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Science should be exciting for young people, giving them skills and opportunities to improve their futures. Here are a selection of books we love, books we think will inspire every child to become more interested in Science.
Information book and poem both, Swim, Shark, Swim takes readers on a journey through the world’s oceans in the company of a blacktip reef shark. It begins in the waters off western Australia, where the shark, ‘This reef-watcher, jewel-guarder’, is urged to ‘swim, Shark, SWIM!’ to avoid a net. Through a tunnel of bubbles and light he speeds away through his saltwater world, and as readers travel with him, they too are plunged into the different seas, encountering a variety of sharks – tiger sharks, white tips, a tunnel-mouthed basking shark in ‘cathedral-cold waters’, a great white, ‘slicing wolf-eels from forests of kelp/ like the sea’s ancient spear.’ The language is beautiful and the images are too, both capturing all the quiet of the deep oceans and the power of the sharks that glide through them. As they read, children will discover so much about sharks and come to understand why it is so important that we protect them. A page of Shark Facts at the end provides further information for the curious. An inspiring and very special book.
Imbued with infectious personal passion as it shares expert information and plenty of practical guidance, Vicki Hird’s Rebugging the Planet is a brilliant book for bug-lovers of all ages and, given bugs’ vital importance to the upkeep and well-being of Planet Earth (let’s pause for a moment to acknowledge the fact that bees contribute more to the UK economy than the Queen), it deserves to be enjoyed and implemented far and wide - at home, and in classrooms too. In fact, this is perfect for reading and implementing during longer holidays from school, or over the course of a term, especially chapter four which presents an extensive range of how-to ideas for re-bugging your own patch of the world. But back to the beginning. The book sets out its inspirational stall in the opening chapters by explaining all the vital things bugs do for us, among them pollinating plants, feeding birds, feeding humans, defending our food crops, cleaning our water, controlling pests, and healing us. Maggots, for example, can remove (munch) and disinfect rotting flesh, leeches can stop clots, and the honey made by bees has anti-inflammatory properties. To play a role in the author’s re-bugging initiative, readers might find themselves inspired to build a bug palace, buy bug-friendly food from bug-buddy farmers, and much more. This is packed with plenty of ways to live a bug-better life, which in turn means living on a better planet.
Bouncing with energy and full of fascinating facts, Meet Matilda Rocket Builder is an ingenious blend of comic character-driven story and in-depth exposition of big scientific subjects. Brilliantly brought to life through Heidi Cannon’s doodle-style illustrations - the perfect partner to Dom Conlon’s smart stream-of-consciousness text - ten-year-old Matilda’s enthusiasm and ambition knows no bounds - she has “BRAINS! And I’m determined to use them.” Sagely, Matilda has observed that “we don’t encourage each other often enough...We’re just not used to saying ‘you can do this’ anymore.” With that at the forefront of her busy mind, Matilda is determined to build a spaceship and make it to the moon. The humour (or should that be poo-mour..?) is spot-on, and always totally relevant. For example, Matilda’s detailed explanation of gravity is reached via a lengthy discussion of the weight of her poo. Other topics covered include air pressure, escape velocities and coding. Though perfect for confirmed science and space buffs, this also comes (especially) recommended for young readers who haven’t yet found that all-important spark to ignite their interest in science - Matilda’s passion is infectious and her way of looking at the likes of physics and astronomy will surely kindle that spark. One thing’s for sure, the world could do with a few more Matildas in it.
A Complete (and Completely Disgusting) Guide to the Human Body | This is an information text that will be read with great pleasure and is actually as unputdownable as a novel. It is very apparent that the multimillion-copy selling author and medical doctor has never grown out of his gleeful fascination with the human machine and has a real knack for presenting complex facts both clearly and concisely while making the reader laugh out loud. Similarly, the illustrations by Henry Parker combine accurate explanatory diagrams and zany amusing cartoons, often on the same page. Much of the humour is, of course, derived from the more disgusting aspects of the internal and external body and to making fun of the complicated language and terminology doctors and scientists use, but nonetheless using and explaining all those terms. Indeed the book concludes with a brilliantly educative glossary (and even the jokes are indexed!) A running gag is Clive and the ‘naming committee’ responsible for naming body parts, as is the continued references to the author’s dog Pippin, but always in a way which enhances an explanation or a description and develops understanding. Chapters cover all the organs and systems of the body as well as reproduction, life and death and germs (including COVID-19) and include Kay’s Kwestions (another running gag about needing a replacement Q on his keyboard) and True or Poo sections which answer the sort of questions inquisitive children will be dying to ask and expose the myths, misinformation and old wives tales that you might have heard. He does not shrink from difficult topics or giving unpopular advice – junk food, smoking and drinking really are bad for you and washing your hands properly is important.
From million-copy bestselling author David Baddiel comes a laugh-out-loud and inspiring new adventure for all readers of 8 and up that is ahead of its time - 1,001 years ahead, to be precise... The year is 3020. Pip@256X#YY.3_7 is lonely and bored: she goes to virtual school on her G-Glasses, she only has a talking cat and parrot to hang out with, and she can't even leave her LivingSpace due to the extreme heat and floods outside. Until the day that Pip explores a glowing ring in a lab and finds herself in a warehouse, in 2019. Where she meets boy-inventor Rahul - who is also lonely and bored. Together, Rahul and Pip are no longer lonely. But they have a whole load of new problems, including hiding talking animals from Rahul's parents, and finding a way back to the future. Plus - just maybe - saving the world... Future Friend is a terrifically entertaining time-slip adventure that combines action, laugh-out-loud humour and the importance of friendship, in a story that asks the question - what would happen if your best friend came from the future?
