Great Summer Reading for Kids

Looking for great books your kids will enjoy during the long, lazy days of summer? Here are the winners and finalists in each category of the 2017 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books. Sponsored by Subaru, the awards celebrate outstanding writing and illustration for children and young adults.

Children’s Science Picture Book:

THE WINNER!

Tooth by Tooth: Comparing Fangs, Tusks, and Chompers by Sara Levine (author) and T.S. Spookytooth (illustrator)

Tooth by Tooth: Comparing Fangs, Tusks, and Chompers
(Millbrook Picture Books)
by Sara Levine (author) and T.S. Spookytooth (illustrator)

What animal would you be if a few of your teeth grew so long that they stuck out of your mouth even when it was closed? What would you be if your top canine teeth grew almost all the way down to your feet? This picture book will keep you guessing as you read about how human teeth are like – and unlike – those of other animals.

Finalists:

Because of an Acorn, by Lola M. Schaefer  (author), Adam Schaefer (author), Frann Preston-Gannon (illustrator). Chronicle Books. 

A lovely early childhood introduction to the complexities of ecological relationships, centered around an acorn.

A Beetle is Shy, by Dianna Hutts Aston (author) and Sylvia Long (illustrator). Chronicle Books.

A well-illustrated picture book that utilizes colorful and lifelike artwork to highlight the diversity of form seen in beetles.

Grow! Raise! Catch!: How We Get Our Food, by Shelly Rotner (author & illustrator). Holiday House.

A breakdown of the farm-to-table process with bright, enticing photographs and accessible text for preschoolers and kindergarten students.

Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea: Marie Tharp Maps the Ocean Floor, by Robert Burleigh (author), Raúl Colón (illustrator). Simon & Schuster, Paula Wiseman Books. 

The story of female scientist, Marie Tharp, a pioneering woman scientist and the first person to ever successfully map the ocean floor, accompanied by gorgeous illustrations by acclaimed artist Raúl Colón.

Middle Grades Science Book:

THE WINNER!

Crow Smarts: Inside the Brain of the World's Brightest Bird by Pamela S. Turner (author) and Andy Comins (illustrator)

Crow Smarts: Inside the Brain of the World's Brightest Bird
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
by Pamela S. Turner (author) and Andy Comins (illustrator)

One of the biggest differences between humans and animals is the ability to understand the idea of “If I do X, Y might happen.” New Caledonian crows seem to possess the intelligence to understand this “causal” concept. Why do crows have this ability? What does the crow know and what does it tell us about brain size, the evolution of intelligence and just who is the smartest creature on the planet? In the latest addition to the Scientists in the Field series, the creators of The Frog Scientist take us to a beautiful Pacific island, where a lively cast of both crows and scientists is waiting to amuse and enlighten us.

Finalists:

Faster, Higher, Smarter: Bright Ideas That Transformed Sports, by Simon Shapiro. Annick Press.

A description of innovations that changed sports in many exciting ways, with well-executed illustrations that help make the scientific concepts easy for middle school readers to follow.

Fish Tricks: The Wild and Wacky World of Fish, by Haude Levesque. Moon Dance Press. 

A fascinating exploration of how fish use sound, color and chemicals to talk to each other, and camouflage and toxins to discourage predators.

Great Monkey Rescue: Saving the Golden Lion Tamarins, by Sandra Markle. Millbrook Press. 

A visually appealing look at the efforts to save the golden lion tamarins of Brazil in a story that demonstrates how observational research methods can solve a mystery and how new knowledge can spur positive action in the political and social arenas.

Hopping Ahead of Climate Change, by Sneed Collard III. Bucking Horse Press. 

This book combines beautiful pictures and captivating graphics with engaging writing to bring to life the story of how researchers are using the scientific method to help understand how climate change may impact snowshoe hares and the ecosystems that rely on them.

Hands-on Science Book:

THE WINNER!

