📚 Writing about science for kids
How to start writing about science for kids + How to write a children's book + Interviewing scientists for kids’ science stories + Resources for writers + Courses + Magazines + Podcasts
|Marianna Limas||Nov 21, 2020|
AAAS and Subaru recently announced the finalists for the 2021 AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books in the Children’s Science Picture Book category (pictured above), the Hands-On Science Book category, and the Middle Grades Science Book category!
Interested in writing about science for kids? I put together this list with articles, resources, courses, magazines, interviews, podcasts, books and more. Don’t miss any updates from the Science Writing News Roundup!
How to start writing about science for kids: If you decide to break into the kids market, your stories might end up being the clearest, most vivid writing you ever do. And there is a market.
Writing young: crafting science stories for kids. Science journalists often think writing for kids will be easier than for their usual audience, says Janet Raloff, editor of Science News for Students, a source of news and feature stories aimed at middle schoolers. “It’s not easier at all! It’s just different.”
Interviewing scientists for kids’ science stories. “Just because a kid hasn’t learned about genetics in school, doesn’t mean that you can’t tell a story that has something to do with genes,” says Anna Rothschild. “You need to find the right language to be able to explain it.”
Science journalist Elizabeth Preston shares her insights into writing about science for kids. She is the former editor of the MUSE magazine for kids ages 9 to 14.
A science author’s “Eureka!” moment. “One of the best tips I can offer to anyone creating a children’s book for the first time is to look at lots of published children’s books, to see how the authors, illustrators and photographers approached their subjects and audiences,” writes Deborah Lee Rose.
Writing for young audiences with Elizabeth Preston. Here are some tips to keep in mind when writing children’s science stories, including picturing your reader in front of you.
Don't explain so much at once, and other advice from young science readers. Like any skill, translating science for novice readers—especially kids and teens—is developed through practice and feedback.
Science writer and children’s author Isabel Thomas offers 10 tips on how to pitch your children’s non-fiction book and how to get into the mindset of an eight-year-old when you're working on a manuscript for children.
How do you get a children’s book published? “Don't try to find your own illustrator (unless you plan to self-publish),” writes Kevin Kurtz. “To find publishers who might be interested in the types of books you want to publish, go to the library and look for books with similar content and a similar approach to what you're thinking, and plan on the publishers of those books being your targets.”
Ultimate writing challenge: science writing for kids. “If you’d really like to challenge yourself as a writer, I suggest writing about science for kids. Specifically, try to explain a basic science concept to children under the age of eight. I tried it recently and learned a few things along the way,” writes Matt Shipman.
Five tips for (un)writing narrative nonfiction: 1) Newsworthy does not equal book-worthy, 2) Forget the facts (focus on feelings), 3) Write poetry (not prose), 4) Write a movie (not a book), 5) Write with pictures (not words).
Science writing for children. A good children’s science book is nothing like a textbook. It’s an opportunity to tell a complete story that helps children make connections between bite-sized facts and the bigger picture.
5 science writing tips from young experts. When you ask children and teenagers to peer-review and improve your scientific manuscript, be prepared for valuable, honest — and blunt — feedback.
8 articles: writing about science for children and young adults. Check out these blog posts for creative ideas such as “Picture Book Word Count, and Other Rules that are Meant to Be Broken”, “3 Myths About Why Writing Science Books for Kids is Hard,” and more.
Writing nonfiction for kids: Kelly Barnhill discusses what it’s like to be a children’s author.
Making science sing: writing creative nonfiction about science, for kids. In this blog post, Christy Mihaly asks “How do I make an article about ants, or a book about physics, compelling to young readers? How do I use creative nonfiction for science?”
Five reasons why children’s science books are THE must-read books of the 21st century. For kids and adults.
“What inspired you to write science books for babies? “Since the first two titles in the Baby Loves Science series came out in October 2016, this is the question I’m asked most often. Fortunately, it’s also the easiest to answer,” writes Ruth Spiro, children's book author.
“What the Rosy Hare told me about writing for kids,” by Elizabeth Preston, former editor of the children’s science magazine MUSE.
Classifying science books for kids. In a study, researchers identified two broad, function-based categories of science books for children: accepted knowledge and lived lives of scientists. (Here is a link to the study)
Five kinds of STEM-themed nonfiction books for kids. Understanding the categories can help professional scientists and science enthusiasts interested in writing children’s books frame the ideas and information they are passionate about in ways that are likely to catch an editor’s attention.
The power of picture books: finding ways to bring meaningful nonfiction facts to the page. “I very much wanted to make it clear to each child that even though they are one small part of a vast universe filled with impossibly large numbers, they were unique, special, and real,” writes Seth Fishman.
Stephanie Ryan: my journey from science fan to children’s book author. “I wanted to ensure that the book represented all children, so that young readers could see themselves in it. Let’s Learn about Chemistry features my son’s childhood friends, and it just so happens that his friends were of different ethnic backgrounds.”
