Using AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize Winning Books to Support the Common Core

46 states and the District of Columbia have signed on to the Common Core Standards, which require K-12 students to go beyond memorization and recall and to apply what they’ve learned in order to demonstrate mastery. One of the hallmarks of the Common Core is that it calls for students to be able to read and analyze increasingly complex text independently in order to extract meaning from written information. Similarly, students are expected to analyze and write arguments, while citing evidence and weighing sources of information to assess credibility.

Children’s trade books, as supplements to text books, are getting a closer look by educators searching for reading material that can support the Common Core. A reliable way to find excellent books is to search for titles that have been recognized for their excellence by winning prestigious awards such as the Caldecott, Newberry, or Horn Book prizes. Because prize winners are evaluated by expert selection committees and judging panels, they represent the very best that the publishing world has to offer.

Similarly, the AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prizes for Excellence in Science Books can help teachers find the very best STEM nonfiction books that support the Common Core. The Prizes celebrate outstanding science writing and illustration for children and young adults. Administered by the AAAS review journal SB&F Online, the prizes, established in 2005, are meant to encourage the writing and publishing of high-quality science books for all age groups and recognize recently published works that are scientifically sound and foster an understanding and appreciation of science in young readers. Every year, finalists in four categories are selected by a panel made up of librarians, scientists, and science literacy/education experts.

One winner is selected in each of four categories, which are: children’s science picture books; middle school science books; hands-on science books; and young adult science books. Special prizes also have been awarded over the years, including Lifetime Achievement awards for writers and/or illustrators and awards for exemplary science series. Examples include Seymour Simon and Vicki Cobb for Lifetime Achievement and the Let's Read and Find Out series. 

The AAAS mission to "advance science, engineering, and innovation throughout the world for the benefit of all people” deeply influences what we look for in books deemed to be of the highest quality. We look for books that highlight the actual work done by the women and men who devote their lives to science and that reflect the advances and benefits to society that result from that work. We also believe that books represent a profound opportunity to convey to young readers the very human side of science, even when the subject matter touches upon conflicts or controversies.

In the introduction to the SB&F Best Books 2012 special issue, Jo Ellen Roseman, director of AAAS Project 2061 wrote, “High-quality science books cannot only inform, entertain, and engage young people, they can also motivate and help young people to become better readers, writers, and thinkers.” This is certainly true of the books that have been recognized as finalists and winners of the AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prizes.

As part of the activities related to the prize, SB&F works with Science NetLinks to create classroom ready lesson plans for the prize-winning books in each category. A look at the list of lessons found on the Science NetLinks AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize Collection page shows the diversity and range of our award winners.  Also be sure to check our new STEM and the Common Core Collection. All of the lessons listed in this collection have links to related Common Core Standards.

The AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books is sponsored by Subaru.

Originally posted on AAAS Science NetLinks.