09/11/2015

The Science of Story Time

24:14 minutes

The ritual of bedtime reading isn’t just about getting junior to (finally) go to sleep. Studies show reading with kids has positive effects ranging from increased vocabulary to greater success reading independently. What is it about Goodnight, Moon and If You Give a Moose a Muffin that boosts children’s literacy? Psychologist Jessica Montag says it might have to do with the words that kids’ books contain. She walks Ira through her recent study in Psychological Science.

And if you’re looking for a great book to share with the child in your life, why not make it a great science book? Brain Pickings editor Maria Popova and kids’ book author Jacob Berkowitz join Ira to help compile a reading list for science-curious kids.

Share your own favorite kids’ science books in the comments below!

Segment Guests

Jessica Montag

Jessica Montag is an assistant research psychologist at the University of California, Riverside.

Maria Popova

Maria Popova is the editor and founder of BrainPickings.org and a MIT Futures of Entertainment Fellow. She is based in Brooklyn, New York.

Jacob Berkowitz

Science writer Jacob Berkowitz is the author of  Jurassic Poop: What Dinosaurs (And Others) Left Behind (Kids Can Press, 2006) and The Stardust Revolution: The New Story of Our Origin in the Stars” (Prometheus Books, 2012). He’s based in Ottawa, Canada.

Heard on the Air

Maria Popova’s science books-for-kids picks:

(1) You Are Stardust, by Elin Kelsey and Soyeon Kim (2012)
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(2) I, Leonardo, by Ralph Steadman (1983)
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(3) Me…Jane, by Patrick McDonnell (2011)
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(4) Evolution: A Coloring Book, by Annu Kilpeläinen (2014)
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(5) The Amazing Discoveries of Ibn Sina, by Fatima Sharafeddine and Intelaq Mohammed Ali (2015)
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(6) Summer Birds: The Butterflies of Maria Merian, by Margarita Engle and Julie Pashkis (2010)
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(7) Big Questions from Little People & Simple Answers From Great Minds, Ed. Gemma Elwin Harris (2012)
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Jacob Berkowitz’s picks:

(1) Buried Sunlight: How Fossil Fuels Have Changed the Earth, by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm (2014)
Read more on Scientists’ Bookshelf

(2) Next Time You See the Moon, by Emily Morgan (2014)
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(3) Body Bones, by Shelley Rotner and David A. White (2014)
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(4) Get the Scoop on Animal Puke, by Dawn Cusick (2014)
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(5) Red Madness: How a Medical Mystery Changed What We Eat, by Gail Jarrow (2014)
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(6) Chernobyl’s Wild Kingdom: Life in the Death Zone, by Rachel Johnson (2014)
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Recommended by our callers:

Big Bang!: The Tongue-Tickling Tale of a Speck That Became Spectacular, by Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano and Michael Carroll

Chameleon, Chameleon, by Joy Cowley and Nic Bishop

Girls Who Looked Under Rocks, by Jeannine Atkins and Paula Conner

Feathers for Lunch, by Lois Ehlert

Meet the Producer

About Annie Minoff

Annie Minoff is a producer for Science Friday. She’s visited Olympic ski jumps and a nuclear reactor, all in the name of science.

  • Thomai Dion

    What a wonderful post! I hope I’m not too late with my comment; I am absolutely thrilled to have found this! I am an author that has written and illustrated my own educational science books for babies, toddlers, and young children (pre-K and elementary school). As both a mom to a toddler as well as a pharmacist by trade, my books thus far have focused on explaining topics like biology and the scientific method. I have 3 “Think-A-Lot-Tot” books currently available and several others in the works (because I truly believe there is no concept too abstract or advanced for tots that think a lot!) —

    Think-A-Lot-Tots: The Animal Cell
    Think-A-Lot-Tots: The Neuron
    Think-A-Lot-Tots: My Science Lab Notebook

    I have a 4th book that will be available within the next few weeks (microorganisms!) and am excited to say I am currently working on a 5th (the atom and elements; a little more physics / chemistry-focused). You can find my currently available books on Amazon via my author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/thomaidion

    Thank you so much for your time and for creating this post! I hope someone out there who has a similar love for all things science enjoys my books as much as I’ve enjoyed creating them for my little one.

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