Reading List: Children’s Books About STEM

childrens books stem

 

Children’s books are great resources for STEM education: they’re written at a level that a child can understand, and books about science, technology, engineering, and math for children are increasingly published. The library’s Family Room houses books on these subjects as well as fiction and middle-grade books. If you’re a student teacher or a parent, you can use this reading list to pick up educational children’s STEM books from the library.

*Book descriptions provided by the publishers, c/o the library catalog

 

The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind by William Kamkwamba

When 14-year-old William Kamkwamba’s Malawi village was hit by a drought in 2001, everyone’s crops began to fail. His family didn’t have enough money for food, let alone school, so William spent his days in the library. He came across a book on windmills and figured out how to build a windmill that could bring electricity to his village. Everyone thought he was crazy but William persevered and managed to create a functioning windmill out of junkyard scraps. Several years later he figured out how to use the windmill for irrigation purposes.

 

Hey, Water! by Antoinette Pointis

Splash along with a spunky little girl who realizes that water is everywhere. But water doesn’t always look the same, it doesn’t always feel the same, and it shows up in lots of different shapes. And so the girl launches into a spirited game of hide-and-seek with water, discovering it in nature, in weather, and even in herself.

 

Little Leonardo’s Fascinating World of Science by Bob Cooper

Introduces kids to the vast and varied areas of science and the different types of scientists they can aspire to become. Whether it’s ancient dinosaur bones unearthed by paleontologists, anthropologists studying different cultures around the globe, or new planets discovered by astronomers, there’s bound to be something here any child will find fascinating and appealing.

 

The Girl With A Mind For Math by Julia Finley Mosca

This is a rhyming-text picture book about Raye Montague. After touring a German submarine in the early 1940s, young Raye set her sights on becoming an engineer. Little did she know sexism and racial inequality would challenge that dream every step of the way, even keeping her greatest career accomplishment a secret for decades. Through it all, the gifted mathematician persisted, finally gaining her well-deserved title in history: a pioneer who changed the course of ship design forever.

 

The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rainforest by Lynne Cherry

The many different animals that live in a great Kapok tree in the Brazilian rainforest try to convince a man with an ax of the importance of not cutting down their home.

 

The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield

Chris loves rockets and planets and pretending he’s a brave astronaut, exploring the universe. Only one problem: at night, Chris doesn’t feel so brave. He’s afraid of the dark. But when he watches the groundbreaking moon landing on TV, he realizes that space is the darkest dark there is, and the dark is beautiful and exciting, especially when you have big dreams to keep you company. (Inspired by the childhood of real-life astronaut Chris Hadfield.)

 

Even An Octopus Needs A Home by Irene Kelly

Shows how animals solve the problem of locating safe places in which to live and raise families.

 

The Brooklyn Bridge: A Wonders of the World Book by Elizabeth Mann

Describes the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, from its conception by John Roebling in 1852 through, after many setbacks, its final completion under the direction of his son, Washington, in 1883.

 

Are You A Beetle? by Judy Allen

This colorful first nature book introduces preschoolers to the world of the beetle. Ideal for reading aloud or as a first reader, the witty text and detailed illustrations bring this familiar creature to life. Young children will be fascinated by this tiny living thing found right in their own backyard.

 

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca

Here is the story of the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon: a story of leaving and returning during the summer of 1969, and a story of home, seen whole, from far away by steady astronauts in their great machines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moments In History: September 5th-6th, 1972

German Olympics

Matthew Beyer has begun a “Moments In History” series to raise awareness of important historical events. Each post will also have book recommendations about the moment in history, using our extensive history collection in the library.

 

September 5th-6th, 1972

Black September & The Munich Massacre

 

In 1972, during the Summer Olympics Games in Munich Germany, an event would take place that would shock the world and create a flash bulb moment in history. These moments are a type of collective memory that large portions of the population share, as each individual can remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when they learned about the given event. Examples of this include The Moon Landing, JFK’s assassination, and (in my own life time) 9/11. These events are becoming much more common as information is being spread at a faster rate through the use of the Internet and 24/7 news coverage.

On September 5th, 1972, eight members of a terrorist group infiltrated the Olympic housing compounds of the Israeli Olympic Team.  They were members of Black September, a group affiliated and connected to the Palestinian Liberation Organization or PLO. The terrorists were armed with AK-47’s, pistols, and grenades, and in the ensuing chaos of entering the dormitories, several athletes were injured and two killed while they bravely attempted to fight off and barricade themselves from their attackers. Eventually, the remaining 9 athletes were subdued.

