Good children's science books make learning fun
My philosophy is this: if your child shows an interest in a particular subject, it's time to go shopping. Provide the tools that'll allow and encourage that interest to grow.
Tool #1: Books (and Magazines)
To my mind, it's never too early to introduce a book on a particular subject. If your 4 year old likes working with you in the garden, a picture book on cool plants is in order. A book on the biggest trees or the craziest flowers even. Let learning take root and grow.
I've found at least a couple organizations that award prizes to the best science books for kids. These are excellent places to start.
A science lab at Lousiana State University...
...took it upon themselves to create an award for best kids' science picture book. Awarded since 1998, the winning book needs to "teach its young reader at least one important scientific principle, or encourage the reader toward specific science-related pursuits or inquiry." And in case of a tie...
The book about plants wins. I guess the lab has its own preferences!
Giverny Award Winner
Redwoods by Jason Chin
Forest Bright/Forest Night by Jennifer Ward
The Prince of Butterflies by Bruce Coville
The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson
Daniel and His Walking Stick by Wendy McCormick
Squirrel and John Muir by Emily Arnold McCully
George the Giant Tortoise by Francine Jacobs
The Hidden Forest by Jeannie Baker
Rare Treasure: Mary Anning and Her Remarkable Discoveries by Don Brown
Henry Hikes to Fitchburg by D.B. Johnson
A Log's Life by Wendy Pfeffer
Sam Plants a Sunflower by Kate Petty
The Water, Earth, and Air We Share by Molly Bang
The good folks at SB&F make a business of reviewing science books for children and adults. Each year they award prizes in a number of categories. They believe that much of what makes for good children's books makes for good children's science books.
(I couldn't agree more.)
In addition, they believe "high-quality science books must also be accurate and present scientific processes in a way that can be understood by a child without misleading oversimplification."
They have awards for a number of different categories, not just picture books for the young kids. (Though they have that too!) Here are the winners:
Children's Science Picture Book
Middle Grades Children's Science Book
Young Adult Science Books
Outstanding Science Series
Children's Science Books Lifetime Achievement Award
Popular Science Book for High School Readers
Hands-on Children's Science Book
Still more from SB&F
Before coming up with the SB&F awards, the site simply created a wide-ranging list of the best children's science books of the year.
If your child's science book interests are more specific, these are terrific lists. There are a growing number of years' worth of the best books in a number of scientific fields...
There are too many books on the lists for me to reproduce here, so instead I'll point you directly to Children's Science Books and Films Online.
Tell 'em who sent you!
And don't forget...
Children's science magazines. For a child with wide-ranging scientific interests, a science mag is the gift that keeps on giving. The best news is that some of the best children's magazines out there are science-based. And there are science magazines for every age.
Visit my magazines page for a list that links to my reviews of all the top children's science magazines.
Best Children's Books home.