The year's best science books for kids have something for everyone

Science Friday
Reading about science isn't just for grown-ups: There are many excellent science-related children's books, too.

Finding the perfect science book for an inquisitive kid isn’t always easy. Luckily, Science Fridayeducation program assistant Xochitl Garcia has done the legwork: She’s curated a list of 10 scientifically accurate, gorgeously illustrated and engaging books for kids ages 0 to 11. The list also includes activities you can do together after reading the books.

“First of all, I have to say it’s so hard,” Garcia says. “There are so many amazing science-themed children’s books that are coming out.”

Garcia loves one book by Dianna Hutts Aston, called “A Nest is Noisy,” because it can be read in numerous different ways. “It’s got a poem stretching through the pages of the book, so you could just read the poem and study the illustrations,” she says. Then, there are the illustrations themselves, done by Sylvia Long. “The attention to detail for nature is amazing” Garcia adds. “And then also the descriptions provided by Dianna are just really informative in these tidbit ways that young children love, these little factoids that they can bring out.”

Another book, “Professor Astro Cat’s Solar System” by Dominic Walliman, is the latest in the Professor Astro Cat series. Garcia says the kids in her life are enthralled by Ben Newman’s illustrations. “And after we finished reading the solar system book, they were like, ‘I didn’t know Mars had the biggest mountain in our solar system’ and all of these little facts that made them, in our age of technology, want to go online and explore further.”

“That’s what you want out of a science children’s book, is not just staying with the book,” she adds. “We have so much information at our fingertips, so you can go further, and these books definitely light the flame of inquiry in kids.”

“A Nest is Noisy” and “Professor Astro Cat’s Solar System” are perfect reads for kids ages around 5 to 7, but Garcia’s list even includes books that can get babies and toddlers excited about science. Case in point: Chris Ferrie’s Baby University series, which covers everything from quantum physics to rocket science in a way that’s fun for kids ages 1 to 3.

“I think the point of the books is not necessarily that they’re going to learn quantum physics from the book,” Garcia says. “It’s that even kids at a young age can have the language of science in their vocabulary, so as they develop and as they’re learning words, it’s awesome that they learn the word ‘electron’ or ‘neutron’ or they learn about general relativity. And some of that may stick, and some of it may not.”

This article is based on an interview that aired on PRI’s Science Friday with Ira Flatow. Check out the full list of books for young scientists at Science Friday

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