By morning, nearly a billion people around the world were watching the tense standoff unfold on television. The terrorists demanded the release of some 234 Palestinians prisoners as well as a few other secular non-Islamic groups. The official Israeli position at the time was no negotiation with terrorists at any cost, due to the fear that such concessions would only lead to more hostages and threats against Jews.

The German government dragged out negotiations as long as they could. They quickly devised a plan to raid the building and attempt to rescue the hostages. As they were moments away from making entry, the terrorists appeared on the patio, threatening to kill two Israeli hostages.  Their entire plan was ruined because there were dozens of news agencies on site reporting on what the police were doing, and the terrorists were inside watching it all unfold live on television.

The government finally agreed to charter a plan and have the entire group flown to Cairo, Egypt, where negotiations could continue. This was a ploy to plan an ambush at the airport. The terrorists were driven to waiting helicopters and then to an airport where a jet was waiting. The jet was supposed to have police on board dressed as flight crew, but through a series of poor communication and lack of centralized command, the German police abandoned this plan and all that were there to rescue the hostages were five police acting as snipers hundreds of meters away. They had no radios nor did they have night vision or scopes on their rifles.

What happened next was a disaster. The terrorists soon discovered that the jet was empty of pilots and crew, and the police sharpshooters soon began to open fire. In the resulting two-hour gun battle, 5 of the 8 hostage takers were killed along with 1 German police officer. However, the worst was still to come.

The situation was so chaotic that a German government spokesman issued a statement that the operation had been a success and all hostages were saved. Only a few hours later did the truth come out when Jim McKay, a sports journalist covering the Olympic events, received the fateful news:

We just got the final word . . . you know, when I was a kid, my father used to say “Our greatest hopes and our worst fears are seldom realized.” Our worst fears have been realized tonight. They’ve now said that there were 11 hostages. 2 were killed in their rooms yesterday morning, 9 were killed at the airport tonight. They’re all gone.

It turned out that, during the ensuing gun battle, the Israeli athletes were killed. The aftermath of this horrific event caused ripples across the world for the German government; it showed they were woefully unprepared for violent hostage style crises that were becoming increasingly prevalent all over the world. Each major nation took note of this event and began to develop units of highly trained police and counter-terrorist specialist to deal with such events.

Back in Israel, the nation was in mourning and many of its people furious as the Olympics continued after only of 34 hours of postponement. Israel would go on to bomb numerous training camps belonging to the PLO in Lebanon and Syria. What they are most famous for was Operation Wrath of God, in which they would send out covert agents of Mossad and attempt to assassinate the masterminds and financiers of Black September and high ranking members of the PLO. For over a decade, they would track down targets all over the world and assassinate them.

This moment in history is often considered the starting point of when the world was first introduced to terror threats, hostage taking, and mass killing that has now become all too familiar.

Here are some great resources at the library if you wish to learn more about this topic:

 

 

Featured Book: “Everybody Writes”

everybody writes

Because the written word is so ubiquitous in the social media age, good writing is hard to find and yet more important than ever. It’s easy to lose someone’s attention in all of the noise- but you don’t want to do that when you’re writing for your job! In Everybody Writes, content creator and marketer Ann Handley advises readers on how to make their writing simpler and smarter. Generally, Handley focuses on shorter pieces- articles, Tweets, etc.- but her suggestions can also be applied to other kinds of writing. This book encourages you to approach writing as a work out, something you do each day to make you better at it overall.

pex writing

Handley starts out by defining what “content” means and how we can publish better content. She then goes on to provide general writing tips, ideas for better productivity, and how to make a great “lead” in to your story. While the book is divided into 6 parts, it’s short and direct with its message.

For Handley, “show, don’t tell” is a major part of good content:

Good content- and good writing- doesn’t preach or hard sell. Instead, it shows how your product or service lives in the world, explaining in human terms how it adds value to people’s lives, eases troubles, shoulders burdens, and meets needs.

By thinking about your audience and writing for their needs, you can create worthy content for your job, business, or blog.

Everybody Writes is available in the library. If you’d like to check out other books on writing, try these:

Book Review: “Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell

fangirl

 

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell is cute, relatable, and touching.

