Posts Tagged book clubs

STEM Tuesday — Astronomy/ Eclipse — In the Classroom


What an incredible time to be a young scientist! Yesterday’s total solar eclipse was an exciting and memorable event for students (and adults) across the country. Interest in learning about about eclipses and astronomy in general is at a high. Thankfully, there are a plethora of incredible books on these subjects that students can read and enjoy. These books can be used as a springboard for classroom discussions and activities.


Can’t Get Enough Space Stuff: Fun Facts, Awesome Info, Cool Games, Silly Jokes, and More! by Julie Beer and Stephanie Warren Drimmer
This highly browsable book is sure to become an instant hit with your students. Chock full of interesting facts, such as the moon isn’t round; it’s egg-shaped, 1 Venus day is equal to 5,832 hours, and astronauts’ sense of taste weakens in space, students will be eager to share these fun tidbits with their friends. And the silly space jokes will have your students laughing out loud!
Classroom Activity: After reading about it, have your students take a virtual tour of the International Space Station. Or, watch this video with NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins and Victor Glover as they offer viewers a tour of the ISS.
The Day the Universe Exploded My Head: Poems to Take You Into Space and Back Again by Allan Wolf, illustrated by Anna Raff
This collection of silly and informative poems will surely keep budding astronomers engaged. Personified planets abound, and many of the poems are meant to be read aloud in two voices. The illustrations are stunning and perfectly complement the text. The back matter includes a detailed glossary of selected space terms and notes on each of the poems.
Classroom Activity: Have students reflect on their experiences with the April 8, 2024, total solar eclipse. If they saw it firsthand, they can draw upon their memories. If not, have them watch a video, such as Totality in Fredericksburg, to get an idea of what it was like. Then, have students create their own solar eclipse poems.
Casting Shadows: Solar and Lunar Eclipses with The Planetary Society by Bruce Betts, PhD
This traditional nonfiction text provides a general overview of solar and lunar eclipses. Readers will learn the differences between the two types of eclipses, when they occur, and how to watch them. This book is perfect for students who were fascinated by the total solar eclipse and are looking for more straightforward information. The accompanying photographs bring these incredible phenomena to life.
Classroom Activity: Today, we know that solar eclipses are caused by shadows. But in the past, people viewed them as omens of death and destruction. Have your students research the history of solar eclipses.
  • Where did the word “eclipse” come from?
  • When was the first solar eclipse on record?
  • Who are the following people and what is their relation to eclipses?
    • Chinese astronomer Liu Hsiang
    • Greek philosopher Plutarch
    • Byzantine historian Leo Diaconus
    • astronomer Johannes Kepler
    • Edmund Halley


Hopefully, these books and activities will inspire students to continue learning more about astronomy and eclipses long after the excitement surrounding the April 8, 2024, total solar eclipse fades.



Jenna Grodziki

Jenna Grodzicki is the author of more than twenty-five fiction and nonfiction children’s books. Her books include Wild Style: Amazing Animal Adornments (Millbrook Press 2020) and I See Sea Food: Sea Creatures That Look Like Food (Millbrook Press 2019), the winner of the 2020 Connecticut Book Award in the Young Readers Nonfiction Category. Jenna lives near the beach with her husband and two children. In addition to being a writer, she is also a library media specialist at a K-4 school. To learn more, visit her website at

STEM Tuesday — Astronomy/ Eclipse — Book List

This is an active month for sky-watchers. Not only will the “Great North American Eclipse” happen on April 8, but the night sky will feature a comet that you should be able to view without a telescope.

Eclipse Chaser: Science in the Moon’s Shadow (Scientist in the Field) by Ilima Loomis, photos by Amanda Cowan

This is a story about the last “Great North American Eclipse” – August 2017 – and how a science team studies eclipses. Not only do they have to find the best place for observing the event, they have a lot of instruments to set up and test prior to the day. Plus, a bagel production line on the morning of the Big Day.

Casting Shadows: Solar and Lunar Eclipses with The Planetary Society by Bruce Betts

This book uses straightforward language aimed at younger middle grade readers. Beginning with shadows, it then shows how eclipses happen and how you can observe them. One chapter focuses on lunar eclipses and one on solar eclipses.

The Science Behind the Wonders of the Sun: Sun dogs, Lunar Eclipses, and Green Flash by Suzanne Garbe

This is also a lower middle grade text discussing the cause and cycle of sunspots, solar and lunar eclipses, solar winds, flares, and ejections, As well as the reason for, and places to find, the green (and rarer blue) flash. Photo illustrated, it also includes fascinating “fact sidebars,” a link to activities, and critical thinking questions.

