As trees, bushes, and flowers begin to bud and bloom in the warm spring weather, all eyes turn to the window, and outdoor play (and learning) becomes a must. Getting children engaged in and excited about science, technology, engineering, math, and nature can begin as simply and easily as providing them the opportunities to learn by reading a good book or two and by getting outside. For this season of exploration, get all the right books to complement what children are seeing around them—from fiction stories about building gadgets to nonfiction stories about animal behavior and the Apollo missions.

Fiction

In the Rain
Ages 26
by Elizabeth Spurr
illustrated by Manelle Oliphant

Simple and evocative language and charming illustrations describe a girl’s experience on a rainy day. In this gently rhyming board book, a young girl makes a paper boat, splashes in puddles, makes mud pies, and has other springtime fun! Other books in the In the Weather series include In the Snow and In the Wind.

A Tree for Emmy
Ages 48
by Mary Ann Rodman
illustrated by Tatjana Mai Wyss

Emmy loves trees. She loves oak trees with acorns. She loves pine trees with cones, and willow trees with swishy branches. But best of all, Emmy loves the mimosa tree that grows in her grandmother’s pasture. So when Emmy decides she wants a mimosa tree of her own for her birthday, she is dismayed to find that many garden stores only sell ornamental trees like plum or pear or tulip trees. Emmy is crushed—until she discovers that the answer to her problem is growing right before her eyes!

Izzy Gizmo
Ages 48
by Pip Jones
illustrated by Sara Ogilvie

Izzy Gizmo’s inventions are marvelous, magnificent—and they often malfunction. But when she finds a crow with a broken wing, she just has to help! Izzy tries again and again to build a new pair of wings, but nothing is working. And that makes Izzy really cross! Can Izzy overcome her failures? Or is her friend destined to live as a crow who can’t fly?

Planting the Wild Garden
Ages 48
by Kathryn O. Galbraith
illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin

In the wild garden, many seeds are planted too, but not by farmers’ hands. Different kinds of animals transport seeds, often without knowing it. Sometimes rain washes seeds away to a new location. And sometimes something extraordinary occurs, like when the pods of Scotch broom burst open explosively in the summer heat, scattering seeds everywhere like popcorn.

The King of Bees
Ages 48
by Lester L. Laminack
illustrated by Jim LaMarche

Henry can’t wait until he can have a bee-suit of his own so he can help his Aunt Lilla with the sister bees. When he learns that the bees are getting ready to look for a new place to live, he tries to find a way to communicate with the sister bees to convince them to stay.

 

Toad Weather
Ages 48
by Sandra Markle
illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez

There’s nothing to do on a rainy day—or so Ally thinks. But Mama says she’s seen something amazing, so despite Ally’s misgivings, she sets out on an adventure with her mother and grandmother. On her journey, she sees all sorts of things: dripping awnings, wet cardboard, splashing cars…but also earthworms, storm drain geysers, and oil slick patterns. And then they turn the corner, just in time to see a big crowd. What’s happening? Lyrical text tells the story of a remarkable, natural occurrence in an urban setting.


Night of the Spadefoot Toads
Ages 812
by Bill Harley

When his father takes a new job in Massachusetts, Ben Moroney must leave behind the Arizona desert home he has loved and explored. Ben’s adjustment to his new environment is not going well until he unexpectedly finds a kindred spirit in his eccentric fifth-grade science teacher, Mrs Tibbets. She introduces him to the rare and elusive Eastern spadefoot toads that make their home on her rural property. When Ben discovers that Mrs. Tibbets’s land may be sold to developers, he knows he has to do something.bargained for. Soon he will have to face his greatest fears and give up his secrets forever.

Bravo Zulu, Samantha!
Ages 812
By Kathleen Benner Duble

Twelve-year-old Sam likes to memorize fun and weird facts, but does not like the fact that she has to spend a month of her summer vacation at her grandparents’ place while her parents are away. Sam’s relationship with her prickly grandfather, a Colonel, is shaky at best, and now has had to retire from his career as a military pilot, he is harder than ever to get along with. When she finds that her grandfather keeps disappearing into the woods for long stretches of time and won’t let Sam go into the old barn, she tries to solve the mystery with a classmate. Together they discover that the Colonel is building an airplane. Will the Colonel let Sam help him finish the plane so he can fly it in an amateur air competition?

Uncharted Waters
Ages 812
by Leslie Bulion

Most teenage boys would love to spend a summer with a bachelor uncle in a seaside cabin, but not Jonah. He has secrets—lots of them—and they weigh heavily on his mind. One deception leads to another, and he lies to his Uncle Nate about joining the local swim team, not wanting to explain his fear of the dark salt water. Then Jonah gets a job at a local marina where he hopes to do what he enjoys—working with his hands and fixing motors. But when Sumi, a budding marine biologist, asks him to be her research assistant, he jumps at the chance to make some more money. But he gets into a lot more than he

Flash Point

Ages 1216
by Sneed B. Collard III

Luther used play football and party every chance he got, like all his friends. But now he spends his time helping Kay, the local veterinarian, rehabilitating injured raptors and learning the art of falconry. Against the backdrop of Montana’s worst wildfire season in years, Luther begins to question many of the community’s basic precepts, and in doing so faces alienation not only from his friends, but also from his own family. When someone starts shooting Kay’s birds and suspicious fires start breaking out, Luther is drawn into a situation far more dangerous than he could ever have imagined.

