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Sharing Books, Talking Science

Exploring Scientific Concepts with Children's Literature

All books offer possibilities for talk about science in the illustrations and text once you know how to look for them. With Sharing Books Talking Science, you will have the tools and confidence to explore scientific concepts with your students.

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Full Description

Science is everywhere, in everything we do, see, and read. Books—all books—offer possibilities for talk about science in the illustrations and text once you know how to look for them. Children’s literature is a natural avenue to explore the seven crosscutting concepts described in the Next Generation Science Standards*, and with guidance from Valerie Bang-Jensen and Mark Lubkowitz, you will learn to develop the mindset necessary to think like a scientist, and then help your students think, talk, and read like scientists. 

Sharing Books Talking Science is an engaging and user-friendly guide that provides practical, real world understandings of complex scientific concepts using children’s literature. By demonstrating how to work in a very familiar and comfortable teaching context—read aloud—to address what may be less familiar and comfortable content—scientific concepts—Valerie and Mark empower teachers to use just about any book in their classroom to help deepen students' understanding of the world.

Valerie and Mark supply you with everything you need to know to get to the heart of each concept, including a primer, questions and strategies to spot a concept, and ways to prompt students to see and talk about it. Each chapter offers a list of suggested titles (many of which you probably already have) to help you get started right away, as well as “topic spotlight” sections that help you connect the concepts to familiar topics such as eating, seasons, bridges, size, and water. With Sharing Books Talking Science, you will have the tools and confidence to explore scientific concepts with your students. Learn how to “talk science” with any book so that you can infuse your curriculum with scientific thinking...even when you aren’t teaching science.

*Next Generation Science Standards is a registered trademark of Achieve. Neither Achieve nor the lead states and partners that developed the Next Generation Science Standards were involved in the production of this product, and do not endorse it.

Additional Resource Information

(click any section below to continue reading)


Foreword by Lester Laminack viii

Acknowledgments x

1 Exploring Scientific Concepts with Children’s Literature 1

2 Pattern: The Superhero of Science 11

3 Cause and Effect: Making Ripples 29

4 Structure and Function: Appreciating the Paper Clip 42

5 Scale, Proportion, and Quantity: The Goldilocks Scale 58

6 Systems and System Models: Life in a Fishbowl 75

7 Energy and Matter: Let’s Get the Ball Rolling 92

8 Stability and Change: What’s the New Normal? 108

Afterword Are You Ready for the Championship of Crosscutting Concepts? 123

Children’s Literature Cited 125

In Depth

We have organized the book by dedicating a chapter to each of the seven crosscutting concepts. Chapters 2, 3, and 4 (pattern, cause and effect, and structure and function) are the foundational concepts for thinking like a scientist and for this reason we suggest starting with these. The remaining four concepts (scale, systems and system models, energy and matter, and stability and change) build on the first three and are related because they address the nature of a system. Because the concepts build on each other, they will make the most sense if you approach them in order.

Each chapter follows a pattern: In the first half we offer a primer titled Learning and Teaching the Science, basically everything you need to know to bring this concept into your classroom. If you are the type of person who rushes right to the “quick start” when you buy a new device or appliance, you’ll feel right at home with our quick start, which presents a condensed definition and go-to questions that will get you to the heart of each concept. The primer is more than just the content that defines the concept, so we also provide strategies to help you spot the concept and ways to prompt your students to see it. Even if you are completely unfamiliar with the concept, by the end of the primer, you will have the tools and confidence to explore the idea with your students.

— From Chapter 1



Sharing Books, Talking Science is a NSTA Recommends title! Click here to read more.

Related PD Services


  • Invite Valerie Bang-Jensen to speak at your school, district, or conference through Heinemann Speakers.
Email if you would like to contact Valerie Bang-Jensen directly about professional development support.


Email if you would like to contact Mark Lubkowitz directly about professional development support.