Fungi are all around us – in the yard, clinging to branches and tree trunks, and sometimes in the back of the fridge. Scientists are discovering new fungi every year … it’s a mushrooming field.
Funky Fungi: 30 Activities for Exploring Molds, Mushrooms, Lichens, and More by Alisha Gabriel and Sue Heavenrich
The engaging narrative, which masterfully incorporates the science of mycology, is brimming with cool facts (like making shoes from fungi) and tons of fun STEAM activities and experiments – beginning with the creation of a “FUNgus” journal. It’s intriguing sidebars, stunning photographs, illustrations, and graphs, and scientist highlights make this a fun read with something for everyone kid and adult alike.
It’s a Fungus Among Us: The Good, the Bad & the Downright Scary by Carla Billups & Dawn Cusick
Fungi come in so many shapes, sizes, and colors. Some are good: they’re a food source for wildlife, they help clean up pollution, and trees depend on them to share water and food with others. We even eat fungi and use some as medicine. Other fungi cause food rot and disease. And some turn animals into zombies!
Forest Talk: How Trees Communicate by Melissa Koch
Trees share more than water and nutrients. They share information through an underground network made up of fungi. It’s called the Wood Wide Web for good reason; it’s as complex as our internet. Aimed at older readers.
The Mushroom Fan Club by Elise Gravel
Light-hearted, with comic illustrations, this book will charm readers into clamoring for a nature walk to find mushrooms. The author introduces two essential rules of mushroom-looking (protect their environment and don’t eat them!) and introduces major mushroom players.
Fungarium: Welcome to the Museum by Ester Gaya, illustrated by Katie Scott
A stunning, oversized book organized like a museum guide with “galleries” on fungal biology (reproduction and spores), diversity, interactions (Mycorrhizas and termites), and their relationship with humans (pathogens, edible, and pharmaceutical). In addition to engaging facts, vividly detailed images, there are three gorgeous ecosystem illustrations featuring the connection and interactions of fungous within mountains, temperate forests, and tropical forests.
Humongous Fungus: The Weird and Wonderful Kingdom of Fungi by Lynne Boddy, illustrated by Wenjia Tang
Like most DK books, this is a feast for visual learners and those who love pages full of factoids. It examines the life cycle of numerous fungus (mushrooms, lichen, mold, moss), their effect and relationship to nature and humans (both beneficial and harmful), and even fungus wars.
Fungi: Colorful Clean-Up Crews (Tell Me More! Science) by Ruth Owen
A quick introduction to fungi for curious kids at a second-grade reading level. From fungus basics to their job cleaning up dead stuff, and how they contribute to the ecosystem
The Book of Fungi: A Life-Size Guide to Six Hundred Species from around the World by Roberts, Peter and Shelley Evans
Perfect for browsing, this book is as advertised: filled with life-sized photos of mushrooms, plus descriptions and range maps. Written for adults, but a treasure for kids who love to peruse field guides – if you can find it at your library.
Every now and then we come across a picture book perfect for the 8-10 crowd. This month we found two.
Mushroom Rain by Laura K. Zimmerman
From what they smell like to who eats them, this is a fun introduction to the diverse and sometimes bizarre world of mushrooms. Older readers will enjoy the information at the back, including how mushrooms can cause rain.
Rotten Pumpkin by David Schwartz
This book shows how fungi help decompose a pumpkin after it’s happy life as a jack-o-lantern. Great photos of fuzzy mold.
This month’s STEM Tuesday book list was prepared by:
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 www.sueheavenrich.com
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 www.mariacmarshall.com