I’m a nonfiction person- I like true crime, journalism, and feminist books- but this young adult novel was a nice change of pace for my reading list. For starters, the book is set on a college campus in 2011. The main character, Cath, is getting used to college as a freshman. Maybe it’s because I also came to college in 2011 that I felt a connection to the story. Or maybe it was the references to how Cath and her twin sister, Wren, remembered 9/11 happening when they were in elementary school. That’s a sad thing to relate to, but it’s also a unifying experience that everyone of a certain age has. I still feel shocked when one of my student workers tells me that they don’t remember 9/11, or (gasp) they weren’t even born yet! They don’t remember Y2K either- which, if you don’t know how important that was, here’s an example: my husband’s family of 11 stockpiled food and supplies for months leading up to Y2K, only for nothing to really happen. There’s nothing wrong with not remembering 9/11 or Y2K, though. It just makes me feel old.

Anyway, back to Fangirl. So Cath and Wren go to college, and Wren wants time away from Cath. College is scary for Cath, who struggles with anxiety, but she manages to make a small cast of interesting friends. One of these friends turns out to be a love interest for Cath, and their romance is pretty cute. They’re very different in personality and interests, but they both put a lot of effort in their relationship, which is heartwarming to read about. Plus, this character brings out the best in Cath, who can often withdraw when she really needs to be asking for help.

Another major point in the book includes Cath coming into her own as a writer. She excels at fanfiction writing- in fact, she’s writing a really long and Internet-famous piece about Simon Snow (who is basically this world’s Harry Potter). However, Cath learns in her Fiction Writing class that she may need to branch out and create her own characters.

Fangirl also has brief but powerful descriptions of mental illness and, thankfully, getting the help the characters need. Cath’s family has trouble coming to terms with the reappearance of Cath’s distant mother, Cath’s father struggles with manic/depressive episodes, and Wren has to face up to an alcohol addiction. Still, in all of the turmoil, the characters make progress in their treatments and with their relationships. It’s encouraging to read about mental illness in a real way- it’s hard, it affects others in your life, but there is also help for those who need it.

I’d recommend Fangirl to any freshman who’s still new to college, growing up, and figuring out your relationships (with family, friends, or significant others). I’d also recommend it to people who have graduated already and want to take a look back at how things used to be. It’s nostalgic without being overwhelming. Added bonus: if you love Harry Potter, you will definitely relate to Cath’s Simon Snow obsession.

 

You can check out Fangirl from the library here.

 

Content note: Fangirl contains some suggestive scenes and language.

Featured Book: Brand Luther

The subtitle says it all: “How an Unheralded Monk Turned His Small Town into a
Center of Publishing, Made Himself the Most Famous Man in Europe– and Started the Protestant Reformation.” Brand Luther, a recent book by Reformation scholar Andrew Pettegree, is a must-read for those wanting to learn about the history of communications and media, or the Protestant Reformation, or both. (Reformation Day is coming up at the end of the month, too)!

“Luther spent his life in and out of print shops, observing and directing. … He appreciated that the quality and design of the printed artifact that presented his message was itself a visual totem to its respectability and truth.”

Consider the fact that “within five years of penning the ninety-five theses, he [Luther] was Europe’s most published author–ever.” Pettegree claims that much of his success was due to his direct appeal to the German people through printed books and pamphlets and the attention he paid to developing a visual brand with these objects.

luther

Inviting and readable, with plentiful images of the places, people–and books–described, Brand Luther will appeal to those interested in design, marketing, history, and theology.

 

We’re Hiring!

We're Hiring!

Students, consider applying to work with us this fall! The library offers flexible hours that work with your class schedule. For the student workers who graduate, the library donates a book to our collection in their honor. Plus, library student workers learn valuable skills like working with Excel, the Library of Congress system, and excellent customer service.

Apply today by logging in to UUConnect.

It’s Limerick Day!

On this twelfth day of May, it is imperative that you take a moment to celebrate one of the highest literary forms in the English language…the limerick.

Limericks are a comic verse form usually involving outlandish rhymes, often using place names. They were most likely named after County Limerick in Ireland. Today is the birthday of Edward Lear, the talented poet who arguably perfected the art of the limerick (while managing to grow a downright impressive beard).

Edward_Lear_1867

Here’s a sampling of ridiculous limericks by Lear:

There was an Old Man of Kilkenny,
Who never had more than a penny;
He spent all that money,
In onions and honey,
That wayward Old Man of Kilkenny.

There was an Old Man with a beard,
Who said, “It is just as I feared! —
Two Owls and a Hen,
Four Larks and a Wren,
Have all built their nests in my beard.”     [autobiographical?]

