Tag Archives: Research

Catastrophic Science

2 Nov

One of the best things about science class is when you get to do the fun experiments. You know which ones we’re talking about—the ones where things may get a little messy. That’s why when we saw The Book of Potentially Catastrophic Science: 50 Experiments for Daring Young Scientists, we knew we had to offer it in our Book Clubs because what student, or anyone interested in science for that matter, wouldn’t want to try out the awesome experiments inside? What’s really great about this book is that it goes into the history and science behind each experiment so you can really learn how and why each experiment is important. From making your own X-ray machine to making a soda bottle rocket based on Robert Goddard’s experiment, there is something that is awesome and daring for all young budding scientists.

In fact, we were so excited about this book that we had to try an experiment out for ourselves. Check out Experiment #34: Robert Goddard’s Soda Bottle Rocket.

Want some more catastrophic science? You can find this HUGE PAPERBACK in November’s TAB.

Comics in the Classroom

13 Oct

Call them what you will—comic books, graphic novels, illustrated guides—but these formats are permeating the mainstream. On Monday, we posted a mini picture post from our adventures at New York Comic Con this past weekend, and you guys had plenty to say! The comments covered everything from comic books being just like TV and video games to comic books being a great gateway into reading. Just like any other medium, comics are both these things and many others.

We were lucky enough to attend a lecture given by Scott Westerfeld on Sunday. He spent a few minutes talking about how he decided to write a series of novels (the Leviathan trilogy) with illustrations, and reminded us that, historically, most novels were once illustrated. On the right, you’ll see illustrations from a late 18thcentury edition of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. He noted an edition of The War of the Worlds that heralded the illustrator’s name far larger than that of H.G. Wells! Illustrations are beginning to regain the reputation they lost for being just as legitimate as the words themselves.

Comic books aren’t comic books because of their content—they are comic books because of the heavy use of illustrations to denote action that interacts with the text. They can contain any type of story or information: Comic books can be about superheroes or space aliens, but they can also be about history (as with the Maus graphic novels) or science (as with The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook)! For some children, sequential art makes difficult concepts easier to grasp.

Elephant & Piggie, a series of beginning readers by award-winning illustrator Mo Willems, feature common comic-book styles while still using the repetitive text and illustrations classically used in the genre. Compare these illustrations below: On the top, you have Elephant & Piggie and underneath, you have a strip from Scholastic’s own middle-grade graphic novel series, Amulet. Both use sequential art and speech balloons while also containing positive themes that students can relate to…but one is a reader and one is a comic.

Books for older children are also embracing traditional comic-book characteristics. Did you know that Jeff Kinney actually started the ever-successful Diary of a Wimpy Kid as a Web comic? Now the very same series has kids thrilled about reading! It also deals with issues kids face every day: bullying, growing up, friendship—look how excited these kids were to get their copies of the fourth book, Dog Days.

Graphic novels, illustrated guides, comic books—however you want to refer to them—have evolved into an excellent reading tool. Many of them cover complex issues and concepts in an accessible design. Some of you noted that this format has aided students with learning disabilities, others mentioned that these books were a great way to get kids interested in reading. After reading your comments, we decided to put together a list of classroom-appropriate graphic novels that cover a variety of subjects. If you have any suggestions, definitely leave a comment! We’d love to see what books you use!

Ghostopolis | Tab October
Bone | October
Amulet | Teens September
Resistance | Teens September
Maus | Teens September
Diary of a Wimpy Kid | Pre-order #5
Calvin and Hobbes | Fall
Dork Diaries | Arrow October
Popularity Papers | Arrow September
Adventures of Ook and Gluk | Lucky September
Elephant & Piggie Pack | SeeSaw October

Reading at Home. Discuss.

10 Aug

Life these days is a whirlwind. You wake up, scramble to get everyone out the door for school, eat breakfast on your commute to work, make it through the work-day, pick up the kids, take them to their after-school activities, pick them up, make dinner, check your email, help the kids with their homework, and collapse into bed only to start the day all over again. Are we forgetting anything? Probably.

You may ask, during a day like this, who has time to read?

We all do.

Read Skippyjon Jones when you’re waiting for dinner to finish cooking. Ask your child to read Junie B. Jones at the counter with you as you all prep for the next day ahead. Snuggle in bed with Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  Make family time reading time, and you’ll all win.

Research has shown that reading at home for just 20 minutes every day can make a difference in your child’s life…so get on the reading train if you aren’t on it already.

What are your tips to make reading at home part of your family’s daily routine?

“Boys Trail Girls In Reading; Can Fart Jokes Help?”

23 Jul

We know that the headline (from an actual article earlier this week) is controversial; we’re glad it grabbed your attention.  But now we want to know-how many farting noises will you put up with to have your boys grab a book instead of the remote?

Reluctant readers have turned the reading switch ON with the help of our friends Greg, Brian, Ook, Dan, and Ryan.* Granted, these may not be the studies greatest literary characters ever put down on paper, but right now, some parents are hoping “grossology” will help close the 10% gender reading gap (yes, have shown it to be this much) between the sexes.  So we ask the question to you all, “Boys trail girls in reading; can fart jokes help?”

We here at Book Clubs march by the drum of get ’em reading, get ’em learning.  Reading for pleasure and encouraging children to choose their own books that they can’t wait to read…well, that’s the first step in a lifelong love of reading.  And, at the end of the day, I for one will embrace the fart jokes.  Will you?

* Can you can name all of the titles of the works our friends have appeared in?