Our vision of what we call science has broadened. The practices we use to explore the natural world and to create new products now include mathematics and engineering. We also recognize the importance of the arts, history, and human perspectives in these explorations. Science is not just one “way of knowing,” but many. The same is true for our vision of outstanding science literature. Today’s best science trade books include captivating stories of human achievement—like those of Rachel Carson or the diverse investigators in What Color Is My World? They combine science and engineering, like the story of the Mighty Mars Rovers. They feature outstanding art, lyric poetry, and plenty of ideas for hands-on activity. These great books have something to grab the minds and hearts of diverse learners. So once again, we present a list of the year’s Outstanding Science Trade Books with pride and optimism. They have the potential to enrich and inspire, as they convey the best science content. Please share.
Animal Grossapedia. Melissa Stewart. Scholastic.
Just gross enough that children will read it, with a good variety of examples and nice focus on vocabulary.
A Warmer World. Caroline Arnold. Charlesbridge.
Beautiful book with two levels: story line and facts about an important current issue and its effect on animals.
ABC ZooBorns! Andrew Bleiman and Chris Eastland. Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane Books.
Younger readers will love this book; lovely language and photos in an alphabet theme.
About Habitats: Oceans. Cathryn Sill. Peachtree Publishers.
Double level book with unusual format; a simple story line and beautiful artwork. Great addition to this popular series.
Alex the Parrot: No Ordinary Bird. Stephanie Spinner. Random House/Knopf.
Good literature bringing attention to the intelligence of animals and treatment of pets, and the story line emphasizes the ongoing nature of this research on animal behavior.
Alien Deep. Bradley Hague. National Geographic Children’s Books.
Great example of scientists who kept asking questions; data rich text.
Barnum’s Bones. Tracey Fern. Macmillan Children’s Book Group/Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers.
Nice story of discovery, which illustrates that such projects take time, and the value of collection and observation.
Birds of a Feather. Bernadette Gervais and Francesco Pittau. Chronicle Books.
Fun and interactive; tactile format allows a list of facts to become interesting.
Black Gold. Albert Marrin. Random House/Knopf.
Easy to understand presentation of hard concepts; makes Earth science content understandable.
Body Actions. Shelley Rotner. Holiday House.
A great introduction to body systems for children; easy to understand at that grade level.
Bomb. Steve Sheinkin. Macmillan Children’s Book Group/Roaring Brook Press/Flash Point.
Lots of science, with a thread of intrigue running through it that will keep secondary students going.
Citizen Scientists. Loree Griffin Burns. Macmillan Children’s Book Group/Henry Holt Books for Young Readers.
Great stories about young investigators and place-based science; inspirational.
D is for Desert. Barbara Gowan. Sleeping Bear Press.
Dual-level book, with rhyming couplets to read aloud. Many possibilities to link to social studies.
Desert Baths. Darcy Pattison. Sylvan Dell Publishing.
Great compare-and-contrast text of animals performing common tasks.
Dolphin Baby. Nicola Davies. Candlewick Press.
With very simple vocabulary, smooth flowing text, and sound science facts, this book will engage early readers.
Eight Days Gone. Linda McReynolds. Charlesbridge.
Brilliant poetry describes an out-of-this-world experience in space exploration.
Eye of the Storm. Kate Messner. Walker Books for Young Readers.
Good engineering and science fiction connections make this a good resource for the NGSS.
Faces From the Past. James M. Deem. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Great introduction to the science of facial reconstruction; outstanding illustrations.
Forensic Identification. Elizabeth A. Murray. Lerner/Twenty-First Century Books.
Personal stories make this book relatable for students even though the topic is quite serious; a dense but valuable reference.
Frogs! Laurence Pringle. Boyds Mills Press.
The interactive format makes the book stand out; nicely illustrated and includes interesting ways humans have interacted with frogs and their unique adaptations.
Get the Scoop on Animal Poop! Dawn Cusick. Charlesbridge/Imagine Publishing.
A totally new approach to food chains! Who thought poop could be outstanding? Just gross enough to fascinate.
Giant Squid. Mary M. Cerullo and Clyde F.E. Roper. Capstone Press.
A great companion book for a zoology class, with example of inquiry, historical perspective nicely intertwined with very nice text features.
Gopher to the Rescue. Terry Catasús Jennings. Sylvan Dell Publishing.
A good story that gives an unusual perspective on a current topic, showing succession after a volcano eruption on Mt. St. Helens.
Hiss-s-s-s! Eric A. Kimmel. Holiday House.
This book illustrates the need for responsibility in caring for a difficult pet and cultural sensitivity.
I, Galileo. Bonnie Christensen. Random House/Knopf.
Young students can be introduced to Galileo in this appealing book with great resources.
Invincible Microbe. Jim Murphy and Alison Blank. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Clarion Books.
Historical perspective on a microbe that made an impact on history; the long path to find a cure for this disease is still complex but students can learn a great deal from the process.
Island. Jason Chin. Macmillan Children’s Book Group/Roaring Brook Press/Flash Point.
Great example of change over time; well prepared method of introducing adaptations and evolution.
Ladybugs. Gail Gibbons. Holiday House.
