Most of us have experienced being asked constant questions by a toddler or preschooler. Their questions are often so good, that we become frustrated because we’re not sure how to answer them.
This is where children’s books about science and nature come in. Books can help answer children’s questions and may even generate more. Children’s books about science and nature can also encourage exploration and curiosity. How wonderful to model using books to research challenging problems or to spur on an attitude of inquiry.
This issue’s Books of Excellence are rich in their text and their illustrations. “Peck, Peck, Peck,” the infant-toddler selection, is a delightful story of a daddy woodpecker teaching his young woodpecker to peck. The young woodpecker enthusiastically embraces his new role as he pecks everything in sight.
“The Night Gardener,” the preschool selection, tells the story of a boy who awakens each morning to find a new tree cut into an elaborate topiary. Through amazing drawings, the story captivates he listener who is drawn in to this beautiful book.
“A Nest is Noisy” is the school-age selection. Beautiful and elaborate illustrations combine with text which is part of the artwork as well. Reading this book will make nests seem like the most compelling objects to explore in a long time.
These three wonderful books give us a small peek into the ways science and nature can be introduced through children’s literature.
By Linda C. Whitehead, Ph.D., Senior Advisor, Education and Development
BOOKS OF EXCELLENCE
Peck, Peck, Peck, written and illustrated by Lucy Cousins, Infant/Toddler: One day, daddy woodpecker decides his son is ready to learn to how to peck. He shows his son how to peck a tree and encourages him to do the same. Upon receiving his father’s praise, the little woodpecker decides to practice on his own. He finds that he loves to peck so much that he just can’t stop. Even though the young woodpecker gets a little carried away, his father’s unconditional love shines through to the very last page. Infants and toddlers will truly enjoy sticking their fingers into the holes the woodpeckers make throughout the book.
The Night Gardener, written and illustrated by Terry Fan and Eric Fan, Preschool: William looks out his window one morning to see much hubbub below. As he races outside, he is stopped by the most wondrous site. The tree has been turned into a wise owl. So begins the story of how a poor town is transformed. This beautifully illustrated book will captivate all who want to find out who and what is reshaping the trees and the town.
The Lorax, written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss, Preschool: “The Lorax” is an environmental book that was before its time. It is about a forest of Truffula trees that were cut down to make useless objects. Children are introduced to concepts of conservation and care for the environment.
Daisy-Head Mayzie, written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss, Preschool: “Daisy-Head Mayzie”, in classic Seuss-style, is about a girl with a daisy growing out of her head. It touches on themes of real and unreal; growing and not growing, and accepting differences.
A Nest is Noisy, written by Dianna Hutts Aston; illustrated by Sylvia Long, School-Age: An exploration of all types of nests, this book offers a look at some of the small and large, spiky and papery, hidden or neighborly nests that exist in the world. Children of all ages will enjoy the soft yet realistic illustrations that entertain and teach about the wonderful world of nests.
NOTABLE CHILDREN'S BOOKS
I Spy on the Farm, written and illustrated by Edward Gibbs, Infant & Toddler: There are so many colorful and noisy animals to discover while on the farm! Children will love the spy hole and guessing what it shows on the next page.
In My Garden, written by: Kyla Ryman; illustrated by Nathalie Trovato, Infant & Toddler: Trovato’s cut paper illustrations will capture children’s interest as they explore a garden full of expected and unexpected treasures.
How Much Does a Ladybug Weigh?, written and illustrated by Alison Limentani, Preschool: Children will love counting along with this boldly illustrated picture book. How many grasshoppers weigh the same as one stickleback fish? They will learn about the relative weights of various animals and how they compare.
Toshi’s Little Treasures, written by: Nadine Robert; illustrated by Aki, Preschool: Toshi’s grandma gives him a new backpack to carry his treasures they find on their walks together. Each place they visit has fun treasures to find and identify. Everyone will enjoy locating, identifying, and matching Toshi’s treasures page after page.
The Big Book of Bugs, written and illustrated by Yuval Zommer, Preschool: What child isn’t fascinated by bugs? Children will love this book that is crawling with different types of bugs from bees to flies to spiders and beetles. Younger children will enjoy the pictures, while young school agers may use it as a beginning reference book.
Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea: Marie Tharp Maps the Ocean Floor, written by Robert Burleigh; illustrated by Raúl Colón, School-Age: This beautifully illustrated book tells the story of Marie Tharp, a female scientist who was the first person to successfully map the ocean floor. Not only is it a lesson in science and history, but a positive story with a female role model.