STEM-themed books for kids: a new approach. “In the not too distant past, children’s book publishers produced just one kind of nonfiction—survey books that provide a general introduction to a broad topic, such as gorillas or galaxies or weather,” writes Melissa Stewart.
The Evolution of Aquila: the children's science magazine's special issue on Evolution. “I’ve been meaning to get my hands on a copy of Aquila for some time, as my children are just coming into the right age bracket (8-12). So, when I saw that January’s topic was Evolution, I jumped at the opportunity,” writes Patrick Goymer.
The case for more science and philosophy books for children. If we, as a society, were serious about our children, then children’s education—especially for those beginning “the age of reason”—would be our highest priority.
“Four ways science training prepares us as writers,” by Theanne Griffith, author of The Magnificent Makers.
Podcasts: a powerful medium for children’s science literacy. “When I decided to start a science podcast for kids, there was one question I heard again and again: Will kids pay attention to a story that has no pictures?” said Lindsay Patterson, the creator, producer, and co-host of “Tumble Science Podcast for Kids.”
🖼️ Spotlight on science writers
Melissa Stewart, the award-winning author of more than 180 nonfiction books for children, turns the spotlight on authors of nonfiction for kids in this series "Nonfiction Authors Dig Deep."
Jeanne Miller: a life writing about science for children. Miller, who has written dozens of articles for children’s science magazines, is a two-time winner in the Children’s Science News category of the AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards. (Check out another interview from her website.)
Stephen Ornes explains the science of lightning to young readers. In a feature for Science News for Students, an online publication that targets middle-school and high-school readers, freelance science writer Stephen Ornes unpacked the science behind lightning strikes. His story, “Where Will Lightning Strike?,” appeared on September 16, 2014.
How do you come up with fresh ways to explore a topic? How do you handle the research process? What is the hardest part about writing science for kids? EPL spotlights a group of authors (Cora Lee, Claire Eamer, Etta Kaner, Jacob Berkowitz, Joan Marie Galat) who have collectively covered a wide range of nonfiction topics for young readers. Check out part 1 (Satisfy Your Curiosity with Children’s Non-Fiction), part 2 (Pathways to Science Writing for Kids), and part 3 (Author Visits – Sharing Science Books in Schools) of the series.
Hands-on science for kids: an interview with Liz Heinecke. “Ideally, I want kids to flip through the book and run to the fridge to grab the ingredients for an experiment. Hopefully, parents will see how safe and simple the projects are, so they’ll encourage their kids to go ahead and do some science.”
A select group of authors who have won or been finalists for the AAAS/Subaru Prize for Excellence in Science Books have been invited to write or record an introduction to one of their books. You can read all the posts in this series here, and check out the most recent posts with 1) Pascal Lee, and 2) Paul Fleischman.
“How writing science books for children benefited my academic career:” Dr Tiffany Taylor, author of three books that explain the concept of evolution and genetics to children, discusses the process of publishing her first book.
Interview with STEM authors: Suzie Olsen, creator of STEM Spark (an initiative encouraging students to consider careers in STEM), interviewed many science writers such as Deborah Lee Rose, an internationally published, award-winning children’s author.
Sherri Jones Rivers interviewed Miranda Paul (“Writing Science Books for Kids Part 1” and Heather Montgomery (“Writing Science Books for Kids Part 2”). If you search the blog, you will find more interviews with writers.
The best science books for kids. Mike Kendall, Professor of Geophysics at Oxford University, reviews the books that made the shortlist of the 2020 Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize.
Since their inception in 1945, the AAAS Science Journalism Awards have honored professional journalists for distinguished reporting on the sciences, engineering, and mathematics. Here are the winners of the Children's Science News category.
The AAAS/Subaru Prize for Excellence in Science Books celebrates outstanding science writing and illustration for children and young adults.
The National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) has released its annual list of “Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12: 2020.” The list represents the best science trade books published in 2020 for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
Follow STEAMTeam Books to catch all the info on the new STEAM/STEM children's books heading your way.
The Royal Society’s Young People's Book Prize aims to promote literacy in young people and to inspire them to read about science.
The American Institute of Physics Science Communication Awards honors outstanding achievements in excellence in physics and raises public awareness of the contributions that physicists make to society. Meet the Science Communication Award Winners in the Writing for Children category.
The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators is an international professional organization for authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults. They offer writing conferences, nonfiction workshops, publications such as The Book: Essential Guide to Publishing for Children, podcasts, awards, and grants.
Looking to hire a children's illustrator? Check out 1) Childrensillustrators.com, 2) IllustrationX, 3) Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and 4) Lifeology.
In April 2020, The MIT Press and Candlewick Press announced two new imprints, MIT Kids Press and MITeen Press, which will publish engaging and ambitious books for children and young adult readers.
