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Literary Science 1: K-5 Mentor Texts

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

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

      Applegate, Katherine. Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla. Illustrated by G. Brian Karas. Clarion, 2014. 40` pages. Ages 5-9

      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

      Davies, Nicola. I (Don't) Like Snakes. Illustrated by Luciano Lozano. Candlewick Press, 2015. 25 pages. Ages 5–9

      Davies, Nicola. Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes. Illustrated by Emily Sutton. Candlewick Press, 2014. 32 pages. Ages 6-9

      Fleming, Candace. Giant Squid. Illustrated by Eric Rohmann. A Neal Porter Book / Roaring Brook Press, 2016. 36 pages. Ages 6-11

      Holm, Jennifer L. . The Fourteenth Goldfish. Arthur A, Levine Books/ Scholastic, Inc., 2014. 195 pages. Ages 9-12

      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

      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

      Markle, Sandra . The Long, Long Journey: The Godwit's Amazing Migration. Illustrated by Mia Posada. Millbrook Press, 2013. 32 pages. Ages 5-8

      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

      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

      Stewart, Melissa and Allen Young . No Monkeys, No Chocolate. Illustrated by Nicole Wong. Charlesbridge, 2013. 32 pages. Ages 5-9

      Wheeler, Lisa. The Pet Project: Cute and Cuddly Vicious Verses. Illustrated by Zachariah Ohora. Atheneum, 2013. 36 pages. Ages 5-8

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

    Earth & Space Science

      Chin, Jason. Grand Canyon. A Neal Porter Book / Roaring Brook Press, 2017. 42 pages. Ages 6-10

      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

      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

      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

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

    Physical Science/Engineering & Technology

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

      Barton, Chris. Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions. Illustrated by Don Tate. Charlesbridge, 2016. 32 pages. 6-11

      Best, Cari. Sally Jean, the Bicycle Queen. Illustrated by Christine Davenier. Melanie Kroupa Books / Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006. 32 pages. Ages 5-9

      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

      Davis, Kathryn Gibbs. Mr. Ferris and His Wheel. Illustrated by Gilbert Ford. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014. 40 pages. Ages 5-9

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

      Fleming, Candace. Papa's Mechanical Fish. Illustrated by Boris Kulikov. Margaret Ferguson Books/Farrar Strauss Giroux, 2013. 40 pages. Ages 5-8

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

      Kamkwamba, William and Bryan Mealer . The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. Illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon. Dial, 2012. 32 pages. Ages 5–9

      McCarthy, Meghan. Earmuffs for Everyone! How Chester Greenwood Became Known as the Inventor of Earmuffs. A Paula Wiseman Book / Simon & Schuster, 2015. 40 pages. Ages 6–9

      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

      Spires, Ashley. The Most Magnificent Thing. Kids Can Press, 2014. 32 pages. Ages 4-8

      Stanley, Diane. Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science: The First Computer Programmer. Illustrated by Jessie Hartland. Simon & Schuster, 2016. 40 pages. Ages 6-10

      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

      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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