Best of the Best Science Titles

Our team recently had the opportunity to do a presentation on some of the best books of 2015 at a conference for librarians and educators. We get to do this each year at this time, and a lot of work and care goes into selecting titles. We agonize when we need to “cut” a title and wish we had even more time to talk about great books. However, we end up with a fantastic group of titles, and I wanted to share three of my favorites from the secondary science presentation here:

Bioluminesce (cover)Bioluminescence by Marc Zimmer. 9781467757843. 2015. Gr. 7-12.

Just by looking at this book’s cover, you can see that it is extraordinary. The evolutionary adaptation of bioluminescence is an amazing one, made even more amazing when you think about how it came about through small incremental changes in DNA proteins over millions of years. And on a much less “science-y” level, who can’t help be amazed by a firefly pulsing in the dark or a glowing ocean creature against the stark darkness of the deep ocean?

This title describes how bioluminescence developed, but also goes into how animals use it and interesting ways in which modern scientists are using it. For example, they are using bioluminescence to see how individual brain cells fire, how injecting mosquitoes with fluorescence can help track the spread of malaria, and much more.

Debunk it! (cover)Debunk It!: How to Stay Sane in a World of Misinformation by John Grant. 9781936976683. 2015. Gr. 9-Adult.

After I finished reading this one, I thought to myself that it is this sort of title that needs to be required reading for our high school students. In an era in which social media and cable news do not always provide the most accurate and unbiased information, this book tries to cut through all of the misinformation and give a clear picture on many controversial issues.

Discussed here are topics such as the truth about the Holocaust, climate change, alternative medicine, conspiracy theories, and more. One of the educational challenges of our time is fostering critical thinking and informational literacy skills in our students, and this book helps to do just that.

Extraordinary People (cover)Extraordinary People by Michael Hearst. 9781452127095. 2015. Gr. 5-8.

This title is difficult to pigeonhole, and that to me is one of its strengths. This is really more of a collective biography title, but does contain a number of scientific figures like Marie Curie, George Washington Carver, and Nikola Tesla. The author’s only criteria for inclusion is that the people selected had to be extraordinary in some way. So, the result is this wonderfully eclectic mix of people. Luminaries like the aforementioned Marie Curie end up rubbing elbows with the likes of Evil Knievel, Mr. Rogers, and Larry the guy who attached balloons to a lawn chair and took flight!

The format is equally interesting, as facts and silliness share space on each page. For example, we learn that Marie Curie drove an X-ray truck around WWI battlefields to treat injuries, and that is followed with a two-stanza humorous poem that is sort of an ode to Madame Curie! This is an extremely fun and informative book.

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