Sometimes it helps us adults to step away from our own lifetime of often complex experiences and look at the human body with the pure wonder of children. Not only are young children just learning to use their own bodies but they also experience their environment using all their senses.
Reading books to children typically involves a lot of talk about the pictures so producing a children’s Book with no pictures seems a bold move. However, it quickly becomes obvious that removing the sense of sight from the story experience heightens the sense of hearing as well as demonstrating the power of the reader who can captivate the audience using just their voice, rhythm and intonation. The unusual approach also opens up children’s minds to the idea of different experiences. What happens if you can’t rely on one of your senses anymore? How do you experience the world differently?
I hear a pickle focuses completely on the senses and shows the connection between objects, the children’s perception and their feelings. The book offers a wealth of possible investigations and allows the children to focus on one sense at a time. Do the they have a favourite sense? Does a banana taste differently when they eat it with their eyes closed?
While our entire Read section is all about spotting the STEM in the everyday with the help of children’s books, we don’t usually acknowledge that a lot of children’s books are scientifically inaccurate. This is very obvious in Avocado baby, and I am pretty sure this inaccuracy is part of the reason many children find the story hilarious. A baby is born into a weak family but by eating lots of avocados becomes superhumanly strong and defeats burglars and bullies. Using the story as a starting point can help children learn the process of questioning their sources of information and researching the subject matter themselves. How can they find out which foods are good for babies? What makes our bodies strong? How strong can a baby get?
If you look for it, you will find interesting questions about the human body in many children’s books: How does it move? How does it function? How does human anatomy compare to that of animals?
The topic lends itself to a holistic approach, including not only the STEM aspects but also its social dimensions such as culture and customs, bodily autonomy and consent, differences, disabilities and discrimination.
With our book recommendations, we want to spark an interest in children to discover STEM in their everyday lives. Most books go beyond the obvious STEM connections and can be a great starting point for exploring children’s questions and ideas further.
Learn more: Book a STEM workshop.
Article author: Kerstin Johnson
Content Editor & Resources Developer
Kerstin is our editor and looks after all the content at Little Scientists. Her aim is to make everything as engaging and user-friendly as possible for workshop participants.