Parents use all sorts of means to get their kids to eat well so that they have a strong body. What about reading well in order to have a strong mind? Today, I want to talk about how books can introduce science to early readers, and also one in particular that I think is a good example.
Books that skillfully introduce science through an interesting story are excellent ways to kindle a kid’s imagination. How do we find things out? Who makes important discoveries and how to they do it? In what practical ways do we use science to discover the secrets of our world? How can a kid learn to observe the world in a way the he or she can make discoveries, too?
A great little book that got me thinking about this was Shipwreck Search: Discovery of the H.L. Hunley, written by Sally M. Walker and illustrated by Elaine Verstraete, and published in 2006 by Millbrook Press, Minneapolis, MN. Its the story of the H.L. Hunley, a confederate submarine that was sunk and lost in the American Civil War. Divers sought for years but not until 1995 were they successful.
Written for second to fourth grade readers, Walker tells the fascinating story of three underwater archeologists who searched for and found the missing submarine. That was only the beginning of the discovery, however. They encountered problems along the way that required careful thinking before devising solutions as they sought to raise the wreck and bring it back to the lab to investigate further.
Walker skillfully describes the engineering challenges that these men faced, and along the way she introduces kids to history and historical method, engineering, chemistry, logic, and patient, painstaking work, all indespensible tools for uncovering the mysteries of the submarine and the men who perished inside. Its fascinating stuff.
Lots of folks struggled with math and science in school and they often demonstrate a strong distaste for those subjects to their children. We tell our children that we hated math or science, but “they’ve got to learn it because its important!” The big science turn-off starts so early and parents and teachers are often the source of those attitudes. Too bad. In the globalized knowledge economy, there is a growing need to encourage kids to embrace this knowledge.
In a world where global competition is growing, its important for our children to develop an interest in acquiring an creating knowledge. Knowledge is the power of the present and the future. Our children’s welfare and prosperity, their occupations and success, will largely depend on how they cope with and contribute to the knowledge economy.
Kids books can help. “Shipwreck Search: Discovery of the H.L. Hunley” is a good example that shows how science adds to the cool factor of adventure and discovery.