As we know, Marie Curie was a trail blazer in so many ways – a woman in science, the first woman to win Nobel Prizes, a major protagonist in the discovery of radiation and x-rays. We may know much less about her background and her family history. This graphic novel shows us just some of the many problems Marie Curie had to rise above in her native Poland - where women were not allowed at the Universities. Told through a series of panels this biography includes all the scientific discoveries in a simple, easily accessible format that exposes the dangers, as well as the advantages of radiation. The illustrations are clear with plenty of room given to the text so that is easy to read and follow. A good addition to classroom collections – and will have special appeal for those pupils who may prefer a graphic approach or be less enthusiastic readers. There is a companion graphic book from Sunbird Books, It's Her Story: Rosa Parks, the hero behind the Montgomery Bus Strike.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month April 2021 | Packed full of illustrations, exciting experiments - and even comic strips - That's Life! encourages young scientists to start looking for the living things around them. Life is everywhere on planet Earth. Jungles, deserts, seas, plains, fields and forests - all of them teem with life but, amazingly, you can also find lots of living things hidden in your home, and even hidden inside you!
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month April 2021 | Until approximately 100 years ago wolves had roamed freely in Yellowstone Park and their existence had shaped the eco-system of that vast expanse of wilderness. But, over the years, hunters killed off the wolves and everything in Yellowstone Park began to change. Elk took over the valleys eating everything they could so many plant species disappeared, bears went hungry and many of the familiar birds flew away. Yellow stone Park was changed! A plan was hatched to put wolves back into the habit making sure that their arrival would only do good. It was complex and daring but, once it had been carried off, fourteen wolves began a new life and the ecology of Yellowstone Park began to change again… Catherine Barr tells most of the story as narrative non-fiction which brings the environment and the animals vividly to life. Further facts are added in an additional, fact-filled section. Jenni Desmond’s illustrations evoke the wild and mysterious background of Yellowstone Park perfectly.
What do you see when you look up at the sky? It may seem like a big, empty space, but it's busier than you think. From clouds and stars, to birds, planes and everything in between - there's a whole sky to explore. Skygazing is a double-sided book full of incredible cross-curricular information, fun activities, and beautiful illustrated scenes to enjoy. Discover why the sky is blue, early experiments in flight, and how helicopters stay aloft, before flipping the book to read all about the night sky. Find out how to read the stars, spot the night's flying creatures and see the colours of the aurora borealis.
Who knew you could do so much with – and learn so much from – an ordinary glass jar? Created by scientist and educator Dr Sai Pathmanathan, this book contains 50 accessible, low-cost, hands-on science activities that will educate and inspire young minds about everything from magnets to matter, and light to evolution. And the most amazing thing is, pretty much all you need to set them up, is a jar. Dr Pathmanathan believes that science can be most awe-inspiring when we work things out for ourselves, and that’s definitely borne out here, where children are inspired to think about science, and use what they observe themselves to come to conclusions. The instructions for each experiment are easy to follow and accompanied by clear explanations of the science behind it, as well as suggestions for additional activities. Designed for use at home or at school, this will definitely appeal to enquiring minds and open up a world of wonder. One word of warning though – there are some groan-inducing puns as chapter titles!
The future is in our hands | This is a book which follows through on commitment – not only is it sustainably produced, but one tree will be planted for every book sold in the UK. It is also a beautifully designed and illustrated book with a carefully thought out structure and page layout to really aid comprehension and understanding. The first section explains the causes of climate change, from greenhouse gases to deforestation, and the combined effect of agriculture, energy production and consumption, buildings and mining. The next section shows the effects on rising sea levels, biodiversity, storms, flooding, heatwaves, wildfires etc. Each spread includes a mix of images, graphic representations, text boxes and conveys a great deal of information in a clear, accessible and engaging manner. There is also a Changemaker feature on every page which gives brief details about a young person affected by these issues and what they did to combat them. The third section “Our Part” shows the individual contribution to the problem and is the clearest explanation I have seen of the carbon footprint of our food, our clothes, our homes, our travel and our stuff! But far from being a depressing book, the last section “ Inspiration” lists more young Groundbreakers and tells us what we each can do and what sort of green futures we can work towards, revealing more amazing ideas getting started than I had thought possible. A detailed and informative glossary ensures this book takes no chances with understanding. This is an outstanding information book which is useful for a wide range of students.
March 2021 Non-Fiction Book of the Month | The Usborne Book of the Brain (and How it Works) by neuroscientist Betina Ip is a delightful science book aimed at children aged 5+. It takes young readers on a journey inside the human head to see how the brain works and what it does, looking at the main brain cells (neurons) and their connections. It uses simple terms to explain how we see, think, use our senses, feel emotions, form memories, sleep and make decisions. Using age-appropriate practical examples, such as ‘How do we decide which ice cream to have?’, the book gives young children plenty to talk about with their family, friends and teachers. There are also sections on how to look after your brain and how scientists learn about brains. With its colourful illustrations and packed full of fascinating facts, this book is perfect – and great fun – for inquisitive children (and their parents).
First published over 150 years ago, Darwin’s On the Origin of Species still shapes how we see the world, and his words and theories are fascinating for young people. This handsomely illustrated book clearly explains Darwin’s discoveries and what they revealed in a way that even young children will follow and understand. It’s divided into short, manageable sections, each examining and elucidating Darwin’s ideas on selection and evolution, the final pages bringing us right up to date and outlining what we can do now thanks to modern discoveries and technology. Beautiful to look at, it’s genuinely inspiring, a way to tune young readers into Darwin’s thought process and spark their imagination and interest in science as a result.