Science vs. Science Fiction
By: Reading Rockets
Have Growing Readers delivered each month right to your inbox!
(In English & Spanish) Sign up here >
Over time, young readers choose lots of different types of reading materials. Readers with an interest in fiction often stumble upon fantasy books, and a particular type of fantasy writing called science fiction.
Science fiction is a type of fiction where the stories revolve around science and technology of the future. Science fiction texts are often set in the future, in space, in a different world, or in a different universe or dimension. As exciting as these books can be, it's useful to remind your child that while science fiction may be based loosely on scientific truth, it is still fiction. Because the content of the book may be unfamiliar, it's important to keep the conversation flowing when talking about what's happening in the story. "Could that really happen in today's world?" "Does what's happening seem real or make believe?"
Science fiction books
The Golden Duck Awards award excellence in children's science fiction literature. The organization also provides book suggestions for children's science fiction. Here are three recommended picture books:
Commander Toad and the Big Black Hole
Commander Toad and his crew encounter a black hole while leapfrogging across the galaxy. Toad resorts to a secret weapon from his past. (Age level: 4 and up)
When the thing from outer space visits earth, it is taken first for a trick-or-treater and then for a robot. Buddy McGee takes the thing home — only to discover it is from outer space. (Age level: 5 and up)
Alistair and the Alien Invasion
As the boy genius blasts off in his space ship in search of the most unusual plant life he can find, he spots an alien vessel heading toward Earth. (Age level: 6 and up)
To view the entire list, visit the Golden Duck Awards.
Science books, in contrast, are an important way for young children to learn about the real wonders of the natural world outside of their neighborhood. Science books for young children often integrate science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Each year, the National Science Teachers Association, in collaboration with the Children's Book Council, announces a list of Outstanding Science Trade Books. For 2012, the Outstanding Science Trade books include:
B Is for Blue Planet
This book explains what we do know about our planet and what more we have to learn. Explore Earth's different ecosystems, discover geological wonders, learn about extreme weather like hurricanes, and much more. (Age level: 5 and up)
Bug Shots: The Good, the Bad, and the Bugly
Bugs bite, drink blood, and steal food from gardens and fields. They can even kill plants, animals, and, occasionally, people. Is bugging a crime? The author compiles "rap sheets" on different kinds of bugs and takes a very close look at insects through photo micrographs that magnify insect parts from 10 to 300,000 times their actual sizes. (Age level: 8 and up)
Baby Mammoth Mummy: Frozen in Time
Meet Lyuba, the most perfectly preserved baby mammoth ever discovered! Found lying along a riverside 31,000 years after her birth, Lyuba provides a fresh look at prehistoric life in Siberia. Find out how scientists learn more about mammoths and the ice age using the newest science tools, including paleontology and forensic science. (Age level: 8 and up)
To view the entire list, download National Science Teacher Association's 2012 Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12. (PDF).
Whether it's science or science fiction, these recommended books are sure to give you and your reader lots to talk about!
Reading Rockets (2012)