There was an Old Man in a boat,
Who said, ‘I’m afloat, I’m afloat!’
When they said, ‘No! you ain’t!’
He was ready to faint,
That unhappy Old Man in a boat.

Here’s an original limerick dedicated to the suffering students of Union – may they pass all their exams!

There was a young lady at college,
Who attempted to gather much knowledge.
She’d study at night
In finals-week fright.
Thus she learned to like coffee at college.

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Featured Book: “Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books” by Tony Reinke

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“A book about reading books? That seems like overthinking things to me.”

But if you’ve ever questioned whether reading fiction is a waste of time, debated the merits of books written by secular authors, or felt overwhelmed by the sheer amount of books you wish you had time to read, you might want to check out this book.

“Reading books is hard work,” the author acknowledges. But it is also deeply rewarding. Tony Reinke pictures books like stars, a vast array of “lesser lights” that can’t compare to the brilliance of God’s Word but can still show us good and important things.

“The motto of the reading Christian is a dazzling doxology: ‘in your light do we see light’ (Psalm 36:9). Christian readers can now see and treasure the truth, goodness, and beauty that flicker in the pages of books. The whole thing is like reading books under high voltage stadium lights. We see by the illuminating grace of God.”

Tony Reinke’s thoughtful, accessible, and systematic guide will help you determine what to read and why. Beginning with “A Theology of Books and Reading” Lit! moves to a section of “Some Practical Advice on Book Reading.” Lit! covers these great topics and more:

  • the benefits (and risks) of reading non-Christian books
  • the power of spiritual imagination
  • how to create a list of reading priorities
  • helpful tips for reading fiction and nonfiction
  • how to carve out time for reading from your busy schedule
  • the effects of Internet reading on book reading
  • why you should mark up your copies with notes and highlights
  • ideas for building Christian community around shared books

Want to check out Lit! from the UU Library? Find it here in our catalog.

 

Light Reading for Spring Break

The library’s Recreational Reading collection (upstairs on the left) is your destination for refreshingly un-assigned spring break reading.

Whether you’re the sort who can’t wait to curl up with a long book and a huge cup of tea or you’re just looking for something to do on the plane ride home, we’ve collected a wide selection of popular fiction and nonfiction for you to enjoy in your spare time. Stop by the library before you leave campus and pick out a book!

Here are a few of our newer fiction titles:

Celebrate Spring with Picture Books!

Today is officially the start of spring! Sunny days have returned at last (at least, some of the time), and new life is blossoming from the trees. If you have little ones who are feeling the urge to get outside, bring reading time outdoors too! We have a great selection of spring-themed children’s literature in the Family Reading Room. Take a look at these fun titles:

The World is Awake by Linsey Davis

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This lively book takes readers on a romp through God’s creation, showing how everything he’s made, from zoo animals to fresh produce, praises Him. The vibrant illustrations recall the brightness of spring, which is the perfect time of year to teach kids thankfulness for the blessings of nature.

Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert

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Bold collage illustrations and simple text make this a great first book about gardening. It follows the process from seeds planted to soup cooked, a joyful celebration of home-grown food.

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

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Does a parade of quacking ducklings make you think of spring? Try this classic Caldecott Medal winner about a family of ducks seeking a home in busy, traffic-filled Boston. Author-illustrator Robert McCloskey’s sepia charcoal drawings may not be in spring colors, but they are alive with action and character.

We Are Growing by Laurie Keller

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Beginning readers will enjoy this exciting story about…grass growing. No, really. As several blades of grass get taller, they discuss the things that make them unique–until one discovers there’s nothing unique about him. Or is there? Written in Mo Willems’ cartoon style, this book even features beloved characters Elephant & Piggie!

If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson

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Glowing full-page canvas paintings of leaping rabbits and staring birds fill this simple, low-text story about sowing and reaping. Starting with the growth of a literal seed, Nelson then visually displays how seeds of selfishness and seeds of kindness grow. The veggies on the last page look so juicy, this book might inspire a trip to the farmer’s market!

 

 

Come to the Meadow by Anna Grossnickle Hines

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A little girl invites each of her family members to follow her to the meadow, which she knows is brimming with signs of spring. Each one is busy with some spring-related task and can’t come with her, until she asks Grandma, who suggests a spontaneous picnic to celebrate the season. Beautiful two-tone illustrations in yellow and green complement the text.

If you want to encourage your children to delight in God’s creation, pay attention to nature, or even be inspired with a love of gardening, check out these fun read-alouds available in the Logos Family Reading Room!