Many young readers have been inspired to dive into the world of science by reading a good book.
The winners of the 2022 AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books, announced Feb. 9 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and Subaru of America Inc., all explore the wonders of scientific inquiry in different ways. For 17 years, the prizes have recognized outstanding science writing and illustration for children of all ages with the aim of encouraging the creation of even more quality books to foster children’s understanding and appreciation of science.
The winners of the 2022 prizes, awarded across four categories, are:
- Children’s Science Picture Book: Mimic Makers Biomimicry Inventors Inspired by Nature, written by Kristen Nordston and illustrated by Paul Boston.
- Middle Grades Science Book: A Shot in the Arm!: Big Ideas that Changed the World, by Don Brown.
- Hands-On Science Book: Sky Gazing: A Guide to the Moon, Sun, Planets, Stars, Eclipses, and Constellations, by Meg Thacher.
- Young Adult Science Book: Great Adaptations: Star-Nosed Moles, Electric Eels, and Other Tales of Evolution’s Mysteries Solved, by Kenneth Catania.
"Science books are a wonderful way for kids to explore,” Sarah Ingraffea, Project Director for the AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books, said. “We celebrate books that engage and encourage readers to ask questions. We want to inspire them with stories of real scientists and to show them that STEM is for everyone.”
AAAS and Subaru of America Inc. first collaborated in 2005 to honor five authors and one illustrator for bodies of work that meaningfully contributed to the field of children’s science books. Since 2006, the prizes have been awarded annually to both authors and illustrators for specific, recently published works.
Two judging panels composed of librarians, educators and scientists evaluate books based on detailed criteria for each award:
- The winning picture book, for instance, must be appropriate for children in grades K-4, should depict children of all backgrounds participating in science and should help develop positive attitudes toward science in young readers.
- The middle grades book should be appropriate for children in grades 5-8 and should encourage those readers to ask questions about the science, while the hands-on science book should feature activities that help readers develop problem-solving and research skills.
- The young adult prize, open to books written specifically for young adults and books aimed at adults, should encourage high schoolers to view science and technology thoughtfully, being neither categorically antagonistic nor uncritically positive, All winning books, regardless of category, must explain science content accurately without significant errors or omissions.
AN ENDURING PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN AAAS AND SUBARU
AAAS and Subaru’s partnership extends beyond honoring the best science books for children. The two organizations have also collaborated on projects that foster connections between authors, readers, and educators.
AAAS and Subaru brought educators to the AAAS Annual Meeting for professional development and networking opportunities with prize-winning authors. Subaru has also taken part in AAAS Family Days, where they have hosted a reading lounge, author meet-and-greets and hands-on experiments.
From 2015 to 2018 AAAS participated in the Subaru Loves Learning initiative. AAAS helped Subaru retailers donate prize-winning books to local schools around the country, and contributed educational resources to incorporate the books into curricula. The program donated over 278,000 science books to schools.
Since 2020, with many students learning at home, the education team at AAAS started reaching educators and families in new ways, said Ingraffea. AAAS has created more than 120 resources, including hands-on STEM activities and blog posts, with career interviews with STEM professionals and profiles of prize-winning authors – some of which they have translated into Spanish, Ingraffea added.
CHILDREN’S SCIENCE PICTURE BOOK WINNER
Mimic Makers Biomimicry Inventors Inspired by Nature, by Kristen Nordstrom. Illustrated by Paul Boston. Charlesbridge, 2021.
Sometimes our best inventions are inspired by nature, a practice called biomimicry. In this book, readers are introduced to ten real-life engineers, scientists, and designers who imitated plants and animals as they created amazing new technology. Young readers will learn how we can copy nature’s best ideas to solve real-world problems.
MIDDLE GRADES SCIENCE BOOK WINNER
A Shot in the Arm!: Big Ideas that Changed the World, by Don Brown. Amulet Books, 2021.
A Shot in the Arm! offers an illustrated history of vaccinations and the struggle to protect the world from infectious diseases. Author Don Brown reviews how deadly diseases like polio, cholera, rabies, measles, influenza, and COVID-19 challenged human society and how we developed vaccines to fight back.
HANDS-ON SCIENCE BOOK WINNER
Sky Gazing: A Guide to the Moon, Sun, Planets, Stars, Eclipses, and Constellations, by Meg Thacher. Storey
Sky Gazing is a visual guide to observing the sky with the naked eye, allowing kids ages 9-14 to delve into the science behind what they see when they look up at night. The book offers an overview of our solar system and deep space, describing how the Earth’s moon formed and the scientific processes that create phenomena like eclipses, meteor showers, and the northern lights. Young readers will also be dazzled by included star charts that will show them how to locate constellations in both hemispheres and throughout the seasons of the year.
YOUNG ADULT SCIENCE BOOK WINNER
Great Adaptations: Star-Nosed Moles, Electric Eels, and Other Tales of Evolution’s Mysteries Solved, by Kenneth Catania. Princeton University Press, 2020.
Biologist and neuroscientist Kenneth Catania uses Great Adaptations to highlight some of the most remarkable results of nature’s evolutionary processes. We’re treated to the story of the star-nosed mole, electric eels, and other interesting creatures whose adaptations allow them to thrive in the animal world. As Catania tells readers in the introduction to the book, it serves as his “personal account of those unexpected and interesting things discovered during a career spent investigating biological mysteries.”