Children’s author Miranda Paul put together a list of resources for writers, with advice, FAQ, and more. Check out her post “Advice for Newer Writers.” She runs the We Need Diverse Books Mentorship Program, which supports writers early in their career.
UC San Diego Extension offers the course “Children's Book Writing & Illustration.”
Loft offers the course Research and Writing: Children’s Nonfiction for Education.
Making Picture Book Magic will teach you how to write a picture book.
Gotham Writers Workshop offers the course Children’s Book Writing. They say the focus is mostly on fiction, but writers are welcome to work on nonfiction children’s books.
Sarah Aronson offers an advanced course Manuscript Workshop: Writing For Children.
Nonfiction Writers Dig Deep: 50 Award-Winning Children’s Book Authors Share the Secret of Engaging Writing. Some of today’s most celebrated nonfiction writers for children share how their writing processes reflect their passions, personalities, beliefs, and experiences in the world. How did this one-of-a-kind anthology come about? Melissa Stewart explains in her blog.
With more than 600 quotations and references to books and articles that illustrate nonfiction techniques, Anatomy of Nonfiction uses the insights of 73 children’s writers, editors, publishers, and librarians.
Children's Writer's Word Book helps you immediately determine if you're using the right vocabulary and language for your audience.
Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market 2020: a trusted guide for anyone who seeks to write or illustrate for kids and young adults.
📰 Magazines and online publications
Amazing! Magazine is for curious kids aged 6-11.
Brainspace Magazine speaks to an audience of children between the ages of 8 and 14.
Brilliant Brainz is a magazine for 6-12 year-olds.
CBBC Newsround: The home of news and fun facts for kids.
CBC Kids News is a news website for kids.
DiscoveryBox is a magazine for kids aged 9-14.
Double Helix is CSIRO's science magazine for kids aged 8-14.
Eco Kids Planet is a magazine for kids aged 7-11.
First News is the UK’s national newspaper for young people.
Frontiers for Young Minds provides a collection of freely available scientific articles by distinguished scientists, reviewed by a board of kids and teens.
Kazoo is a magazine for girls aged 5-12.
Kidsnews.com.au is a ready-to go literacy resource for teachers using current daily news stories for students in the classroom.
Kookie is a magazine for girls aged 7-12.
La Liberté Sciences Mag Junior published a children’s science magazine about COVID-19.
Nat Geo Little Kids is a magazine for kids aged 3-6.
National Geographic KIDS targets 6-14 year-olds. Check out the submission guidelines. Email your pitch to Kay.Boatner@natgeo.com.
News-O-Matic is an educational resource for readers in grades K through 8.
Newsela's platform takes real and new content from trusted providers and turns it into learning materials.
OKIDO is a magazine for kids aged 3-7.
OWL Magazine is a magazine for 9-13 year-olds.
OYLA is a popular science magazine for young readers and their families.
Reach Out Reporter is an online primary science news service which helps teachers integrate topical science into everyday teaching and learning.
The National Wildlife Federation publishes Ranger Rick for kids aged 7-12, Ranger Rick Jr.™ for kids aged 4-7, and Ranger Rick Zoobooks, with titles for all ages.
The Week Junior Science+Nature is a magazine for 8-15 year-olds.
Science & Vie Junior is a French science magazine targeting children.
ScienceJournal4Kids offers hundreds of scientific articles written for kids.
Science Spin Magazines are for grades K–1, grade 2, and grades 3–6.
Science World is a magazine for kids in grades 6 through 10.
Scoop is a magazine for kids aged 7-13.
Smore Magazine is a magazine for ages 7+.
Smithsonian Tween Tribune offers articles about science, history and current events.
Space Scoop brings you the latest astronomy news.
SuperScience is a magazine for kids in grades 3 through 6.
Whizz Pop Bang is a magazine for kids aged 6-12.
Youngzine is a website where children can learn about current news and events shaping their world.
The Children's Book Podcast features insightful and sincere interviews with authors, illustrators, and everyone involved in taking a book from drawing board to bookshelf. If you search for “science”, you will find episodes with Melissa Stewart, Ishta Mercurio, Ruth Spiro, and other writers.
The Writing for Children podcast has some interesting episodes such as 1) Interview with Paula Morrow, editor of Highlights Hello magazine, 2) 8 must-know facts about magazine nonfiction, and 3) Tips for interviewing your nonfiction subjects.
One More Page is a podcast for lovers of kids’ books. Check out this episode with Idan Ben-Barak, author of Small Wonders: How Microbes Rule Our World, and Do not lick this book.
Making hard science easy for kids: On the Why We Write podcast, children's author Sara Levine talks about her lifelong love of science and the humanities.
A successful children’s author tells us how she did it – and also explains her science books for babies. Ruth Spiro attracted quite a bit of attention for her line of baby books about weighty subjects like quantum physics and thermodynamics.
👉 Don’t miss any updates from the Science Writing News Roundup!
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