The Teacher Tip
Reading for Cause Like a Scientist
March 10, 2017
Adapted from Sharing Books, Talking Science: Exploring Scientific Concepts with Children’s Literature by Valerie Bong-Jensen and Mark Lubkowitz
In realms where pigs can build houses and characters can turn into owls, fly and play Quidditch, authors create their own rules. In the world, we physically inhabit, if something happens, it is because the rules of biology, chemistry, and physics caused it to happen. This is a powerful realization because it means that all effects can teach us something about the rules. To read like a scientist is to ask, “What can I learn about the rules that govern the natural and engineered world from these illustrations and text?” A rainbow, magical as it seems, follows the rules of physics, which means that you can understand why, how, and when it appears. After learning that bats navigate through echolocation, students might marvel “That’s real? So cool!” When students read like scientists, their next question will be “How do they do that?”
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