Ricky's Atlas: Mapping a Land on Fire by Judith L. Li (author) and M.L. Herring (illustrator)

Ricky's Atlas: Mapping a Land on Fire
(Oregon State University Press)
by Judith L. Li (author) and M.L. Herring (illustrator)

Ricky Zamora brings his love of mapmaking and his boundless curiosity to the arid landscapes east of the Cascades Mountains. Joined by his friend Ellie, he sees how plants, animals and people adjust to life with wildfires. Upper elementary kids will enjoy the mixture of amazing adventures with actual historical, physical and ecological data about the region. Woven into the story are the small pleasures of ranch life, intriguing histories of Native Americans and early settlers, and almost unbelievable views of ancient fossils. Ricky and Ellie’s explorations, accompanied by their handwritten notes, introduce readers to a very special landscape and history east of the mountains.

Finalists:

Amazing (Mostly) Edible Science: A Family Guide to Fun Experiments in the Kitchen, by Andrew Schloss. Quarry Books.

A fun science book for the whole family, filled with more than 40 science experiments for kids that involve one of their favorite things – food.

Outdoor Science Lab for Kids, 52 Family-Friendly Experiments for the Yard, Garden, Playground, and Park, by Liz Lee Heinecke. Quarry Books. 

Contains 52 science experiments dealing with topics involving botany, physics, solar science and ecology, including enough slime, bugs and icky stuff to hold the interest of just about any curious kid.

Outside: A Guide to Discovering Nature, by Maria Ana Peixe Dias and Ines Teixeira do Rosario (authors) and Bernardo P. Carvalho (illustrator). Frances Lincoln Children's Books. 

Created in collaboration with a team of Portuguese experts, this book aims to arouse your curiosity about fauna, flora and other aspects of the natural world.

Recycled Science: Bring Out Your Science Genius with Soda Bottles, Potato Chip Bags, and More Unexpected Stuff, by Tammy Enz and Jodi Lyn Wheeler-Toppen. Capstone.

A collection of over 30 projects that use common household items to demonstrate scientific principles, with content ranging from physics, earth science, chemistry and biology. Projects range in complexity from a simple wooden chain to a flashlight, and many are quite clever in their design.

Treecology: 30 Activities and Observations for Exploring the World of Trees and Forests, by Monica Russo (author) and Kevin Byron (photographer). Chicago Review Press. 

An engaging and accessible hands-on science book for young readers, filled with activities ranging from the ordinary (counting tree rings to determine age) to the unique (creating “paint” bark to attract moths).  

Young Adult Science Book:

THE WINNER!

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Lab Girl
(Alfred A. Knopf)
by Hope Jahren

Reading Hope Jahren’s Lab Girl is almost like reading three books for the price of one. In addition to being a memoir by a three-time, Fulbright-winning geobiologist, it is also a fascinating tutorial on botany, paleontology and soil studies. Of even greater value to school- and college-age readers, as well as parents and teachers, is how well the author describes the life of a real scientist as one who “doesn’t perform prescribed experiments,” but “develops her own and thus generates wholly new knowledge.” 

Finalists:

The Cell: A Visual Tour of the Building Block of Life, by Jack Challoner. University of Chicago Press.

A lavishly illustrated narrative that traces the beginning of cells to their death, giving attention to their incredible specialization and functions.

Resurrection Science: Conservation, De-Extinction and the Precarious Future of Wild Things, by M.R. O’Connor. St. Martin’s Press.

Takes readers on a well-researched and comprehensive yet understandable tour of the field of conservation science, using examples ranging from toads to whales, Florida panthers to Hawaiian crows, and more.

Seven Brief Lessons in Physics, by Carlo Rovelli. Penguin Press. 

Deceptively simple, often elegant writing pulls readers into the mysteries of and explanations about our world and how we look at the structure of reality and what it shows us about the world in which we live.

Order your copies of the 2017 AAAS award-winning books today.