the roots dangling from the walls. They're straining to hear our plans. A lot of good it will do them, or their friend the Rainbow."
Author: David Wiesner
Illustrator: David Wiesner
Ages: All ages
Publisher: Clarion Books, 1999
Science Concepts: Weather, clouds, state of matter
No words, just pictures painting a thousand words and ideas in this David Wiesner gem, a Caldecott Honor book. Students of all ages can create their own meaning from this cleverly illustrated story about the sky. What is zero visibility? Is there such a thing?
Author: Peter Sis
Illustrator: Peter Sis
Ages: 8 and older
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1996
Science Concepts: Astronomy, history of science, processes of science
This is the story of Galileo, his discoveries and his difficulties when he took an unpopular stand. While weaving in Galileo's own writing, Sis presents the science behind Galileo's greatest discovery. Adults will appreciate the detailed illustrations in this Caldecott Honor book.
Night after night, he gazed through his telescope and wrote down everything he observed. Then he published his observations in a book which he called The Starry Messenger. Galileo was amazed by what he could see with his telescope.
Author: Jannell Cannon
Illustrator: Jannell Cannon
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books, 1993
Science Concepts: Nocturnal animals, adaptation, interdependence of species, food webs and food chains
After getting lost a young bat runs into a wide variety of creatures, learning about adaptation, lifestyle and the different species of bats along the way.
The dark leafy tangle of branches caught Stellaluna as she fell. One twig was small enough for Stellaluna's tiny feet. Wrapping her wings about her, she clutched the thin branch, trembling with cold and fear. "Mother," Stellaluna squeaked. "Where are you?"
The Tiny Seed
Author: Eric Carle
Illustrator: Eric Carle
Publisher: Aladdin, 2001
Science Concepts: Horticulture, seed dispersal, seasons
This story follows the fate of a handful of seeds blown free during a strong autumn wind. Many fall prey to the elements, while others become snacks for hungry critters. The tale, and Eric Carle's colorful collages, will captivate young children, who with every page will be rooting for one special, tiny seed.
Now it is Winter.
After their long trip the seeds settle down. They look just as if they are going to sleep in the earth. Snow falls and covers them like a soft white blanket. A hungry mouse that also lives in the ground eats a seed for his lunch. But the tiny seed lies very still and the mouse does not see it.
Welcome to the River of Grass
Author: Jane Yolen
Illustrator: Laura Regan
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile, 2001
Science Concepts: Ecosystems, interrelationship of species, animal and plant life
Kids will meet numerous denizens of the unique Florida Everglades ecosystem in this picture book. The illustrations communicate the lush feel of the place while portraying animals hunting, traveling and feeding. The interrelationship of the flora and fauna is depicted in the free verse and paintings rich in blues and greens. Grown-ups will find a one-page primer on the Everglades, including suggested Web resources, at the back of the book.
A brief shudder in the water,
Proclaims an otter.
And a tuft-eared bobcat on the prowl,
Makes itself known
With an eerie yoooooowl.
Author: Paul Fleischman
Illustrator: Kevin Hawkes
Publisher: Candlewick, 2002
Science Concepts: Processes of science, botany, horticulture, uses of plants
A young boy creates his own civilization, born from a mysterious crop of oversized plants. Beginning with only a seed, the new civilization is created, products are developed, sports are played, and an alphabet is created.
Suddenly, Wesley's thoughts shot sparks. His eyes blazed. His father was right! He could actually use what he'd learned that week for a summer project that would top all others. He would grow his own staple food crop – and found his own civilization!
Why are the Ice Caps Melting: The Dangers of Global Warming
Author: Anne Rockwell
Illustrator: Paul Meisel
Publisher: Collins, 2006
Science Concepts: Environment, climate, weather
Global warming is scary and hard to comprehend for anyone. Imagine how kids feel as they struggle to absorb the damage happening to the Earth they will soon inherit. Why are the Ice Caps Melting? helps elementary age students grasp the reasons behind and consequences of global warming. Plainly and frankly, it touches on topics such as deforestation, greenhouse effect, rising sea levels, the threat to animals and weather extremes. But the book is hopeful, too, focusing on what children and their families can do to make the kind of choices that will be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
Everything in nature must be in balance – not too much and not too little. The earth needs just the right amount of the greenhouse effect to be warm enough for living things. But if too much greenhouse gas surrounds the earth, the sun’s heat can’t escape. The earth will become too warm.
Author: Chris Van Allsburg
Illustrator: Chris Van Allsburg
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin, 2002
Science Concepts: Astronomy, gravity, polarity, black holes, meteors
A pair of brothers first made famous in Van Allsburg's acclaimed Jumanji is suddenly catapulted into outer space. Together they face a series of challenges, including aliens, malfunctioning robots and (most daunting of all!) sibling rivalry in their efforts to return safely back to Earth.
The boys stared at the doorway as a shiny silver robot stepped into view. He was having trouble walking on the tilted floor. His head rotated back and forth and seemed to freeze on Walter. The robot's eyes lit up and he spoke in an odd mechanical voice: "Emergency, emergency, alien life form. Must destroy."
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