Monday, 18 May 2015

Young People's Science Writing

When I relaunched www.popularscience.co.uk a while ago because I was having so much trouble with WordPress, I made the difficult decision of dropping children's science books from the site. Although we'd tried to cover them in the past, they always took second place, and I felt we couldn't do them justice.

One side effect of this is that, while the site continues to cover the adult Royal Society Prize for Science Books, the prize for books aimed at young people is now ignored - so I thought I'd give it a mention here.

The shortlist has just been announced with suitably impressive sounding contenders:

365 Science Activities, Various Authors (Usborne)

The judges said: “Children are hard-wired to do experiments, to handle things with their own hands, to get a feel for how things work and why they work. This book is a wonderful resource for children who want to create their own experiments and find out more about how everything around them works.”

Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor, by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Brian Biggs (Amulet)

The judges said: “It’s a great balance of English and Science and if you are interested in either of those things, this is really the book to read this year.”

Jake’s Bones, by Jake McGowan-Lowe (Octopus Books)

The judges said: “This book has a wonderful personal feel. It’s the story of one boy’s collection and his own fascination with bones. It will push children not just to learn from a book but also to go out and explore the countryside.”

Night Sky Watcher, by Raman Prinja (QED Publishing Inc.)

The judges said: “Night Sky Watcher is a great introduction to stars and will definitely get you out looking for them. It introduces you to well-known stars and constellations like The Plough and Leo and then encourages you to star hop to planets and  galaxies you may not have come across before, all the while explaining our amazing universe.” 

Tiny: The Invisible World of Microbes, by Nicola Davies (Walker Books)

The judges said: “You might not have even heard of microbes before reading this book however it brings to life beautifully what they are and why they are so important. It’s also an absolutely gorgeous picture book.” 

Utterly Amazing Science, by Professor Robert Winston (DK)

The judges said: “It’s a lovely book. The pop-ups beautifully illustrate a whole wide range of science from atomic science to volcanic eruptions. We also think the hand-on experiments it suggests will be very popular with a young audience.”

The winner will be announced in November.

As it's always interesting to know who is involved, the judges this year are:
  • Professor John Burland FRS – Emeritus Professor of Soil Mechanics, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Imperial College London
  • Dr Stephanie Schorge – Royal Society University Research Fellow in the Institute of Neurology, University College London
  • Katie Thistleton – Television presenter and host of the CBBC Book Club
  • Dr Shaun Long – English teacher at Royal Society Associate School, Bodmin College, Cornwall
  • Julia Eccleshare – Writer, broadcaster and lecturer, and the Guardian's children's books editor

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