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Literary Science 1: K-5 Mentor Texts

Compiled by Megan Schliesman
© 2012 Cooperative Children's Book Center

The Next Generation Science Standards under development emphasize four broad areas of science education:

  • Life Science
  • Earth & Space Science
  • Physical Science
  • Engineering & Technology


  • This bibliography suggests children's literature titles that can be used as mentor texts across these four broad areas.* This list is not meant to be exhaustive or to incorporate every science concept that is taught. Instead, it is meant to suggest ways of integrating high-quality children's literature into the science curriculum--books that model outstanding writing (mentor texts) and that can foster engagement, invite discussion, and connect science with other areas of the curriculum. Titles include picture books, novels, poetry, and books of information.

    It should be noted that while the first two categories, Life Science and Earth & Space Science, offer many rich possibilities in children's literature, the other two categories, Physical Science and Engineering & Technology, present more of a challenge. Therefore, these two have been combined into a single category on this list.

    See the CCBC bibliography 50 Books about Science and Scientists for additional science-related titles. Additionally, Wisconsin librarians and teachers looking for children's trade literature that connects to specific areas of the science curriculum can email the CCBC with your request. While there aren't always trade books to meet specific science curriculum need, we are happy to search and see if we can recommend, or at least suggest, some titles.



    *This list specifically address the NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas (Dimension 3) of the standards. But the standards also articulate Practices (Dimension 1) and Crosscutting Concepts (Dimension 2). In order to facilitate students' learning, the three dimensions should be woven together--suggestions for ways to do so are beyond the scope of this bibliography. (Thank you to Kathy Huncosky, science resource teacher for the Madison Metropolitan School District, for her assistance in identifying and understanding dimensions of the NGSS standards and for her input on the scope of this project.)


    Click on underlined book titles to see the CCBC review of the book, and/or the cover image.
    Complete list of CCBC bibliographies


    Life Science

      Bang, Molly and Penny Chisholm . Living Sunlight: How Plants Bring the Earth to Life. Illustrated by Molly Bang. Blue Sky Press / Scholastic, 2009. 32 pages. Ages 4 - 8

      Cyrus, Kurt. The Voyage of Turtle Rex. Harcourt / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 32 pages. Ages 3-8

      Hopkinson, Deborah. The Humblebee Hunter: Inspired by the Life & Experiments of Charles Darwin and His Children. Illustrated by Jen Corace. Disney / Hyperion, 2010. 32 pages. Ages 5 - 9

      Jackson, Alison. Thea's Tree. Illustrated by Janet Pedersen. Dutton, 2008. 32 pages. Ages 5-8

      Jenkins, Martin. Can We Save the Tiger?. Illustrated by Vicky White. Candlewick Press, 2011. 50 pages. Age 8 and older

      Jenkins, Steve. Never Smile at a Monkey: And 17 Other Important Things to Remember. Houghton Mifflin / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009. 32 pages. Ages 5 - 9

      McDonnell, Patrick. Me … Jane. Little, Brown, 2011. 40 pages. Ages 5-8

      Park, Linda Sue. Project Mulberry. Clarion, 2005. 225 pages. Ages 9-12

      Peters, Lisa Westberg . Our Family Tree: An Evolution Story. Illustrated by Lauren Stringer. Harcourt, 2003. 48 pages. Ages 5 - 10

      Schwartz, David M. and Yael Schy . Where In the Wild: Camouflaged Creatures Concealed ... and Revealed. Photographed by Dwight Khun. Tricycle Press, 2007. 22 pages. Ages 7-12

      Sidman, Joyce. Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature. Illustrated by Beth Krommes. Houghton Mifflin, 2011. 32 pages. Ages 3-9

      Stewart, Melissa . Under the Snow. Illustrated by Constance R. Bergum. Peachtree, 2009. 32 pages. Ages 4 - 8

      Voake, Steve. Insect Detective. Illustrated by Charlotte Voake. U.S. edition: Candlewick Press, 2010. 28 pages. Ages 4 - 9

