Tag Archives: book lists

STEM Tuesday Science in Fiction Books– In the Classroom

We’ve taken a few of the titles from last week’s book list – Science in Fiction Books – and found some fantastic ways to use them in the classroom. There are lots of links and places for teachers, students, and parents to go from here!  Have fun!

The Reinvention of Edison Thomas   by Jacqueline Houtman

Science comes easily to Eddy (Edison) Thomas. Social relationships? Not so much. On her website, Houtman shares a number of classroom activities which will prod middle-grade readers toward deeper discovery and understanding. Here are a couple.  See more cross-curricular classroom activities here. 

Design an experiment to test Fact Number 28 (p. 73): Listening to slow music can lower your heart rate, while music with a faster tempo can increase your heart rate. Who would be your subjects? How would you measure heart rate? What other factors might affect your experiment? How would you make sure that you are only measuring the effect of the music?

Find out how the special effects in your favorite science fiction or fantasy movie were done. (Many DVDs come with special feature discs that explain how the effects were achieved, or you can use the Internet.) How have special effects in movies changed in the last 10 years? 30 years? 50 years? How did they do special effects before there were computers and computer animation?

Eye of the Storm  by Kate Messner

A summer at science camp turns into a life-or-death situation for Jaden and her new friends Risha and Alex in this thrilling science-packed middle-grade novel.  Teachers can find a thorough Eye of the Storm Discussion Guide on author Kate Messner’s website as well as a link to a gallery of Eye of the Storm Resources on Pinterest. 

Is there a Placid Meadows in your state?  Use data from the national weather service to look at where tornados or super storms have occurred in your state in the past year. Map locations and decide if there is a spot that, like the fictional Placid Meadows, seems immune from such disasters. Or, is there a “tornado alley” or path that seems to attract severe weather time and time again?

Using gripping fiction like  Eye of the Storm in conjunction with nonfiction books about climate change and super storms can add a personal element to research and discussion of these topics.

The Same Stuff as Stars by Katherine Paterson

Truly a story of discovery, this novel takes readers along with Angel, the 11-year-old main character, on a journey in which she’ll find out things about herself and about the universe that she never believed possible.

The National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance (NCBLA) has created a wonderful teacher’s resource for The Same Stuff as Stars here.  (Scroll past the resources for one of Paterson’s other books, but tuck those away for another day!)

As Angel learns more about the constellations, teachers and parents can help young readers do the same with websites such as KidsAstronomy.com and NASA Kids Club.

The Great Hibernation by Tara Dairman

Every great story and every great scientific discovery have started with the same question:  “What if?” So, what if every adult in the whole town of St. Polonius fell asleep and the children were left to run the town?

There’s so much fun to be had with a story that mixes science and problem-solving with  politics and mystery.

The Investigative Process and Premise –  Scientists begin their investigative process by asking questions.  Authors create a premise before drafting a novel. They are both asking and answering the “What if” question. Take a look at the books your class had read this year. What is the “what if” question posed by the author. Now, take a look the science topics you’ve discussed this year. What questions did the scientists ask for their investigations?  Now ask your students the following questions:   Can your science topics lead to new fictional story ideas?  Can fiction stories lead you to further investigate a science topic?

What is hibernation? Using the unexpected hibernation of the adults in St. Polonius to launch a study of real hibernation. Which animals hibernate and why? Where and when do animals hibernate?  Use facts found at How Stuff Works  to chart your findings on graphs or maps.

Add to the list!  If you have a classroom activity to accompany a sciencey-fiction book you’ve read, post it in the comments below. We love sharing your ideas!

Michelle Houts is the author of ten books for young readers. Her Lucy’s Lab series is another example of science-filled fiction. Find Lucy’s Pinterest page with classroom activities and experiments here.

Jolabokaflod: Middle Grade Authors Share Their Giving Lists

Long before I first heard of the Icelandic tradition of Jolabokaflod (which roughly translates to Christmas Book Flood in English – and is the tradition of giving books on Christmas Eve, then sitting together as a family and reading), I created a little winter book tradition of my own.

Every year, right around the beginning of December, I buy myself a book. It’s almost always a hard copy – a rare treat for me – and something that serves only one purpose – to be a total and complete pleasure read. No craft books. No self-help. No keeping up with my genre books. Just pure pleasure coupled with the promise to set aside some time to curl up with a hot chocolate and read just for the pure joy of it.