Astronomy for Curious Kids: An Illustrated Introduction to the Solar System, Our Galaxy, Space Travel – and More! by Giles Sparrow

This browsable book is divided into six chapters, each highlighting some aspect of astronomy. The first two introduce the study of astronomy and tools astronomers use. Others focus on the solar system, stars, and galaxies. There’s a great spread on eclipses and another showcasing comets, plus a section about life in the universe.

Can’t Get Enough Space Stuff: Fun Facts, Awesome Info, Cool Games, Silly Jokes, and More! by Julie Beer and Stephanie Warren Drimmer (National Geographic)

Another browsable astronomy book with engaging photos, a matching game glossary, space puns and riddles, space guessing games, a plethora of amazing facts, “Rad Records” on planets and astronauts, and lots of activities to try.

Sky Gazing: A Guide to the Moon, Sun, Planets, Stars, Eclipses, Constellations by Meg Thacher

A browsable book, divided into sections that focus on the sky, the moon, the sun, planets, and stars and constellations. Each section includes activities, including how to make a pinhole eclipse-viewer and there is a list of upcoming solar and lunar eclipses through 2030.

Stargazing for Kids: An Introduction to Astronomy by Jonathan Poppele

This handy hand-held guide is a wonderful color introduction to astronomy and the observation and mapping of the night sky. Conversational “What can I see?’ and “How do we know?” sections offer ways to spot the planets, stars, galaxies, and satellites. In addition to mini biographies of scientists and scholars, it offers a detailed sky map and guide for each season.

Asteroid vs Comet by Dr. Marc Kuchner, illustrated by Matt Schu

This book is aimed at younger MG readers, written as a fight match with sections that compare and contrast various properties of asteroids and comets. Who’s heavier? Who’s the fastest? And who will come out the winner? End pages feature named asteroids and comets and back mater gets into more details about comets and asteroids.

Out Of This World: Star-Studded Haiku by Sally M. Walker; illustrated by Matthew Trueman

Yes, there IS a haiku about a solar eclipse (with tiny nibbles / the moon gobbles down the sun …) There are also tiny poems about Saturn’s rings, nebulae, and shooting stars. Plus, wonderful back matter. This book will inspire readers to create their own eclipse (or comet) haiku.

The Day the Universe Exploded my Head: Poems to Take You Into Space and Back Again by Allan Wolf, illustrated by Anna Raff

From a “Solar Sunnet” (sonnet) to a “Poem for Three Meteors,” and a black hole shape poem to “The Children of Astronomy” (with their profiles outlined by stars), whimsical illustrations make learning poetry forms and space facts fun. Includes fun side by side solar and lunar eclipse poems, as well as “Notes on the Poems” with additional scientific facts and information on the various poems.

When the Sun Goes Dark by Andrew Fraknoi, illustrated by Eric Freeberg

This story, published by the National Science Teacher’s Association, uses fiction to introduce young people to the science behind eclipses. It includes some hands-on activities for re-creating eclipses in your living room using a lamp, a tennis ball, and a couple hula hoops.

This month’s STEM Tuesday book list was prepared by:

Sue Heavenrich, author

Sue Heavenrich, who writes about science for children and their families on topics ranging from space to backyard ecology. Bees, flies, squirrel behavior—things she observes in her neighborhood and around her home—inspire her writing. Visit her at

Maria Marshall, a children’s author, blogger, and poet who is passionate about making nature and reading fun for children. When not writing, critiquing, or reading, she watches birds, travels the world, bakes, and hikes. Visit her at

STEM Tuesday — Animal Perceptions– Book List

Animals see the world differently from humans. Check out this list of middle grade books that explore various ways in which animals perceive, sense, and communicate.

Detector Dogs, Dynamite Dolphins, and Other Animals with Super Sensory Powers Detector Dogs, Dynamite Dolphins, and More Animals with Super Sensory Powers:  Giaimo, Cara, Couch, Christina, Duncan, Daniel: 9781536229530: Books -
by Cara Giaimo, Christina Couch, and Daniel Duncan


This book features an array of different animals that use their “super” senses,from echolocation to electroreception to help humans tackle real-world problems like pollution and global warming. Examples include Cynthia, a pipe-fixing ferret, and Rosita, a goat who helps prevent wildfires. Each chapter features a different animal and also provides guided experiments for young, curious minds.



