Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Sensational Science Books for Kids

A few weeks ago, we brought you a post about great science books for teens. This week we follow up with recommendations for elementary school readers. - Eds.

April 22 is Earth Day, a reminder for all of us to take a break from our screens and go on a hike- or at least read a good book about Earth’s creatures. When library staff visit schools to promote books, we notice that amazing but true tales from science are among students’ favorites. Here are a few stand-outs for elementary school age.

Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes by Nicola Davies

Right now every single one of us has more microbes living on our skin than the total number of people on Earth. Microbes in us and on us outnumber human cells ten to one! But don’t worry, even though some microbes can make us sick, the ones that live on us all the time keep us well. Read this book to learn more about your billions of invisible friends.

Pink is for Blobfish by Jess Keating

This book will change the way you think about the color pink. Pink can be weird! Pink can be gross! Pink can be cool! Just ask the blobfish, the pinktoe tarantula, the pink fairy armadillo or the nudibranch. Help the color pink bust out of its stereotype as the color of princesses and posies by reading about these fabulous – and sometimes disgusting – pink creatures.

The Queen's Shadow: A Story about How Animals See by Cybele Young

A crime has occurred at the royal ball - someone has stolen the Queen's shadow! In order to find out “who dunnit,” we have to learn about each creature’s unique type of vision. The lancehead snake can "see" body heat in the darkness as an infrared glow. The mantis shrimp has trinocular vision, seeing objects from three different angles for extra depth perception. The pigeon can see many more colors than humans can. You'll never "see" things the same way after you read this fun science mystery!

When Lunch Fights Back by Rebecca Johnson

All over the animal kingdom, almost every creature on Earth has to worry about becoming some other creature’s lunch. Each has ways of avoiding that, some as common as camouflage or speed, and others more… unusual. The peacock shrimp has the strongest punch of any creature on Earth; it can punch with a force thousands of times its body weight. The horned lizard has a spooky defense – it shoots blood out of its eyes. Read this book for tales of self-defense by slime, vomit, projectile poop and dagger-like bones.

-Suzanne LaPierre, City of Fairfax Library

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

9 Books Library Staff Can't Put Down

Curious which books have library staff excited this spring?  Take a look at our What We're Reading: Spring 2017 page to find some titles to spruce up your reading list. And let us know what books you just can't put down!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Every Week is Teen Tech Week at the Library

Last week, Fairfax County Public Library and many libraries across the country celebrated the Young Adult Library Services Association’s (YALSA) Teen Tech Week. There were coding classes, robot and 3-D printer demonstrations, a Sphero robot obstacle course and even mini drone quidditch. If you missed the fun last week, don’t worry. There are tech events happening year round. Check out the library’s Maker Events, or drop by the library's booth at the 4th annual Nova Maker Faire in Reston on March 19, 2017.

If you can't make it to an event, check out one of these books to get started on your own tech projects, from coding games and websites to building robots.

Beginners can get an introduction to Minecraft and Lego coding, Python and several other coding languages with the Kids Can Code series by Patricia Harris or the Kids Get Coding series by Heather Lyons.

Learn all things Scratch, from the basics to creating your own games with Coding Projects in Scratch or Coding Games in Scratch by Jon Woodcock.  

Is Scratch too easy for you? Take it up a notch and dig into HTML, for creating web sites, and JavaScript with Max Wainewright's How to Code.

And if hardware is your thing, try building your own gizmos, machines and simple robots using Making Simple Robots by Kathy Ceceri or The Robot Book by Bobby Mercer.

--Rebecca Molineaux, Kings Park Library

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Super Science Books for Teens

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to track gila monsters by microchip or develop IQ tests for octopuses? Find out in one of the books in an amazing nature series called Scientists in the Field. Targeting middle and high school students, the series is informative enough for adults too. Many of the books in this series have won multiple awards. 

