I have often witnessed children’s interest peak when someone has read a picture book on a science related topic. Their eyes are glued to the book, excitedly waiting for the page to be turned, yet still trying to take in all the stunning illustrations and information from the current page.
Picture books, both fiction and nonfiction, can be a great way to support children in increasing their science knowledge. These types of books support children in understanding scientific concepts that may have an abstract quality to them. Author Laura Purdie Salas’s book A Rock Can Be…, allows children to view rocks in ways that they may have never considered before. This book uses poetic expression to provide information through rich vocabulary and beautiful illustrations on how rocks are used and their different forms. Literature can be used as a medium to help children solidify their understanding and break through misconceptions about science concepts.
Nonfiction picture books have been used to teach science for a long time, however, there is now a plethora of a new kind of nonfiction book that goes a step beyond providing information and illustrations. These types of nonfiction books draw their audience in through the use of nontraditional text layouts. The design features come alive as you turn the pages which are filled with complex subject matter. They are written in a simplistic, reader-friendly way, with vivid illustrations and creative layouts. Giant Squid by Candace Fleming is a prime example of this new twist on how nonfiction authors are presenting information to their audience. Although the title leaves no mystery about the subject matter, you are still captivated by the book. The cover shows only a glimpse of the squid. Then, as you turn to the first page, the mystery begins. Fleming does not return to her title page until about seven pages into the book, building anticipation page by page. Throughout the book there are rich illustrations that lay the way for text to be written more as verse than as nonfiction. Readers will be spellbound. So be on the lookout for interesting picture books to use for science.
Here are a few to start you out:
Gobble it Up by Jim Arnosky
Trout Are Made of Trees by April Pulley Sayre
Flying Frogs and Walking Fish and Apex Predators by Steve Jenkins
Hip-Pocket Papa and Little Lost Bat by Sandra Markle
A Beetle Is Shy by Dianna Hutts Aston
Among a Thousand Fireflies by Helen Frost
The Alligator's Smile and Other Poems by Jane Yolen