Earlier this year, I recommended Asia Citro’s Zoey and Sassafras series, which is a delightful chapter book series that engages children in using the scientific method to solve problems with magical creatures. Today, I bring you Kimberly Derting’s and Shelli R. Johannes’s “Loves Science” series, a very similar picture book series that makes science experiments accessible and engaging to young readers. Read on to see why my girls loves these picture books and early readers!
*** Affiliate links used.
Cece Loves Science by Kimberly Derting and Shelli R. Johannes, illustrated by Vashti Harrison — The first book in the series, Cece Loves Science, features Cece, a spunky young scientist with her own lab where she works out answers to questions such as “Why?”, “How?”, and “What if?” Tasked by her teacher to pick a scientific question to investigate, Cece and her best friend, Isaac, decide to study in the field of zoology, eventually landing on “Do dogs eat vegetables?” As they work through the scientific process of building their experiment and coming to a conclusion, Harrion’s illustrations show their progress on “Ms. Curie’s Science Project Worksheet,” which introduces readers to terms like observations, variables, and data. Budding scientists will delight in the fact that Cece’s teacher is named Ms. Curie and her dog is Einstein (Derting and Johannes also include Caroline Herschel, George Washington Carver, Thomas Edison, and Jane Goodall in the story if you need more conversation starters about scientists and their accomplishments). Back matter includes a spread of “Cece’s Science Facts,” a glossary of scientific terms and people presented throughout the story. Derting, Johannes, and Harrison teamed up for a sequel, Cece Loves Science and Adventure, but we haven’t read this one yet.
Libby Loves Science by Derting and Johannes, ilustrated by Joelle Murray — The “Loves Science” series grew earlier this summer when Libby Loves Science was published in June. Libby also loves science, but rather than zoology, her passion lies in chemistry (mostly through cooking!). She loves to mix, pour, measure, and stir to see what she can create. As a member of the science club, Libby and her friends Finn and Rosa volunteer to run the science booth at the school’s fall festival. They set up materials needed for students to run three fun experiments (giant bubbles, fluffy slime, and a rocket launch), and Derting and Johannes were thoughtful enough to include materials and instructions for each as a part of the narrative. Though their booth isn’t as successful as they’d like, Libby learns a few important lessons along the way, such as “mistakes can lead to discoveries,” celebrating others’ victories over your own, and looking for the positive when you’re feeling down about your performance. Even so, the story never reads as didactic and is instead purely entertaining. Back matter once again includes “Libby’s Science Facts,” a glossary of scientists and science/chemistry terms introduced in the book.
Cece Loves Science: Push and Pull by Derting and Johannes, illustrated in the style of Harrison — Derting and Johannes have also authored one early reader for the series, and it looks like more are coming our way in the next year! For those readers just breaking into reading longer books on their own, Cece Loves Science: Push and Pull is written with good accessibility (the text is more spread out and easy to follow than in the picture books, but the scientific information is still strong. Derting and Johannes also include two experiments studying the forces of push and pull, as well as a small glossary of scientific terms at the back.
The whole series is wonderfully diverse, featuring interracial families, highlighting women in science, and celebrating friendships between boys and girls. My girls love the stories themselves, and I am delighted by how much science they learn (without even realizing it) and are inspired to do themselves (we’ve got grand plans to do all 4 experiments outlined in Libby Loves Science over the next few weeks). Though Derting is an accomplished author, she did major in biology, and her deep understanding of scientific processes shines in each book.
What other books, picture or chapter, do you love for inspiring scientific exploration?