Scientific and Engineering Practices in Children’s Fiction

With more than 700 books read so far, I’m starting to notice some pretty consistent patterns.  These patterns have given me a better understanding of what I like in a picture book, and what Bubba likes in his picture books (at 2 years old).  They’ve also helped me determine what Bubba and I don’t like in our picture books.

Another thing I’m starting to learn is what publishers of children’s books think will sell.  Obviously, there will always be a lot of fairy tale, princess, superhero, TV, and movie character books.  I’m also noticing that leprechauns, dinosaurs, and certain other animals keep showing up again and again, too.

I’ve found it very interesting – learning these types of things – but I’m also a little concerned that there are a couple things that really seem to be missing when it comes to fictional picture books – in particular, science and engineering practices.

Yes, I know that sounds like a ridiculous statement, and don’t get me wrong – I love a completely nonsensical story as much as the next person… and I know there are books about scientists and engineers out there.  However, books that feature scientific and/or engineering practices seem to be few and far between.  Why is that?  As a teacher of 1st graders, I know that kids LOVE learning about science… so, why not feed that natural curiosity?

Why aren’t publishers finding more stories that feature these skills?  A book could feature a skill and still have a princess, be funny, rhyme, and be full of adventure.

I understand that there are plenty of non-fiction books that feature these skills, but lets be honest… kids love fiction a whole lot more than non-fiction.

It would just be nice if children’s fiction focused a little more on some of the “Scientific and Engineering Practices,” which are:

Asking questions and defining problems

Developing and using models

Planning and carrying out investigations

Analyzing and interpreting data

Using mathematics and computational thinking

Constructing explanations and designing solutions

Engaging in argument from evidence

Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

Maybe someday this will happen… a guy can dream, right?

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