A nice introduction with links to organic farming; good text elements like pronunciation guide and context clues for building reading skills.
Leopard and Silkie. Brenda Peterson. Macmillan Children’s Book Group/Henry Holt Books for Young Readers.
Sweet and simple version of an important story; relates being a citizen scientist to real ecological issues.
Life in the Ocean. Claire A. Nivola. Macmillan Children’s Book Group/Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers.
Sylvia Earle sets an example for great ocean science; the book also contains many examples such as journaling.
Moonbird. Phillip Hoose. Macmillan Children’s Book Group/Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers.
The voice of the author gives this book a special appeal (gave one reviewer goose bumps!); the science (especially sidebars) and the insight into how research is done were great elements. Great STEM resource.
My First Day. Steve Jenkins and Robin Page. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Beautiful pictures make this book come to life for young readers; excellent information regarding early animal adaptation.
Nature’s Patchwork Quilt. Mary Miché. Dawn Publications.
The illustrations make this book on habitats stand out; great text for integrating language arts because of treatment of key words.
Nic Bishop Snakes. Nic Bishop. Scholastic.
The photographer “blows the reader out of the water” with his photos; this will get every reader interested and enable inquiry.
One White Dolphin. Gill Lewis. Simon & Schuster/ Atheneum Books for Young Readers.
Presents complex scientific concepts in an interesting format that even non-traditional science students will love.
Open Wide! Catherine Ham. EarlyLight Books.
This book is a great one to share! What fun! It provides a unique perspective on animal adaptations.
Out of This World. Amy E. Sklansky. Random House/Knopf.
Points that are fun and scientifically accurate; this book enables the listener or reader to find evidence in poetry.
Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World. Laurie Lawlor. Holiday House.
What an inspiration for young girls who might become scientists. Beyond outstanding, 50 years after Rachel Carson’s landmark book. Illustrations, text, epilogue, and source notes add to the quality.
Saving Animals from Oil Spills. Stephen Person. Bearport Publishing.
Timely and well-written, this story integrates science and society.
Saving Yasha. Lia Kvatum. National Geographic Children’s Books.
Focuses on the scientific research that was needed to save the bear.
Scholastic Discover More: The Elements. Dan Green. Scholastic.
Books on chemistry are rare; strong blend of math and science which will serve to be an excellent reference.
Seababy. Ellen Levine. Walker Books for Young Readers.
Good story of human support for an endangered species (sea otters) with limited interference in the habitat and a link to a live webcam.
Seahorses. Jennifer Keats Curtis. Macmillan Children’s Book Group/Henry Holt Books for Young Readers.
The uniqueness of the species will totally engage readers and the science will amaze.
Seymour Simon’s Extreme Earth Records. Seymour Simon. Chronicle Books.
This book looks at very interesting environments; accurate and beautiful illustrations for both Earth and environmental curricula.
Sneed B. Collard III’s Most Fun Book Ever About Lizards. Sneed B. Collard III. Charlesbridge.
This book approaches the topic with humor; engaging and scientific; outstanding photos and great text from an author who has captivated readers for years.
Super Nature. DK Publishing.
A great classroom supplement with beautiful photos supported by facts.
Survival at 120 Above. Debbie S. Miller. Walker Books for Young Readers.
Solid book from previous winner; this lesser known condition for survival will fit in with the Standards. The book has complex, elegant language to describe the science.
Temple Grandin. Sy Montgomery. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
The autobiography of the autistic expert on animal treatment will be inspirational to a subset of students as well as to all readers.
The Beetle Book. Steve Jenkins. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Interesting illustrations bring this book of beetles to life, and turns this field guide into a favorite for young insect lovers.
The Book of Blood. HP Newquist. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
This will appeal to a wide audience and does a good job of describing many anecdotes about blood--even why the myth of vampires persisted in history.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer. Penguin/Dial.
The engineering and technology in the book’s story makes it a great STEM resource and an inspirational human story.
The Mighty Mars Rovers. Elizabeth Rusch. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
A timely topic; photographs of a working lab help students avoid misconceptions.
The Plant Hunters. Anita Silvey. Macmillan Children’s Book Group/ Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers.
This collection of botanist biographies expands the range of career resources.
The Polar Bear Scientists. Peter Lourie. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Another outstanding example in a diverse series about actual researchers; modern practices of science are illustrated as the book discusses climate change and habitat loss.
Track that Scat! Lisa Morlock. Sleeping Bear Press.
Engaging story in a dual text with good nonfiction information; multiple meanings of words will fascinate readers.
Waiting for Ice. Sandra Markle. Charlesbridge.
Touching, fact-based story about a bear observed in the wild. An important topic told in an accurate and interesting way.
What Color Is My World? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Raymond Obstfeld. Candlewick Press.
Integrated with technology, engineering and social studies, this book highlights unknown inventors. Useful for Invention units and STEM curricula. The variety of inventors and inventions will be appreciated.
Wild Horse Scientists. Kay Frydenborg. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
History of the wild horses on Assateague Island; researchers illustrate the methods used.
Full reviews of these books will be available in the March 2013 issues of NSTA’s K–12 journals and online.