Because I enjoyed this little treat so much, I decided to extend the giving to family and friends, and created a second tradition – a New Year’s Gift. Every year, I give the people closest to me a book that represents their dreams, goals, or desires for the upcoming year – and may serve as a launching-off spot – or a touchstone – for their plans. I’ve given everything from Axe-Man comics to books of Daily Rituals, to magazine subscriptions – anything that I think might help or inspire the person in the new year.

This year, I’ve added some new people to my giving list,  so I turned to my own personal panel of experts  – my middle grade author friends – for advice. I asked them what middle grade books they were giving as gifts this holiday season. Here are their suggestions:

Sally J. Pla, author of The Someday Birds and Stanley Will Probably Be Fine (coming Feb. 6, 2018!)

I think Xmas/the holidays are a great time to gift picture books, even to adults. The best of them are such beautiful works of art.There are two PBs I’ll gift to young families, because I think they should be in every kid’s library. PEOPLE, a classic PB by Peter Speier visually depicts the beautiful physical diversity of people around the world — spreads it out in a cornucopia of hundreds of images of noses, ears, hands, outfits, etc. The result is this beautiful mozaic of how wide and diverse and amazing the world is. Then: (2) COME WITH ME by my friend Holly McGhee is a sweet sensitive story about how even the tiniest, smallest acts of kindness can help address the bad stuff in the world. As for MG novels to gift: there are far too many wonderful ones to name, and I usually like to customize the book to the particular kid. But one particular Christmas-themed warm-and-fuzzy book that I think will have great general appeal is Karina Glaser’s wonderful THE VANDERBEEKERS OF 141st STREET.

 

 

Melissa Roske, author of Kat Greene Comes Clean

For the holidays this year, I will be bestowing copies of Jonathan Rosen’s hilarious MG adventure, NIGHT OF THE LIVING CUDDLE BUNNIES, on young readers here and abroad. Not only is it laugh-out-loud funny, CUDDLE BUNNIES has a likable and hugely relatable main character (Devin Dexter), plus slew of colorful supporting characters – including a sock-puppet-wielding warlock named Herb. I can’t recommend this title enough. It’s BUN-tastic! Hoppy holidays!

 

Supriya Kelkar, author of Ahimsa

I’m giving REFUGEE by Alan Gratz to an older MG reader. It is a powerful, gripping, eye-opening story that I am sure she will not be able to put down.

 

 

Jarrett Lerner, author of Enginerds

Just a FEW of the MG books I’m gifting — 1. Jodi Kendall’s THE UNLIKELY STORY OF A PIG IN THE CITY. Not only is it a wonderful (and wonderfully written) book, it is simply perfect for this time of year. It is full of warm, utterly lovely family scenes, and reading them serves as an always-welcome reminder of what matters most during this holiday season. 2. Caroline Carlson’s THE WORLD’S GREATEST DETECTIVE. Caroline’s prose sparkles, and her storytelling prowess is second-to-none. I absolutely loved her previous series, and was thrilled to hear she was penning a mystery. It is, as expected, impeccable. And who doesn’t love to curl up with a finely written, cleverly crafted mystery during their days off? 3. Jan Gangei’s THE WILD BUNCH. I didn’t keep count, but I’m fairly certain that this is the book that made me laugh out loud the most this year. Its zany characters leap off of the page, and get themselves into one hilariously outrageous situation after the next. Amidst all the silliness, however, there is a subtle thread of seriousness, there for the interested reader to unpack and consider.

           

 

Janet Sumner Johnson, author of The Last Great Adventure of the PB & J Society.

My sons have been dying to read the 3rd book in the Bounders series, THE FORGOTTEN SHRINE, by Monica Tesler. It releases on Dec. 12th, so perfect timing for Christmas!

 

 

Kristin Gray, author of Vilonia Beebe Takes Charge

My daughter (10) adores graphic novels, so she is getting ALL’s FAIRE IN MIDDLE SCHOOL by Victoria Jamieson and PASHMINA by Nidhi Chanani.

 

    

What books are you planning on giving this season  – to yourself, loved ones, or even a perfect stranger? Let us know in the comments section below!

