Sunday, December 18, 2016

Ideal Gift Books for the STEM Lover in All of Us

When I was a kid, there were two kinds of books I really loved. One was poetry anthologies, the other was encyclopedia-style books that had lots of information about many different things. I loved to browse through them, stop and read something of interest, then browse and stop some more. And they were ideal as a starting point for school reports, often pointing me in the right direction to find more information about a chosen subject. But I have to confess, the books I read were not nearly as good as the books that were available to my Kiddo when she was young. I am happy to say that there are lots more of these kinds of books being published now than even when she was growing up. Here, then are some of my favorite STEM gift books that kids will enjoy and return to again and again:

Ultimate Oceanpedia: The Most Complete Ocean Reference Ever
by Christina Wilsdon
National Geographic Kids, 2016, 272 pages, age 7+
Whether your young reader is a budding marine biologist, just a kid who loves the ocean, or even a kid who is a little afraid of the ocean, this beautiful book will unlock the mysteries of the underwater world and reveal its secrets. This book begins with details about the four oceans (Pacific, Atlantic, Indian and Arctic Oceans) that take up most of the earth's surface, then dives in to explore the different water levels (the sunlit zone, the twilight zone, and the midnight zone). From there, the reader is introduced to the different kinds of marine life found in our oceans, from mammals like polar bears, whales and dolphins, to crustaceans, mollusks, and sponges, and even coral and jellyfish, among other life forms. Kids will also find information about ocean motion and weather, and what is being done to rehabilitate ocean habitats that have been or are on the verge of being destroyed, and ways that are being used to protect marine life that is being encroached upon by humans. There is just so much information to be found here, all explained in short, readable text accompanied by ample amounts of the most visually captivating photographs we've all come to appreciate from National Geographic. Additional information is included in "Bet You Didn't Know" sidebars, as well as suggestions for how young people can help, an extensive Glossary, suggestions for finding out more about the different topics covered in this book, and finally, there is a list of places to visit. All in all, this is a book that will be referenced again and again, and a great addition of any child's bookshelf, as well as classrooms and libraries. 

Science Encyclopedia: Atom Smashing, Food Chemistry, 
Animals, Space, and More! by National Geographic Kids
National Geographic Kids, 2016, 304 pages, age 8+
Science is really such a broad subject covering a multitude of different areas, and science, according to this book, is all around us. After answering the question What is Science? this book go on to explore the two contrasting areas of Physical Science and Life Science. Physical Science covers everything from atoms to light, which would include Matter, Forces and Machines, Energy, and, especially near and dear to a kid's heart, Electronics. Each page has an abundance of information, safe and easy experiments for kids to try, and there is even an LOL section with topic specific jokes, for example: Q. Why can't you trust an atom? A. Because they make up everything. So if your kids want to know why that is funny, they need only read the section on Atoms. Or if they wonder why they don't go spinning of into space, they can find the answer in the Gravity section, and even meet the man who brought gravity to the forefront, Albert Einstein. 

The Life Science section is basically set up the same way as the Physical Science section, but covers all life forms in the universe. Starting big, kids will learn what the big bang theory really is, all about galaxies, stars, constellations, and planets, finally arriving at life on earth. Here, there are sections about how life began, how to classify living things, followed by earth's living things, from microbes, to plants to the wide variety of living creatures, then on to man and his biology. The science of earth itself is also covered - important timely topics like climate, conservation, biomes and more.  There is an extensive glossary as well as a section for kids wanting to find out more. Each page is chockablock with information accompanied by absolutely exquisite photographs (I wouldn't be surprised if more than one reader looks at all of these books and considers taking up photography). This is another book that will please both the budding scientist and the merely curious reader, not to mention their parents (myself included).   

How Things Work by T.J. Resler
National Geographic Kids, 2016, 208 pages, age 10+
Have your kids ever wondered how the microwave heats that after school Hot Pocket they can't wait to eat? See pages 60-61. Or how their teacher made so many copies of the same test that they forgot to study for? Pages 94-99 may not help them with their test, but it will explain the mechanics of a copy machine. Or have they ever asked you why the roller coaster they are speeding along in doesn't just dump everyone on to the ground below?  See pages 122-29. These and so many other mysteries are explained to kids, often with humor, in simple terms, with illustrations, photographs, diagrams, trivia and even Try This! suggestions readers can do to more fully understand the principles being explained. There is also a Glossary and a Find Out More section with suggestions for the super curious reader. This is most definitely not like the dry science-y books of my youth, but a very up-to-date, very savvy book that is sure to please every kid from the budding scientist to the not so science minded, simply because there is something of interest for everyone in it. How Things Work is a great addition to a child's personal library, and would also be a great addition to any classroom library as well as home schooling situations.

Factastic: A Lego Adventure in the Real World
Scholastic, 2016, 176 pages, age 8+
Join your favorite Lego minifigures for a whirlwind tour of the universe, all done in small bites. Beginning with It's History, kids learn about people beginning at the beginning with cave dwellers through to Native Americans and even the Statue of Liberty. Then, they have a visit with Heroes and Villains, both real and imagined, and find out why they chose the good or evil path they followed. Afterward, they can explore the physical make-up of the earth from rocks, volcanoes, and earthquakes to extreme weather in the chapters under Earth is Awesome. Home on Earth looks at all the different habitats earth's creatures call home sweet home. From there, discover inventions, cool vehicles, sports stuff, and other cool things.  Each page is full of facts, photographs, illustrations and interesting trivia and each topic has its appropriate Lego minifigure to guide the reader along.  Kids who love Legos (are there any kids who don't love Legos?) will enjoy this fun, imaginative factual trip through time and space and will surely learn a few things along the way.

That's it for today, but watch this space for more gift book suggestions, perfect for some last minute shopping and remember,

1 comment:

  1. My kids would LOVE all of these! My daughter would love the Ocean best and my son would prefer the Legos. :)


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