We seem to hear more and more about today’s kids struggling with math and science. It’s becoming a disconcerting fact about the American education system. Sometimes it seems kids aren’t inspired to enter the academic fields as they were a few decades ago. Now, much of their world exists on a TV or computer monitor. It’s how they learn about and engage with the world, a world they are less interested in becoming part of. While, as adults, we can’t snap our fingers and get kids excited about what the scientific community has to offer, there are a few classic books that still offer up plenty of thrills and inspiration, and are works capable of stoking the imagination of any child to get them excited for science.
At a recent family gathering, the subject of our favorite books came up. My nephew began to talk about books that had introduced him to new concepts and greater appreciation for various subjects in school. One book, in particular, had jump-started his interest in science, particularly paleontology. That book was Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. He first read it when he was 11, and while at the time not everything in the book made total sense (such as chaos theory), it fostered interest in a subject that he previously knew very little about. After reading it, he constantly wanted to visit museums and do absolutely whatever he could to learn more about dinosaurs and paleontology. For a while he was certain he’d be a paleontologist, just as he was once certain he’d be a marine biologist (but never a chaos theorist).
In the same vein as Jurassic Park, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is an epic Jules Verne tale. While it’s rarely scientifically accurate by 21st century standards, it delves into the imagination to cultivate interest in the world beneath the sea, including topics of exploration and marine biology and ecology. Readers encounter many fantastical elements, from the exotic locals to the various sea creatures not known to exist. In many ways, this book represents a voyage into the unknown, much like the ocean remains today, filled with mysteries waiting for young minds to discover.
From the depths of the sea, we turn our heads upward to the stars, then back to Earth as a Pale Blue Dot. The only nonfiction book in this brief collection, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future by Carl Sagan, takes readers on a cautious adventure. It reveals that we, as human beings, are not the center of the universe and we hold our fate in our own hands by the scientific choices we make as a civilization (and, as were constantly reminded, the only civilization known to exist in the universe). It’s these concepts, very grand and vast, that makes this book intriguing for young readers. It’s a reminder of who we are and what each of us is capable of, should we have the foresight to act.
The truly great thing about each of these three books is there accessibility. They weren’t necessarily written for children in mind, but children shouldn’t have any difficult grasping what they have to say. They’re all easy to read, while presenting advanced and complex concepts, making them perfect for follow up discussion. How do they impact both emotionally? Where do you want to go next to further explore the ideas these books have introduced What can we do to let the seeds of knowledge, excitement, and wonder, grow and flourish?
About the Author:
Maria Hughes is a children’s book enthusiast and online publisher for childrensbookstore.com. She enjoys blogging about reading and children’s books.
Tell us in a few words what you like about KidsGoals.com and what motivated you to contribute this article:
I’m passionate about literacy and education. I’m always looking for others who share in these attributes and enjoy discovering new resources to help get kids reading and, of course, learning. As I also write articles related to these subjects, I love to share what I’ve written and felt KidsGoals.com may be a great place to do just that.