STEM Tuesday Science in Fiction Books — Book List

Welcome to December! You’ve heard of science fiction, well this month we are focusing on science IN fiction! These middle grade novels  include  inspiring characters who love science. We’ve included a “cheat-sheet” breakdown beside each book to alert you to the STEM topic included.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Lucy’s Lab chapter book series by Michelle Houts
[book 1: habitats, book 2: states of matter, book 3:fossils]
In book one of the series, Lucy’s teacher tells her that they will have their very own lab in the classroom, complete with lab coats and goggles. Lucy can’t wait! Lucy’s first inquiry-based project? Find out where the squirrels will live once the tree in front of the school is cut down.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org The Reinvention of Edison Thomas by Jacqueline Houtmann
[invention, engineering, physics]
Eddy is a science geek who has problems communicating with others. He must learn to trust his real friends and use his talents to succeed. *Library Media Connection

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org The Red Blazer Girls by Michael Beil
[math]
A series of four titles for mystery lovers, and the detectives are girls who love math. In The Secret Cellar (book 4), Sophie finds a secret message in an antique fountain pen. To solve the mystery, the girls must solve puzzles which lead to a hidden treasure.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Frank Einstein series by Jon Scieszka
[invention, engineering, physics, robotics]
Science experiments, inventions, jokes, and a kid-genius are the subject of this series. Frank Einstein loves to figure out how the world works by creating unusual household contraptions that are part science, and part imagination. “I never thought science could be funny,” say Jeff Kinney (author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid).

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm
[science of life and death, genetics, science of aging]
A new boy enters Ellie’s life who looks a lot like her dead grandfather, a scientist who’s always been obsessed with immortality. Could the pimply boy really be Grandpa  Melvin?

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org The Same  Stuff as Stars by Katherine Patterson
[astronomy]
The bright part in Angel’s life is learning about the stars, planets, and constellations from a mysterious stranger. *Kirkus

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Eye of the Storm by Kate Messner
[climatology]
This title is set in a future time when massive storms are part of everyday life. NSTA/CBC Outstanding Trade Book

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin
[zoology, oceanography]
This story focuses on grief, wonder, life, death, and oceanography. Benjamin weaves in details about jellyfish and the ocean into her lyrical text. National Book Award Finalist

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Saving Wonder by Mary Knight
[conservation, environmental health]
Set in the Appalachian Mountains, Saving Wonder tells the story of Curley Hines, who must speak out against Big Coal to save his mountain. Green Earth Book Award

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
[evolution]
Calpurnia Virginia Tate is an inquisitive eleven-year old in 1890 who will inspire budding naturalists. 2010 Newbery Award  (Look for the sequel)

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org The Cry of the Crow by Jean Craighead George
[ornithology, animal behavior]
Mandy’s family thinks of crows as pests and hunts them to protect their valuable strawberry crop. But when Mandy takes on the care of a baby crow  she is faced with difficult decisions and the struggles of growing up.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Someday Suitcase by Corey Ann Haydu
[health]
A mixture of science, art, magic, and love. Clover and Danny are two best friends who are better together. In fact, Clover thinks they’re symbiotic. In this poignant story, Haydu introduces readers to complex characters who face tough situations with friendship and love.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org The Great Hibernation by Tara Dairman
[science ethics]
On Founder’s Day in St. Polonius-on-the-Fjord, everyone over the age of twelve must eat a sliver of bear’s liver to celebrate the town’s history. When Jean Huddy finally comes of age to participate in this great honor, she pukes up her portion. A few hours later, all of St. Polonius’s adults fall into a deep sleep, and the children must run the town. Courage, teamwork, ans science come to the rescue to unlock this unusual mystery.

We could go on and on with lots of other great titles that include science in fiction. Can you name others?

 

STEM Tuesday book lists prepared by:

Nancy Castaldo has written books about our planet for over 20 years including her 2016 title, THE STORY OF SEEDS: From Mendel’s Garden to Your Plate, and How There’s More of Less To Eat Around The World, which earned the 2017 Green Earth Book Award and other honors. Nancy’s research has taken her all over the world from the Galapagos to Russia. She enjoys sharing her adventures, research, and writing tips with readers. Nancy also serves as the Regional Advisor of the Eastern NY SCBWI region. Her 2018 title is BACK FROM THE BRINK: Saving Animals from Extinction. www.nancycastaldo.com

Patricia Newman writes middle-grade nonfiction that inspires kids to seek connections between science, literacy, and the environment. The recipient of the Green Earth Book Award and a finalist for the AAAS/Subaru Science Books and Films Award, her books have received starred reviews, been honored as Junior Library Guild Selections, and included on Bank Street College’s Best Books lists. During author visits, she demonstrates how her writing skills give a voice to our beleaguered environment. Visit her at www.patriciamnewman.com.

Check back every Tuesday of every month:

  • Week 1:  STEM Tuesday Themed Book Lists
  • Week 2:  STEM Tuesday in the Classroom
  • Week 3:  STEM Tuesday Crafts and Resources
  • Week 4:  STEM Tuesday Author Interviews and Giveaways