It’s hard to believe we’re already halfway through summer break! We’ve been enjoying some family travel and lots of outdoor play, but I have to say that with the heat I’ve also been encouraging the kids to slow down in the hottest part of the day. These dog day afternoons are a perfect time for them to come inside or hang out in the shade learning new things and exploring new interests.
DK has a fantastic assortment of reference books in their Summer of STEM Boutique that encourage kids to keep their brains sharp over the summer. We’ve been reading our DK books and learning about trees, medieval castles, space, coding, and the science behind cool magic tricks. We think your family will love these books too!
Click on the titles or cover pictures to see these books on Amazon.
The Magic and Mystery of Trees by Dr. Jen Green and Claire McElfatrick
Where do trees live? What do they eat? How do they reproduce? How do they defend themselves from predators?
DK’s newest illustrated reference book is perfect for younger readers with a slightly smaller size and thick, tear-resistant pages. Kids will learn to identify different types and species of trees, and discover why some trees’ leaves change colour in the fall. Beautiful illustrations show different tree habitats and the wonderful variety of flora and fauna that make their homes in the branches and roots of trees.
Did you know that trees have special senses that allow them to feel temperature, find sunlight, “hear” running water, and even determine which animals are eating their leaves? Did you know that trees in a forest work together to keep each other strong by passing food and water to other trees via their roots?
Examine the life cycle of trees from seed to sapling to full-grown tree to a source of food for insects, fungi, and other plants once they die. Learn about the role that trees play in keeping the planet healthy and how humans rely on trees for food, medicines, and other resources. Back matter includes a list of national and U.S. state trees (USA), as well as a glossary of terms and an index.
Stephen Biesty’s Cross-Sections Castle by Richard Platt and Stephen Biesty
Back in print 25 years after its original publication, Stephen Biesty’s stunning illustrations and cross-sections are still delighting and engaging kids everywhere. History comes alive in this beautifully illustrated children’s book about life in a 14th-century castle.
Look inside to examine castle construction and defenses. Get a glimpse into how the nobility lived and learn about the workers, tradesmen, crafters, and servants who kept everything running.
Marvelously detailed cross-sections reveal an inside look at a medieval feast, jousting and other pastimes, crime and punishment, and other nitty gritty details of daily life in a castle. While poring through the pages, be on the lookout for the enemy spy hidden on each spread!
Super Space Encyclopedia by Clive Gifford
Explore the universe through stunning images and fact boxes. Organized in seven chapters covering the universe, inner solar system, outer solar system, stars and exoplanets, galaxies, space exploration, and people in space, this large children’s reference book pulls together the most up-to-date information from the Smithsonian along with beautiful photographs, full-colour CGI images, and breathtaking photos from the Hubble Space Telescope. At a Glance and Stats and Facts boxes make the information easy to access even for younger readers.
Did you know that Mercury’s temperature ranges from 430°C in the day to -180°C at night? Or that more than 1300 Earths could fit into Jupiter?
Learn about red hypergiant stars, Wolf-Rayet stars, globular clusters, pulsars, supernova remnants, and neutron stars. Discover nearby galaxies and view stunning photos from the Hubble Space Telescope like this image of billowing clouds of gas and dust in the Carina Nebula, a nursery for thousands of new stars.
The Super Space Encyclopedia is full of super facts about the cosmos, from the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago through to how humans are currently exploring space. This is a wonderful reference for any child interested in space.
How to Be a Coder by Kiki Prottsman
This unique book teaches kids how to think like a coder. In the first half of this hands-on guide, kids will learn basic coding principles and concepts through 20 simple craft projects. They’ll learn about algorithms by making an origami boat, practice if/then statements through dance, and discover how functions work with a paper fortune teller.
In the second half, kids can put their newfound skills into practice using Scratch 3.0, an online, child-friendly computer language. Step-by-step instructions guide beginners through each discrete skill, but unfortunately the book falls short in showing kids how to put all the concepts together into a complete project.
I recommend pairing this book with DK’s Coding Games in Scratch: A Step-by-Step Visual Guide to Building Your Own Computer Games (previously reviewed here). With both these guides, your child will be thinking like a programmer and making their own games before you know it!
Science is Magic by Steve Mould
Magic and science go hand in hand! Bend water around a balloon. Make Christmas tinsel float in the air. “Read” a friend’s mind. Science is Magic will hook kids in with 29 cool “magic tricks” using simple household supplies while explaining the scientific principles underlying each trick.
Kids will love performing these tricks and illusions for friends and family. In between, they’ll discover the explanations behind some of the most famous magic tricks of all time like Houdini’s water escape and the disappearing Statue of Liberty, and learn the science behind “magical” phenomena like fireflies and the aurora borealis. A fun book for any child interested in magic and/or science (so basically every child).
One of my readers will win two of the books we reviewed: How to Be a Coder and Science is Magic. Enter in the giveaway widget below. This giveaway is open to residents of Canada, 18+. All the winner’s entries will be verified.
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Disclosure: I received sample items to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are completely honest and my own, based on my personal experience. Your experience may differ. This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you.