The Secret Science of Magic
Ages 1216
By Melissa Keil

Sophia, a former child prodigy and 17-year-old math mastermind, has been having panic attacks since she learned that after high school, former prodigies either cure cancer or go crazy. It’s a lot of pressure. So Sophia doesn’t have the patience for games right now and especially doesn’t have the patience to figure out why all these mysterious playing cards keep turning up inside her textbooks. Joshua, a highly intelligent and cheerfully unambitious amateur magician, has admired Sophia for as long as he can remember and thins now He thinks now is the perfect time to tell Sophia how he feels. He doesn’t know how wrong he is. This newest book from Melissa Keil is perfect for anyone who believes in making friends with the geeks.

Nonfiction

Ages 26

With engaging rhymes and bright, bold images, award-winning author and illustrator Susan Stockdale introduces young readers to a wide range of unusual flowers. Can you imagine a flower that looks like a ballerina? A baboon? A napping baby? Back matter tells a little bit more about each flower (including color photographs) and describes the pollination process. Check out some of Susan Stockdale’s other fun nonfiction reads, including Spectacular Spots and Bring on the Birds!


About Birds: A Guide for Children

Ages 3–7
by Cathryn Sill
illustrated by John Sill

With simple, easy-to-understand language, this beginner’s guide offers a first glimpse into the natural world of birds and teaches children what birds are, what they do, and how they live. With beautifully detailed, realistic paintings, noted wildlife illustrator John Sill introduces readers to the diverse and natural world of birds. An afterword provides further details on the birds featured and inspires young readers to learn more.

Be on the lookout for the newest addition to the About series, About Woodpeckers!

 

Ages 3–7
by Cathryn Sill
illustrated by John Sill

This beginner’s guide explores the major attributes of the grassland biome and showcases its striking beauty and remarkable diversity using examples from around the globe. Award-winning author Cathryn Sill uses simple, easy-to-understand language to teach children what grasslands are and what kinds of animals and plants live there. John Sill’s detailed, full-color illustrations reflect the diversity of grasslands and the wide variety of the plants and animals that live in grassland habitats.

Browse all the books in the About Habitats series here.

Pipsqueaks, Slowpokes, and Stinkers: Celebrating Animal Underdogs
Ages 4–8
by Melissa Stewart
illustrated by Stephanie Laberis
Written with a lively, playful voice, this informative nonfiction picture book introduces young readers to a variety of “animal underdogs”, from the stinky hoatzin to the shy okapi. With a gentle message of understanding and celebrating differences, award-winning author Melissa Stewart offers readers a humorous look at these animals and explains how characteristics that might seem like weaknesses are critical for finding food and staying safe in an eat-or-be-eaten world.

Ages 610

illustrated by Higgins Bond

While reminding children of the interconnectedness of our world, this series helps them learn basic facts about each species, including the ecosystems that support their survival, and how they benefit plants and other animals. Sidebars throughout the books contain information on human action that has harmed carious species, efforts that have been made to reverse the damage (many of them remarkably successful), and a variety of ways people can protect the natural world. Pointers on how kids can help in their own neighborhoods are also included.

This series includes: A Place for FishA Place for Birds, A Place for Bats, A Place for Butterflies, A Place for Frogs, and A Place for Turtles. 

Ages 7–10
By Ruth Ashby
Illustrated by Robert Hunt
This dramatic biography of John Glenn, one of the the early pioneers of manned space flight, includes  his extraordinary experiences as a fighter pilot in two wars, his near-disastrous mission in Friendship 7, and his life as an astronaut in the prestigious and dangerous Mercury 7 program. The book concludes with Glenn’s successful career as a U.S. senator and his triumphant return to space in 1998 at the age of 77.

Leaf Litter Critters
Ages 8–12
by Leslie Bulion
illustrated by Robert Meganck

Have fun on this poetic tour through the thin layer of decaying leaves, plant parts, and soil beneath our feet and dig into the fascinating facts about the tiny critters who live there. Nineteen poems in a variety of verse forms with accompanying science notes take readers on a decomposer safari through the “brown food web,” from bacteria through tardigrades and on to rove beetle predators. Glossary, hands-on investigations, and resources are included in the back matter.

For more fun with science and poetry, check out Leslie Bulion’s At the Sea Floor Cafe and Random Body Parts.

Ages 812
illustrated by Beverly DoyleBatten introduces readers to the serious and ongoing environmental problems caused by invasive plant and animal species. Describing various examples—from the accidental release of the gypsy moth into the United States to the deliberate introduction of rabbits to Australia—the text shows how these foreign intrusions have disturbed the delicate balance of local ecosystems.


Countdown: 2979 Days to the Moon
Ages 10 and up
by Suzanne Slade
illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced that the United States would try to land a man on the Moon within ten years. During the two thousand nine hundred seventy-nine days that followed his speech, eighteen astronauts climbed into spaceships. Three of them died before even leaving the ground. Eight rockets soared into space. And four hundred thousand people—scientists, engineers, technicians, mathematicians, and machinists—joined Project Apollo in hopes of making the dream a reality. This stunning book from former mechanical engineer Suzanne Slade and New York Times best-selling illustrator Thomas Gonzalez tells the powerful story of every success, failure, triumph, tragedy, and lesson learned from Apollos 1 through 11 that led to an American Moon landing.

Find these books and more at your local library, indie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble!