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More Science for the Children

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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A long time ago in a place very far away… I was thinking about writing science children’s books. I did some research at the local bookstore. It seemed as though children’s science books were either overwhelming picture encyclopedias with captions and loads of disjointed facts, or they were really slow, dry accounts of how butterflies emerge from their respective cocoons. Yawn.

I’m obviously not the target audience, as I am not 4 feet tall with an oral fixation. But really. Surely we can do better than this, right?

After a few freelance writing gigs for educational publishers, learning the ways of writing at a first grade level, I started to feel like I might be able to write what I considered a damn decent children’s book about science. But what topic to tackle first?

After spending an embarrassing amount of time mulling this over, I just recently bit the bullet and wrote a short children’s book about cells. It’s not a narrative story. The cells are not going on a grand adventure or anything like that. But the book does cover a few different types of cells we humans have: skin cells, blood cells, brain cells, muscle cells, immune cells, etc.

The drawings are incredibly simplified (and embellished with faces), but they are reminiscent of the cells’ actual shapes and textures.

As far as science education goes, as a writer and former science teacher, I think that you need to be straightforward, sometimes silly, but never condescending. I’d like to think this book doesn’t talk down to our little ones, as this is honestly how I would explain what cells are to a young’un, and I don’t do baby talk. That’s patronizing.

What do you think?

You can buy it on Amazon.

Katie McKissick About the Author: Katie McKissick is a former high school biology teacher turned science writer and cartoonist based in Los Angeles, CA. Her first book is called What's in Your Genes. You can find more of work at Follow on Twitter @beatricebiology.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. Page J 8:54 am 07/18/2013

    Our society is sorely lacking in scientific literacy, so unfortunately some adults may find this book helpful as well.

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  2. 2. eurotimbr 6:35 pm 07/22/2013

    Looks like a good approach to me. You might consider adding a sentence that says what the cell does, in cases where this is not obvious.

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