There is no better way to get to know a publishing season than to present at a conference about the newest in children’s books. As a result of my part of a presentation about summer and fall titles that tie in with K-8 curriculum at the MEMO conference two Fridays ago, I feel like I have a pretty good feel for the science and math titles recently released. A few themes I noticed:
- Guessing games. There is a new one in the Looking Closely series and a new one from the author of Where in the Wild? I also featured a new series in which kids can guess a mystery zoo animal. David Larochelle has a very unique book that tests math and observation. Another book has kids guessing fractions. My favorite of the guessing games, though, was I Feel Better With a Frog in My Throat. Which historical cures worked and which didn’t? Fascinating.
- From legend to science. History is full of warnings like “here there be dragons” or monsters or whatever. But those warnings really came alive in The Mystery of the Komodo Dragon and Here There Be Monsters. The latter was particularly engaging. One of my favorites from the presentation easily. I think what I liked best about these titles was the similarity to the “Scientists in the Field” series (there was one of those in the presentation as well). I really like learning how scientists do their work.
- Perspective. How much do animals eat? Just how big are they? How am I different from them? There were several great books that compare animals to each other or to humans to put it all into perspective for kids. The best of these, by far, is Steve Jenkins’ newest: Bones. As I pointed out in my presentation, this book could be used in a science class (obviously) but also in a math class to discuss scale. Plus, it’s just great to browse.
- Seeds and Plants. I feel like last season had an emphasis on agriculture, and these titles were still trickling in this season. I included Who Will Plant a Tree? and Seed, Soil, Sun in my presentation. The latter having local interest here in Minnesota since the author is from Wisconsin and the photographer lives in the Twin Cities. There were a couple of other titles on this topic that didn’t quite make it in the presentation.
The hardest part of the presentation was choosing the books. By which I mean, cutting down the massive list of books the three of us had initially chosen. Forty-five minutes seems like a good amount of time, but it is only about a hundred books. We, of course, could talk about books all day. In all those books, though, there were still some blank spots in my spreadsheet. I could have used more math books at the 3-5 level. I would also have loved to include a few books about human anatomy or nutrition. And where were all the space/astronomy books? I’ll be looking for them next season.