Posts Tagged middle-grade nonfiction

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.

 

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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 www.jennagrodzicki.com.

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 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.

April Showers New Books on Middle-Grade Readers!

It’s raining awesome new middle-grade titles for young readers! This month’s releases include fantasy, adventures, a memoir, a fun creative art book, fascinating book on the octopus, and a collection of stories from award-winning authors. Check them out!

The Deadlands: Survival by Skye Melki-Wegner, Henry Holt Books, April 2.

Wings of Fire meets Jurassic Park in the thrilling finale of this action-adventure series about five outcasts—and former enemies—who are the only hope to save their warring dinosaur kingdoms from impending doom.As bloody battle rages between the two surviving dinosaur kingdoms, Eleri and the other young exiles—including a peppy stegosaur, a stoic sauropod, a testy triceratops, and a mysterious spy—have temporarily thwarted the Carrion Kingdom, a conniving cabal of carnivores, and destroyed their secret stronghold.

Fearing that their cunning enemies will soon regroup and seek vengeance, the exiles must risk their lives by returning home to unite and lead the war-torn herds that turned their backs on them into one final, all-out battle for the very future of the land of Cretacea. Will they convince their kingdoms to follow them into battle against the true enemy, or will Cretacea be overrun by an army of predators?

Running in Flip-Flops From the End of the World, by justin a. reynolds, Scholastic, April 2

A hilarious middle-grade from justin a. reynolds that asks: What happens when five unsupervised kids face the apocalypse under outrageously silly circumstances?

When twelve-year-old Eddie Gordon Holloway and his friends are left home from Beach Bash, aka the greatest party of the year, only to realize that everyone in town has disappeared without a trace, they do what any smart, responsible kids would do . . . have the best day ever!

No parental supervision sounds fun for a while, but forever is a long time. And soon the gang starts to notice strange things happening around town, and they’re only getting stranger. They have to figure out what happened to their families. It seems like getting to the beach will answer all their questions . . . but the only problem is that some mysterious force seems determined to prevent them from making it there.

Eddie knows that this is a clear sign — obviously they should be focused on having as much fun as possible for as long as possible. But everyone deals with the fear differently, and soon the friendships begin to fracture. Can Eddie find a way to get all his friends on the same page? And will they ever make it to the beach?

Lightning Born (Storm Dragons Book 1) by Julie Kagawa, Disney Hyperion, April 2

In a world in the clouds where only the rich own dragons, a poor boy named Remy finds a wild baby dragon–believed to be extinct–and becomes the focus of an evil pirate’s vengeance.

REMY spends his days trying to survive the mean streets of Cutthroat Wedge–one of the many islands floating in the gravitational pull of the magical Maelstrom raging below. But his life changes forever when a violent storm brings a baby dragon to his doorstep, and he feels a bond he has never felt with anyone. Remy names the dragon Storm and vows to protect this new friend, no matter the cost.

GEM longs for the day when she call herself a true mage. That is, if she can convince her teachers and peers that just because she’s a princess doesn’t mean she’s lazy and spoiled. But when Gem learns that the floating islands that make up her kingdom are rapidly sinking into the Maelstrom, she makes it her mission to save her world. Against the king’s wishes, she accesses forbidden research and discovers the secret to saving humanity may lie in a True Dragon–a dragon capable of intelligent thought and able to cast and use magic. But True Dragons are extinct . . . aren’t they?

Remy’s and Gem’s lives will never be the same when their fates collide, thanks to Storm. With an evil pirate mage named Jhaeros determined to claim the rare dragon for himself, the two must learn to trust in each other as they team up with a shifty pirate captain and her crew, stand together against impossible odds, and embark on the adventure of a lifetime.

Make Art With Nature: Find Inspiration and Materials from Nature, by Pippa Pixley, DK Publishing, April 9

Artist Pippa Pixley shows children how to make amazing art with materials found in nature in this hands-on book.

Get creative and make incredible pieces of art using rocks, wood, berries, flowers, and leaves in this nature craft book for children.

Find out how the very earth beneath your feet can be used to make paints and pastels, and how flowers can be repurposed to create inks. Children can learn how to pour paint onto a canvas, how to put pencil to paper and draw, how bits of old paper can make a beautiful collage, and how different mediums can come together to create incredible prints through nature.

Three Summers: A Memoir of Sisterhood, Summer Crushes, and Growing Up on the Eve of War, Written by Amra Sabic-El-Rayess and Laura L. Sullivan, Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, April 9

An epic middle-grade memoir about sisterhood and coming-of-age in the three years leading up to the Bosnian Genocide.

Three Summers is the story of five young cousins who grow closer than sisters as ethnic tensions escalate over three summers in 1980s Bosnia. They navigate the joys and pitfalls of adolescence on their family’s little island in the middle of the Una River. When finally confronted with the harsh truths of the adult world around them, their bond gives them the resilience to discover and hold fast to their true selves.

Written with incredible warmth and tenderness, Amra Sabic-El-Rayess takes readers on a journey that will break their hearts and put them back together again.

 

 

The Incredible Octopus: Meet the Eight-Armed Wonder of the Sea, by Erin Spencer, Storey Publishing, April 16

Packed with mesmerizing undersea photography, this book invites kids to explore the fascinating behavior and intelligence of this remarkable creature of the deep.

The Incredible Octopus combines amazing photos with in-depth facts to get kids aged 7 and up excited about octopuses and the underwater world in which they live. Readers are introduced to the fascinating biology of the octopus, from its 3 hearts and 9 brains to suction cups and how they work, and learn all about what it’s like to be an octopus: how they use camouflage and ink, what they eat, and how they reproduce (nests and eggs!). The book also explores the intelligence and playfulness of this animal–and, of course, the famous stories of octopuses who escaped their tanks. Readers will meet 13 different species of octopuses and find out what makes them unique, from the most venomous and best disguised to the deepest and coldest. They’ll also get a glimpse into exciting octopus research, technology inspired by octopuses, and ways to help conserve our oceans.

The Door is Open: Stories of Celebration and Community by 11 Desi Voices by Hena Khan,  Veera Hiranandani, Supriya Kelkar, Maulik Pancholy, Simran Jeet Singh, Aisha Saeed, Reem Faruqi, Rajani Larocca, Naheed Hasnat,  Sayantani Dasgupta, Mitali Perkins, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, April 23

Discover stories of fear, triumph, and spectacular celebration in the fictional town of Maple Grove, New Jersey, where the local kids gather at the community center to discover new crushes, fight against ignorance, and even save a life.

Cheer for Chaya as she wins chess tournaments (unlike Andrew, she knows stupid sugary soda won’t make you better at chess), and follow as Jeevan learns how to cook traditional food (it turns out he can cook sabji– he just can’t eat it).

These stories, edited by bestselling and award-winning Pakistani-American author Hena Khan, are filled with humor, warmth, and possibility. They showcase a diverse array of talented authors with heritage from the Indian subcontinent, including beloved favorites and rising stars, who each highlight the beauty and necessity of a community center that everyone calls home.