Science Heroes

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, at least according to a recent Hot Topics list we created, but I can’t think of better heroes for kids than scientists.  Here are a few new titles that just may convince your students that science is a great adventure.

Rachel Carson, a pioneering environmentalist, took on the chemical industry in her book, Silent Spring.  She bravely spoke out against the damage that chemicals had been doing to our earth and animal life at a time when no one wanted to talk about it.  When Silent Spring was published in 1962, it became a national best-seller and sparked a public outcry as people realized for the first time what was happening as a result of the overuse of pesticides and other chemicals.  Laurie Lawlor and Laura Beingessner create an inspiring story in their picture book biography, Rachel Carson and Her Book that Changed the World.

Sylvia Earle was as interested in nature as Rachel Carson was, but her interest took her in a very particular place: underwater.  She discovered the wonders of the underwater world as a child when her family moved to coastal Florida, and she never stopped wanting to know more about sea life and do more for them.  In Life in the Ocean, Claire A. Nivola brings Earle’s love of the sea truly alive with striking illustrations next to inspiring text.

“When you next look out over the ocean, stop to think of the vast mountains, valleys, and plains below its surface.  Think of how it breathes and gives us life.  And think of all the wondrous creatures it holds in its waters—from whales, to busy, colorful coral reefs, to those living firework displays that light up the cold black waters of its mysterious depths.”

You won’t be able to see the ocean in the same way after reading this book.

In 1934, Ruth Harkness had never seen a panda bear.  She’d never been to China, and she’d certainly never been on an expedition into any kind of wilderness.  She was a fashion designer, who lived in New York City—hardly the sort of person you would expect to be an explorer.  Her husband was the explorer in the family, and he was the one on a mission to bring a panda back from China.  But when he died on the expedition, Ruth decided to continue the expedition herself.  Mrs. Harkness wasn’t a scientist, but by bringing the panda back from China, she made a significant contribution to zoology that shaped American attitudes toward wildlife.  Melissa Sweet’s illustrations create a strong sense of time and place that make Mrs. Harkness and the Panda great for history or social studies classrooms.

Once you have your students excited about science, don’t miss the chance to show them how they can be a part of it—right now!   Citizen Scientists has all the information and inspiration to get kids contributing to real scientific projects just by observing the natural world with their fresh perspectives and reporting their results.  This engaging book is a particularly great resource for classes studying butterflies, birds, or frogs, but nature lovers of all sorts will appreciate the opportunity to be part of something big.  With this book, we can all be science heroes!


Citizen Scientists: Be a Part of Scientific Discovery by Loree Griffin Burns. February 2012. 9780805090628. Gr 3-6.

Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle by Claire A. Nivola. March 2012. 9780374380687. Gr 2-5.

Mrs. Harkness and the Panda by Alicia Potter. March 2012. 9780375944482.  Gr K-3.

Rachel Carson and Her Book that Changed the World by Laurie Lawlor. February 2012. 9780823423705. Gr 2-5.

Blogger: Mindy R.