How to Talk to a Tiger…and Other Animals: How Critters Communicate in the Wild
by Jason Bittel and Kelsey Buzzell


What do skunks, blue-ringed octopuses, and ladybugs have in common? They all use aposematic coloration, or warning colors, to communicate with other animals! Every page of this colorful book is packed with fun facts about how animals talk to each other using sights, sounds, smells, tastes, electrosenses, and touch. This browseable book groups animals by their special communication styles, including dancing, singing, playing dead, and even urinating.


Cat Eyes & Dog Whistles: The Seven Senses of Humans and Other Animals
by Cathy Evans and Becky Thorns


This book takes a look at human perception and shows how we don’t have five senses, we have seven. We’re constantly trying to interpret the world around us as highly sensitive receptor cells in our eyes, ears, noses, tongues and skin relay messages to the brain. This book compares our senses with various animals and examines how they differ. Fascinating facts are paired with animated illustrations to engage children.



Sensational Senses: Amazing Ways Animals Perceive the World
by Rebecca E. Hirsch


From star-nosed moles to Japanese sea catfish, each of the eight chapters in this book dives deep into the amazing sensory abilities of a different animal. Hirsch’s clear text combines with eye-popping photographs to show readers how these extraordinary animals can sense things in the world that are hidden to humans.


When Elephants Listen with their Feet: Discover Extraordinary Animal Senses
by Emmanuelle Grundmann and Clemence Dupont


Accessible and often humorous text is paired with informational sidebars and inviting art to encourage budding biologists. This book offers a comprehensive study of the senses, and how animals use them to communicate, feel, and interact with the world around them. Examples include birds that can feel the Earth’s magnetic field and fish that use electricity.


Sound: Shh…Bang…POP…BOOM!
by  Romana Romanyshyn and Andriy Lesiv


This beautifully unique picture book explores the history, science, and culture of sound, from the oldest sound in the Universe (the Big Bang) to the loudest animals on Earth (a toss-up between the giant sperm whale and the tiny tiger pistol shrimp). Along the way, readers will learn key physics concepts and meet animals that hear the world differently from humans. Don’t miss the companion book, Sight: Glimmer, Glow, Spark, Flash! 


Beastly Brains: How Animals Think, Talk, and Feel
by Nancy Castaldo


Castaldo delves into the minds of animals like dolphins, dogs, and elephants to explore animal empathy, communication, tool use, and lifestyle through interviews and historical anecdotes. The book also mentions research from some great minds, such as Charles Darwin and Jane Goodall, regarding the behavior of animals and revolutionizes old theories through the lens of modern science.



How to Speak Animal: A Guide to Learning How Animals Communicate
by Aubre Andrus and Gabby Wild


This opening of this book contains a fact-filled introduction to animal senses, followed by more than 60 different profiles of creatures from around the world. Using photographs, icons, and pop-outs (plus a fun, interactive quiz!), it showcases the many wild ways animals communicate with each other. Other books in this National Geographic series include How to Speak Dog and How to Speak Cat. 


Beyond Words series
by Carl Safina


This series is a young reader’s adaptation of The New York Times bestseller. It follows researcher Carl Safina as he journeys across the world to track and monitor various animals. This excellent, documentary-style account will encourage children to think more about their own feelings and the feelings of others while reading about the natural world and its remarkable wonders.




Making Sense of Dog Senses: How our Furry Friends Experience the World
by Stephanie Gibeault and Raz Latif (releases April 2024)


This book dives deep into anatomy to explore the “why” behind strange (and gross) dog habits, like drinking from the toilet, sniffing fire hydrants, and eating poop. Each chapter is packed with interesting facts and explanations, colorful illustrations and diagrams, and activities to test out your own senses. Readers will finish this book with a greater understanding and appreciation for our canine friends.


This month’s STEM Tuesday book list was prepared by:

Author Lydia Lukidis


Lydia Lukidis is the author of 50+ trade and educational books for children. Her titles include DANCING THROUGH SPACE: Dr. Mae Jemison Soars to New Heights (Albert Whitman, 2024), DEEP, DEEP, DOWN: The Secret Underwater Poetry of the Mariana Trench (Capstone, 2023) and THE BROKEN BEES’ NEST (Kane Press, 2019) which was nominated for a Cybils Award. A science enthusiast from a young age, she now incorporates her studies in science and her everlasting curiosity into her books. Another passion of hers is fostering a love for children’s literacy through the writing workshops she regularly offers in elementary schools across Quebec with the Culture in the Schools program. For more information, please visit


author Callie Dean


Callie Dean is a researcher, writer, and musician living in Shreveport, LA. She writes stories that spark curiosity and encourage kids to explore their world. For more information, please visit