8 by Eight
This month's 8 by Eight list focuses on books about science.
I thoroughly enjoyed putting together this month's list of science books because so much about the early years is processing the world, enviornment, people, and learning communication. What part of the first three years isn't about science!? That said, these books do emphasize the biological sciences, but I added a couple of extras just for fun. Really, that's what learning is about; it's fun! Learning and fun are indistinguishable for early learners (and old learners). Playing with shapes is learning about shapes. Going on a walk and looking at birds is learning about flight. Play is vital for learners and these books are suggested as tools for conversations, interaction, and FUN! Enjoy!
Dot, Stripe, Squiggle contains exactly four words: dot, stripe, squiggle, and and! The text, sparse as it is, asks readers to examine the (beautiful) illustrations and discuss what makes a dot, what makes a stripe, and what makes a squiggle. The back page lists the names of all the sea animals showcased in the book. Now take a walk (outside or around the house). Where else can you find dots, and stripes, and squiggles!?
We're seeing a boom in baby non-fiction, including series that address complex scientific concepts. Interestingly, the books break down ideas like thermodynamics, aerospace engineering, and quantum mechanics in such a way that even adults can understand them. I'm delighted to see that the Baby Loves! series is now available in bilingual editions. Learn about Quarks in English and in Spanish. Then break out the blocks and start building structures along with the book. Good news, you get to smash them all at the end.
I Hear a Pickle is one of my favorite books to share with educators. It is a book about senses (science!) and engaging with the environment. The repetitive text explains, "I can hear a birdie . . . I can smell the soap . . . I see the moon . . . I touch the rain . . . I taste the apple" each coupled with a visual vignette. There are a few cute moments about things you might *not* want to hear, smell, see, touch, or taste! Use the textual model from the book to explore the house (I touch the books), the yard (I smell the grass), and the neighborhood (I hear the cars).
X-Ray Me: Look Inside Your Body is a delightful book for explaining systems and organs inside the body to older toddlers. The book has two handles so you can hold it in front of your head (when talking about the skull or brain) and chest (when talking about the heart or ribs). The book focuses primarly on the skeletal, digestive, and respiratory systems.
Teriffic Tongues uses a scaffolding format that I really appreciate in picture book non-fiction. It means that each page contains varying levels of text. In Terrific Tongues, the first level is simply one word, which is represented by a large, designed font. With young learners, you could just read that one word "Woodpecker" (usually the name of an animal) to connect the word with the visual representation of a woodpecker. For slightly older learners, you might add the second level of text, which is also a larger font size, but not as large as the one word. This second level of text contains information embedded in a question: "If you had a tongue like a sword, you might be a . . . " and the answer (woodpecker) appears on the following page. This second scaffold level also provides an interactive component. Readers familiar with the book (and the tongue questions) will be able to answer, especially once you turn the page and they see the animal they have been learning to idenfity in the first scaffold. Finally, the third level is 2-3 sentences and has more information about the animal. This text is for next level learners, ones who want to know more information about woodpeckers and are ready for vocabulary such as "barbed" and "burrow." This scaffolding technique appears in numerous non-fiction picture books and is a great way for readers to level up with one book. For tongue enthusiasts in particutular, Terrific Tongues includes back matter and additional information.
We're Going on a Bear Hunt might be a familiar book and maybe you have even used it to model exploratory walks in your own family. The franchise is branching out to encourage continued scientific exploration: there is an explorer's journal, a field guide, a book about insects, and one about birds. Let's Discover Birds contains information, activities, recipes, game suggestions, crafts, and stickers! A great interactive book for outside when the weather permits and inside activities when it doesn't.
Cece Loves Science and Adventure is a fiction picture book about Cece's adventures at Adventure Girl camp. The girls in the club have plans to set up tents and go on a hike. The wind and the rain make both difficult, but they use STEM problem solving skills (and they work together), earning their pins and badges. This book is the second in a series and is a companion title to Cece Loves Science.
Book of Flight: 10 Record-Breaking Animals with Wings is a gorgeous book about animals that fly. Each animal receives two double-page spreads. The first introduces the animal in the form of a question: "Guess who is the fastest flyer?" There is information about the animal and a diagram highlighting different biological traits that help with speed. This spread is in blue and white resembling an architect's blueprints and connoting the structure needed for flight. The second spread, containing the answer, is in color. The wings are textured for an interactive component. Like Terrific Tongues, this book contains scaffolding text. A reader could focus just on the question/answer text on each page. Advanced readers will want to read more of the informational text. Back matter includes a glossary, letter from the author, and further reading list.