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Fascinating nonfiction for STEM and more


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Benjamin Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

How very true that is. No matter what happens, the one thing that can’t be taken from you is your mind. And the more knowledge you have, the better prepared you are to tackle the hurdles that life throws in your way.

The key to getting children turned-on to nonfiction and therefore learning is to choose books that impart knowledge in a well-written, fast-paced and engaging way. Today’s reviewed books are good examples of just that. Make sure to include terrific nonfiction books in your weekly mix of reading materials. Planting those seeds early in life will yield dividends so great they can’t be counted.

Books to borrow

The following book is available at many public libraries.


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“The Whale Scientists: Solving the Mystery of Whale Strandings” by Fran Hodgkins, photos and illustrations – various credits, Houghton Mifflin, 64 pages

Read aloud: age 9 and older.

Read yourself: age 9 and older.

Whales were once hunted so aggressively that these majestic animals almost vanished completely from the Earth before humans learned to study whales rather than kill them. Science has taken us far in helping to understand whales, but one mystery that is still remains to be solved is whale strandings.

Why would the world’s largest mammal do something that would most likely cause it to die? Are whale strandings caused by manmade noises in the ocean from sonar? Is the weather to blame? Is it pollution? Why do more whale strandings occur in New Zealand and Cape Cod than any other place? Scientists are trying to find the answer.

Complete with vivid photographs and diagrams, a glossary of terms and an index, this fascinating, fast-paced book will capture readers and perhaps act as the catalyst for future marine biologists.

Librarian’s Choice

Library: Reading Public Library, 100 S. Fifth St., Reading

Executive Library Director: Melissa Adams

Supervisor of children’s services: Nancy Maurer

Choices this week: “My Little Book of Dinosaurs” by Dougal Dixon; “Living in Space” by Kathryn Clay; Trains by Michael Johnstone

books to buy

The following books are available at favorite bookstores.

“Honeybee Rescue: A Backyard Drama” by Loree Griffin Burns, photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz, Charlesbridge, 2022, 40 pages, $16.99 hardcover

Read aloud: age 5 – 8.

Read yourself: age 7 – 8.

When Mr. Connery discovered a colony of honeybees had moved into his ramshackle barn, he knew one of his colonies of honeybees he kept to pollinate his plants had outgrown its home in their wooden hive. The honeybees had swarmed, and Mr. Connery needed professional help to move the bees from this unsafe location. And so, he called beekeeper Mr. Nelson to help with the job and return the bees to safely relocate the bees to their original, expanded home.

This fascinating book helps readers/listeners understand why honeybees swarm, the structure of a hive and why it’s important to keep the bees safe throughout the year, how bees and their hives can be professionally relocated and so much more. Complete with an interview in the back of the book with bee rescuer Jon Nelson, engaging text and gorgeous photographs throughout, “Honeybee Rescue: A Backyard Drama” is thoroughly engaging and a real treat to read many times over.

“Mushroom Rain” by Laura K. Zimmermann, illustrated by Jamie Green, takes the reader into the fascinating world of mushrooms.(Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press)

“Mushroom Rain” by Laura K. Zimmermann, illustrated by Jamie Green, Sleeping Bear Press, 2022, 32 pages, $17.99 hardcover

Read aloud: age 4 – 8.

Read yourself: age 7 – 8.

Enter the mysterious, fascinating and sometimes bizarre world of mushrooms. These wonderful fungi are not the lowly species most would think. As a matter of fact, mushrooms are more closely related to animals than plants. Boasting a wide variety of shapes, colors, sizes, scents and more, mushrooms are a delicacy enjoyed by many creatures, including humans, of course.

Learn how multiple mushrooms, scatter their spores like flowers scatter their seeds, and how some mushroom spores are caught by the wind, seeding the clouds that create rain. And that’s just the beginning of what is learned in this marvelous offering, “Mushroom Rain.”

Get ready, get set — after reading this incredible book, you’ll never look at mushrooms the same way again!

Nationally syndicated, Kendal Rautzhan writes and lectures on children’s literature. She can be reached at kendal.rautzhan27@gmail.com.

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