Friday, February 14, 2020

Books Can Help Us Think Like a Scientist!

Today I’m sharing picture books that feature scientists – and want-to-be scientists.
Theme: biography, STEM, inspiration 

Dream Big, Little Scientists: A Bedtime Book
by Michelle Schaub; illus. by Alice Potter
32 pages; ages 3-7
Charlesbridge, 2020 (releases Feb. 18 

Dream BIG, little scientists, and close your sleepy eyes…
This is the perfect bedtime story to read your STEM-enthused youngster. Each spread illustrates a young scientist getting ready for sleep. Posters on their walls, quilts, and books on their shelves highlight their passion for a particular field, from astronomy to geology to chemistry.

What I like about this book: I love the calming rhymes that incorporate principles from the different disciplines. For example, one room has posters of Donna Strickland and Stephen Hawking, books about Newton and flight and gravity, and paper airplanes scattered on the floor. The text is perfect: As motion slows and quiet grows, objects come to rest.

I also love the ending – which I am not going to spoil for you – and the back matter that encourages kids to Think Like a Scientist! That’s where readers can learn more about the different fields introduced in the book. (review copy provided by Blue Slip Media)

Mario and the Hole in the Sky: How a Chemist Saved Our Planet
by Elizabeth Rusch; illus. by Teresa Martinez
40 pages; ages 6-9
Charlesbridge, 2019

 Mario Molina was born in Mexico City on March 19, 1943. By the time he was six, the world was awash in amazing new products made from amazing new chemicals.

When he turned eight, his parents gave him a microscope. Mario put a drop of water – and then some dirty, smelly water – under his microscope lens. He looked at salt crystals, food, even toothpaste. When Mario wanted to turn a bathroom into a chemistry lab, his parents encouraged him – even buying chemicals he couldn’t find in children’s chemistry sets.

As Mario studied chemistry, he wondered about the safety of new chemicals. Soon, he was studying chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), chemicals used as a propellant in spray cans and used in refrigerators. They stuck around in the atmosphere and broke up the ozone molecules. Mario had to warn people, and quickly, before the hole in the ozone got too large to fix.

What I like about this book: Scientist-becomes-hero! A great story – but wait! What happens when people don’t want to believe what you have discovered? That, too, is part of this story. What I really like: that leaders from around the world listened and took action. It gives you hope that maybe, just maybe, we can come together again to solve global environmental problems.

I like that back matter includes a comparison between the Ozone hole and global warming. There’s a list of books you can read. And there is a short list of things you can do right now to reduce your contributions to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. (review copy provided by publisher)

Buzzing with Questions: the inquisitive mind of Charles Henry Turner
by  Janice N. Harrington; illus by Theodore Taylor III
48 pages; ages 7-10
Calkins Creek, 2019

As a passionate insect-watcher, I am happy to see a picture book about Charles Turner. He loved to study plants and animals, and bugged his parents with unending questions. When a teacher urged him to go find out the answers, Charles did. At a time when most colleges didn’t accept black students, Charles Turner went to college.

Charles asked BIG questions about small creatures: how does an ant find its way home? Could a cockroach learn to solve a maze? Can bees use color cues to find sweet rewards? He never tired of asking questions and sharing what he learned with his students. Back matter includes a timeline and resources for curious readers. (review ARC provided by publisher)

Beyond the Books:

Check out the biographies of the scientists whose posters are tacked to the walls of the kids in Dream Big... here at Michelle Schaub's website.

Learn more about Charles Turner here

Learn more about chemist Mario Molina here.

Think Like a Scientist – tips from a fun video.

We’ll join Perfect Picture Book Friday in a couple weeks -  once the Valentine story contest ends. PPBF is a gathering of bloggers who share their reviews of picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website.


  1. What a wonderful collection you have today! Are you going to participate in GBBC this weekend?

  2. Thank you for including my new STEM bedtime book in science-themed round up!

  3. Children will love all three of the science books you shared -- each with a little different perspective! II've been looking for some good nature books for my great grandson.