Literary Links to Science

Picture books and stories are an exciting way to introduce STEM content to children and encourage both a love of reading and learning.

In September and October 2013, Dr. Karen James – IRW’s scientist extraordinaire – visited Milbridge and Jonesport elementary schools to talk with kids about science, and facilitated a hands-on science project focusing on trees in nature. Each program involved carefully-selected books and included a series of book-related activities for students to participate in before the visit. Dr. James talked about what it’s like to be a scientist and worked with the students to create herbarium samples like those used in museums around the world. Dr. James breaks the stereotype many children have of scientists all working in a lab wearing white coats and goggles. The kids are always very excited to meet with a “real” scientist and participate in real-life scientific processes. The connections the students made were exciting and full of discovery and insight – whether using field guides to identify their samples, asking Dr. James questions about her work as a scientist, or reveling in their new gift The Tremendous Tree Book by Barbara Brenner and May Garelick.

Linda Uberseder, a highly experienced teacher and former head of school, developed the questions and related activities that accompany each book.

Here are a few pictures of Mrs. Uberseder leading children in an activity on trees at Island Readers & Writers special “ A Summer Morning in Maine,” in August 2012.



“We Can’t all be Rattlesnakes” by Patrick Jennings was the group read for students in four island schools in April 2012.  For over a month, students in grades 3 & 4 on Islesboro, North Haven and Vinalhaven participated in one of Island Readers & Writer’s Literary Links to Science programs. This particular program is designed in partnership with the Aspirnaut program at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN.

The project opened with a lively book trailer introducing kids to an exciting adventure of reading, discovering, and experimenting — all designed to inspire a passion for reading and learning.

This program was piloted in 2011 at the Frenchboro School.  Student evaluations resulting from the pilot program have helped refine the program for young readers. Check out the discussion guides, vocabulary words, suggested readings, and the crossword puzzle appearing on the For the Educators page of this website.  You and your friends can participate in these activities at home as well as at school. These awesome worksheets were prepared for IRW by library educator, and IRW Board member, Nina Emlen.