Reviewed by Steve Canipe
Director, Science, Mathematics & Instructional Design Technology
While it might seem a “no–brainer” to some, this book takes the idea of using these supplemental books to enhance science teaching and describes specific examples that teachers will appreciate. Reading books like Goldilocks and the Three Bears might normally not be considered for teaching science but Royce, Morgan, and Ansbury do just that—along with how best to use it to enhance science instruction.
In addition to the chapters discussing various books and how they might be used, there are standards alignment charts using the National Science Education Standards (NSES) in the book. The authors have been writing a column for the NSTA journal Science and Children since 2003 and this book is a compilation of fifty of those articles, with the addition of student data charts and informational tables to enhance the usefulness. To help teachers find a relevant book, the authors have the activities organized around the new Framework for K–12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas.
AAAS began the effort of using trade books to enhance teaching in 1965 and in 1973, NSTA, working with the Children’s Book Council, began advocating the idea of using supplemental books to help enhance science teaching. The concept of using outside materials to enhance science is not new but this volume provides some clear direction and specific examples. A teacher might wonder why to use a trade book in the ways envisioned by the authors. In the introductory material, the authors provide a curricular connection for each trade book. They also ask for the reader to think of a particular book that was a childhood favorite. In many cases, teachers recalled books with either direct or indirect science content.
This reviewer found himself transported back to reading to his two–year old daughter the little books (both out of print) Hello Rock by Roger Bradfield and What Shall I Put in the Hole That I Dig by Eleanor Thompson. These were setting the stage for her continued interest in science, currently a PhD candidate in science education.
Teachers and parents can help in creating wonderment through books and stories. It is never too early to set the stage for seeing connections between what one reads for fun and science. The authors point out several reasons why using trade books is a good idea, including creating wonderment and excitement as well as setting a learning context and helping develop inquiry. A caveat about some misconceptions from trade books is mentioned but any misconception can also be useful to the teacher in discussing a particular book in a scientific context.
Material in the book is divided into units: Engineering, Technology, and Applications (chapts. 3–15); Physical Science (chapts. 16–25); Life Sciences (chapts. 24–40); and Earth and Space (chapts. 41–52). In addition to a clear table of contents, there is an easily usable index. Perhaps the most useful additions are the work pages and data charts that are included and copyright permission is given to reproduce these pages for classroom use.
As the reader goes through the chapters, there is a likelihood that a favorite book might be mentioned. Even if you don’t find a current favorite, there is a strong possibility that a new lesson idea will occur to you as you peruse the various chapters. This book is a very worthwhile addition to any teacher’s bookshelf but this is especially true for those in grades PK–8. There are many useful ideas presented, some of which can be used directly, but the key is using the ideas as a guide to enhance instruction beyond the specifically mentioned trade books. Teaching Science Through Trade Books is definitely a should–have book for both new and experienced teachers.
Review posted on 7/10/2012