Children's Literature and the Science Curriculum

Article excerpt

A quality children's literature program needs to be correlated with ongoing science lessons and units of study. It can enhance and enrich the science curriculum. Pupils tend to enjoy reading library books and the the literature may assist pupils to explore topics in greater depth. In addition to science experiments, demonstrations, and multi-media, children's literature is another avenue of learning science concepts and generalizations. Voluntarily, pupils may pursue personal interests and purposes in science (Ediger and Rao, 2005).

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An attractive bulletin board display showing selected book jackets of new library books should be readily visible to children in the classroom. The science teacher needs to refer to the bulletin board while introducing library books to the class. This provides readiness for choosing a library book to read. Subject matter presented provides background information for reading. Pupils then have an overview of content in a library book, making it easier to comprehend. During spare time in the school day, pupils may read science content. While supervising university student teachers in the public schools, the writer experienced the use of library book content in a science lesson discussion. Thus instead of using the basal text, pupils presented ideas on "The Changing Surface of the Earth" from related library book content. The discussion was engaging and lively with comments from almost each pupil. Smaller groups make it possible for more frequency of participation by each child and this was observed in a different observational visit. A good library of science books is a must! It is a way of further securing pupil interest in different topics in science (Ediger, 2007-2008).

There are more approaches in stressing children's literature in science. During story time, the teacher needs to read aloud to pupils carefully chosen library books on science content. He/she needs to read with voice inflection, appropriate pitch, and enunciation. Obtaining and maintaining learner attention is important. If children are of primary school age, it is good to show the related illustrations as content is being read orally. This assists these young children to understand subject matter read. The speed of oral reading needs to engage good listening. Periodically, the teacher needs to ask interesting questions pertaining to content read. These questions and forthcoming answers might well propel pupils to acquire further information on their own (Ray, 2006).

The content read aloud may motivate pupils to select a problem area to solve. The problem takes time to solve and involves deliberation and time to secure necessary information. The library books, science experiments, and the internet, among other reference sources, may be used. Critical thinking needs to be emphasized in separating facts from opinions, fantasy from reality, and accurate from inaccurate content. Objective information then needs to be secured. Individual or small group endeavors may be involved in problem solving. Creative thinking, too, may be stressed in coming up with new solutions to problems. Creative thinking also needs to be encouraged because improvements in school and in society come about due to novel, unique ideas developed. Thus, library books read to children do help learners to branch out in their thinking (National Research Council, 1996).

As another science library book activity, a certain period of time needs to be set aside during the school day for pupils to read a self selected library book. Generally, a pupil will choose a book of personal interest and on his/her reading level. Pupils tend to select sequential library books which are meaningful and they perceive purpose in their reading. Individualized reading motivates learners to read since they have personal ownership due to self selection of reading materials. Developing a life long interest in reading and learning about science is salient (See American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1993). …