AN ANNOTATED LIST OF SELECT TITLES
What makes a good science book for children? In preparing this list we have looked for books that are accurate and interesting, and that have that extra spark of inspiration that will challenge and extend the reader. We have also looked for a variety of presentations.
There is a tendency for science books to impart information in a didactic way. While this approach is useful for the reader who needs to search out facts, it does little to teach the process of science thinking or the feeling that scientists have for their subject.
Good science books do more than inform about facts. They also show how beautiful, intricate and interlinked physical existence is; and they are written in a way that helps children develop language skills. There is no need for gimmicks. Discovering the world around us is a wonderful experience and gimmicks tend to demean both it and children.
This is not an exhaustive list of good science books but it does show the scope of what is available and will provide a broad framework for catching the imagination of a variety of children and for developing their interest.
In assessing a science book one needs to look at:
- Writing style: grace of language, storytelling skill and descriptive power of the verbal text.
- Graphic style: clarity, aesthetic appeal and suitability of the illustrations.
- Integration of verbal text and illustrations, both in style and positioning.
- Design: in a non-fiction book, design has an important effect on how well the book works.
Many science books come in series. It is unusual for a series to be of a uniform standard, so in this selection a choice of one book in a series does not mean that others are equally as good.
Not all books in this list are currently in print, but they should be available in public and school libraries.
The readiness of individual children to read or listen to books of different difficulty varies considerably, so any indication of age levels needs to be taken as a rough guide only.