There are two common misconceptions that many children, and some parents, have about science. First, they think it's boring, and second, they think it's just for nerds or "brainy kids". In fact, all children are curious about their world, and there are many terrific children's books that make science interesting and understandable to a child.
Chemistry, which talks about the atoms and molecules that are part of everything a child sees around him or her, can be a good way to introduce children to science. In 2009, several new chemistry books for children were published. Here is a look at a few of them.
For younger readers, a good introduction to chemistry is "The Adventures of Adam the Atom" from Tate Publishing. Adam, a hydrogen atom, must deal with a bully that wants his electron. In doing so, Adam learns how atoms interact and combine to form new things.
"Matter", written by Jane Weir, is a good book for the older reader. It is part of the Mission: Science book series published by Compass Point Books. Aimed at grades 4 - 6, this is a more in-depth look at the science of chemistry. Atoms, molecules, and the different states of matter are among the topics covered. Illustrations include drawings and color photographs, and additional resources, such as a list of important people in chemistry, are provided.
"Marie Curie", part of the Kids Can Read Series from Kids Can Press, is a biography of Marie Curie, for readers in grades 1 - 3. Curie was the first person to win two Nobel Prizes, including one for chemistry. She lifted herself out of poverty to become one of the most important women in the history of science. Her life story will inspire all budding scientists, especially young girls.
More adventurous children (and parents) might enjoy the "Extreme Secret Formula Lab" from Smart Lab. A 24-page book contains 20 experiments that children ages 8 and older can do at home. The book is fully illustrated, and comes with all the materials needed for a child to create his or her own laboratory, including test tubes, a beaker, and glow-in-the-dark powder.
The scientists of tomorrow are today's children. Not every child will grow up to be a scientist, but science and technology will surely continue to play an increasing role in their lives. Introducing children to chemistry and the other sciences early, in age-appropriate ways, may not create a future Nobel Prize winner (although it could!), but it will help them better understand the ever-changing world they will find themselves living in.