Perfect new non-fiction? Yes, perfect! It is hard to fault these two new titles from b small publishing, an award winning small publisher specialising in creative, educational titles with high child appeal. I can wholeheartedly recommend both of these books for primary age readers.
Think Like a Scientist by Susan Martineau designed and illustrated by Vicky Barker
Over the last two years we have all witnessed how important it is for scientific facts to be readily available and communicated clearly for both adults and children. Misinformation and misunderstanding, rumour and scaremongering have been witnessed by, and have affected, many. Developing the skills to read, assess and discuss scientific information is vital and will enable children to navigate the often daunting amount of detail available.
Think Like a Scientist uses real life examples, illustrations, practical ideas and explanations of terms to make the world of science both accessible and exciting. The book opens with questions familiar to many young readers and then moves on to explain what scientists “actually do” and gradually expands to science in the news, the language used by scientists, ethics and the science of the imagination.
The presentation is extremely appealing. Each double page spread incorporates text boxes, infographics, a helpful ‘words to know’ section and an activity to try all in in clear typeface and bright colour. The tips about how to assess the validity of surveys and ‘how to read like a scientist’ are frankly useful for adults too. There is a large amount of information packed into this book’s thirty two pages and it is a book that a child could return to often. The activities are suitable for both home and school giving Think Like a Scientist a wider appeal.
The book ends with a useful glossary of the scientific terms used throughout, answers to the activity questions and a final guide on how to Be a Scientist! This is a brilliant package of a book that children will enjoy but will also benefit from reading.
The Histronauts: A Greek Adventure by Dr Frances Durkin illustrated by Grace Cooke
The Histronauts series is a great way to bring history to life for children. Time travelling children visit a place in history and through the experiences of an ordinary citizen of the time learn what life was like for people then. This information is presented in a graphic novel format heightening the appeal to young readers. The facts are interspersed with activities to try providing an additional learning experience for children. This a series that manages to be both educational and entertaining.
The Histronauts are three children of slightly different ages and with a range of interests accompanied by their cat. The make up of the group is clever allowing the story to diverge to different areas according to each individual child’s motivation and Hero the cat can go to places and do things that the children may not be able or allowed to. This style of presentation allows the reader to learn alongside the three children as they accompany them on their adventure. The voices of Newton, Luna and Nani also allow contemporary comment and attitudes to be included on historical subjects that may have different perceptions today.
In A Greek Adventure the children meet a stage designer so their immersion in history begins in the amphitheatre in Athens and alongside their new friend they learn about the Olympic Games, the Great Dionysia Festival, Greek mythology, Ancient Greek family life and much more. There is a staggering number of facts and detailed information included within this graphic novel and yet this is fun and accessible. Visual literacy is an important skill and there is information contained in the illustrations that is not in the text, children are encouraged to linger and look.
The activities include recipes and instructions on how to decorate a skyphos pot, weaving plus puzzles to solve. A great deal of effort has clearly been made to engage young readers while they learn, for example there is a word search using the Greek alphabet, instructions on how to play the ancient game of petteia are accompanied by a grid so the reader is able to have a go. This book is an excellent addition to a series that will encourage children to investigate history further and can also simply be read for pleasure.
I should like to thank the publishers, b small publishing, for providing my review copies. Both books are now available to be purchased via their website or through Bookshop.org by clicking on the titles above.
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Think Like a Scientist appeals to me as an adult, let alone a child! Perhaps a title for me to look out for and then maybe acquire copies as presents for the younger grandchildren…
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Definitely! As a school librarian I was constantly having to stress to children the importance of checking the validity of the information that they used. This book explains why in a child friendly way.
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I love the look of Think Like A Scientist, thanks for bringing it to my attention Anne. I read Question Everything by the same team last year and think they have managed the balance between engagement and education perfectly. We have a shelf full of books on critical appraisal of scientific papers in my hospital library and it’s wonderful to see that a simplified version has been produced for a younger audience.
I’m glad it will be useful fir you, Veronica. This particular publisher has, I think, achieved an excellent balance between making the books engaging and encouraging learning. The other plus is as they are relatively small paperbacks they are more affordable than some of the other excellent, but rather more expensive, nonfiction available. Perfect for the very many children who enjoy reading nonfiction for pleasure too.
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