Park Scientists: Gila Monsters, Geysers, and Grizzly Bears in America’s Own Backyard, Mary Kay Carson

This book is about scientists who do research in our national parks – such as putting GPS collars on grizzly bears at Yellowstone National Park to find out where they hibernate or collecting DNA samples from salamanders in Great Smoky Mountains Park to study population genetics. Find out how the work of park scientists benefits wildlife.

Inside Biosphere 2: Earth Science Under Glass, Mary Kay Carson

Biosphere 2 is a three acre mini-Earth under a dome that scientists have created in the Arizona desert. It took four years to build and includes ocean, desert and rainforest ecosystems. It’s like an immense lab that helps scientists study our environment and factors that may impact it such as climate change.

Sea Turtle Scientist, Stephen R. Swinburne

Sea turtles have existed for 110 million years. But in the past 500 years, all seven species of sea turtle have become either threatened or endangered, largely due to human activity. Scientists are working on St. Kitts Island in the Caribbean to preserve leatherback turtles and their nests. Learn about some creative ideas scientists developed to help them.

The Octopus Scientists: Exploring the Mind of a Mollusk, Sy Montgomery

Octopuses don’t live long, but scientists are discovering how clever they are- especially considering they don’t have much time to learn! Octopuses can solve puzzles and individuals will find unique ways of solving problems. They can distinguish between faces of scientists wearing the exact same uniform. Peer inside the mysterious minds of these mollusks.

More recent titles in the series include:

Mission to Pluto: The First Visit to an Ice Dwarf and the Kuiper Belt, Mary Kay Carson
Crow Smarts: Inside the Brain of the World’s Brightest Bird, Pamela S. Turner
The Great White Shark Scientist, Sy Montgomery
The Call of the Osprey, Dorothy Hinshaw Patent

- Suzanne LaPierre, City of Fairfax Library

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Seven Brave Women, Seven Great Books for Young Readers

March is Women’s History Month, and we have a few suggestions to introduce even the littlest readers to the accomplishments of great women.

Me… Jane , Patrick McDonnell (preschool & up)
This appealing picture book introduces young children to the work of primatologist Jane Goodall– starting with her favorite childhood toy, a stuffed chimpanzee named Jubilee.

Queen of the Falls, Chris Van Allsburg (K & up)
Annie Taylor, a sixty-two year old widow, resolved to find fame and fortune by being the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel. This story of bravery is masterfully enhanced by an award-winning illustrator.

Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War Hero, Marissa Moss (grades 1 & up)
Sarah Emma Edmonds dressed as a man and joined the Army during the Civil War to fight the Confederates. She also worked as a nurse on the battlefield and served as a spy.

Maggie L. Walker, Moira Rose Donohue (grades 2 & up)
This great Virginian of African-American ancestry became the first female president and founder of one of the oldest banks for Black Americans in the late 1800s.

I am Malala, Malala Yousafzai (grades 5 & up)
This young reader’s version of the famous teenager’s memoir tells of a decision Malala made when she was only ten years old to fight for peace and democracy in her country. As an advocate for education, she became the youngest person ever to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

Ida M. Turnbell: The Woman Who Challenged Big Business- and Won!, Emily Arnold McCully (grades 6 & up)
This award-winning book tells one of the first investigative journalists whose articles on the Standard Oil Trust, run by John D. Rockefeller, revealed to the public the unethical, even illegal, practices that led to Rockefeller's success.

Ten Days a Madwoman: The Daring Life and Turbulent Times of the Original “Girl” Reporter, Nellie Bly, Deborah Noyes (grades 6 & up)
Also known for circling the globe in a record 72 days, this book describes one of Nellie Bly’s audacious feats of journalism. Feigning insanity, she had herself committed to a notorious asylum to investigate and expose abuses of human rights.

Do you have a favorite book about an amazing woman? Please let us know in the comments field.

-Suzanne LaPierre, City of Fairfax Regional Library