      Yezerski, Thomas F.. Meadowlands: A Wetlands Survival Story. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2011. 32 pages. Ages 7-10


    Earth & Space Science

      Christian, Peggy. If You Find a Rock. Photographed by Barbara Hirsch Lember. Harcourt, 2000. 32 pages. Ages 3 - 8

      Cole, Joanna. The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge. Illustrated by Bruce Degen. Scholastic Press, 2010. 37 pages. Ages 7 - 10

      Cotten, Cynthia. Rain Play. Illustrated by Javaka Steptoe. Henry Holt, 2008. 24 pages. Ages 3-6

      DeCristofano, Carolyn Cinami. A Black Hole Is Not a Hole. Illustrated by Michael Carroll. Charlesbridge, 2012. 74 pages. Ages 9-13

      Fogliano, Julie. and then it's spring. Illustrated by Erin E. Stead. A Neal Porter Book / Roaring Brook Press, 2012. 32 pages. Ages 3-7

      Kajikawa, Kimiko. Tsunami!. Illustrated by Ed Young. Philomel, 2009. 32 pages. Ages 5-9

      Lin, Grace and Ranida T. McKneally . Our Seasons. Illustrated by Grace Lin. Charlesbridge, 2006. 32 pages. Ages 4-8

      Lyon, George Ella. All the Water in the World. Illustrated by Katherine Tillotson. A Richard Jackson Book / Atheneum, 2011. 32 pages. Ages 4-8

      Perkins, Lynne Rae. Snow Music. Greenwillow Books / HarperCollins, 2003. 36 pages. Ages 4 - 8

      Sayre, April Pulley. Stars Beneath Your Bed: The Surprising Story of Dust. Illustrated by Ann Jonas. Greenwillow Books / HarperCollins, 2005. 24 pages. Ages 5-8

      Schyffert, Bea Uusma. The Man Who Went to the Far Side of the Moon: The Story of Apollo 11 Astronaut Michael Collins. Chronicle, 2003. 77 pages. Ages 8 - 14

      Sis, Peter. Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei. Frances Foster Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1996. 32 pages. Ages 8 - 12

      Uhlberg, Myron. A Storm Called Katrina. Illustrated by Colin Bootman. Peachtree, 2011. 40 pages. Ages 6-10


    Physical Science/Engineering & Technology

      Avi, . The Seer of Shadows. HarperCollins, 2008. 208 pages. Ages 8-11

      Barretta, Gene. Now and Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin. Henry Holt, 2006. 32 pages. Ages 6-10

      Brown, Don. Odd Boy Out : Young Albert Einstein . Houghton Mifflin, 2004. 32 pages. Ages 6-9

      Busby, Peter. First to Fly: How Wilbur and Orville Wright Invented the Airplane. Illustrated by David Craig. Madison Press / Crown, 2003. 32 pages. Ages 7-11

      Fern, Tracey E.. Pippo the Fool. Illustrated by Pau Estrada. Charlesbridge, 2009. 40 pages. Ages 8 -12

      Griffith, Victoria. The Fabulous Flying Machines of Alberto Santos-Dumont. Illustrated by Eva Montanari. Abrams, 2011. 28 pages. Ages 4-8

      Jenkins, Steve. Actual Size. Houghton Mifflin, 2004. 32 pages. Ages 4-9

      McCully, Emily Arnold. Marvelous Mattie: How Margaret E. Knight Became an Inventor. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006. 32 pages. Ages 5-9

      Selznick, Brian. The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Scholastic Press, 2007. 533 pages. Ages 9-13

      Sweet, Melissa. Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade. Houghton Mifflin / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 32 pages. Ages 6-10

      Weatherford, Carole Boston. Before John Was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane. Illustrated by Sean Qualls. Henry Holt, 2008. 28 pages. Ages 5-8

      Young, Cybčle. Ten Birds. Kids Can Press, 2011. 32 pages. Ages 4-9



    This list may be reproduced and distributed by educational and/or nonprofit organizations so long as credit is given to the Cooperative Children's Book Center, School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison.



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