I have a soft spot in my heart for books with science themes, which is why my last recommendation was the Ada Lace series by Emily Calandrelli (see post from May 2, 2018). I’d like to follow up that recommendation with another science-themed series that was well-received in our household, but very different.
The DATA Set books by Ada Hopper
This series revolves around a group of friends who are drawn together by their shared interest in science and technology. This shared interest has led others to dub them the DATA set. They have a futuristic treehouse that serves as a clubhouse as well as a place to work on their inventions and science projects. At the beginning of the series, the DATA set meets Dr. Bunsen, their friendly neighborhood mad scientist and inventor. Encounters with Dr. Bunsen lead to adventures ranging from time travel to toy animals coming to life. As the DATA set says, anytime something strange is happening, it is probably somehow related to Dr. Bunsen and one of his inventions.
The books are fast-paced and straightforward, at times even predictable. While the characterization isn’t deep, it is humorous and clear. The books are filled with illustrations and use a large font, making them quick reads. I appreciate how the series emphasizes teamwork and maintains a gender balance among the characters. While the books are light on actual scientific concepts compared to the Magic School Bus series or the Ada Lace series, the DATA Set series does serve to make science exciting and intriguing. These books have gone a long way toward stimulating creative thinking in our household.
Although we all enjoyed both sets of books, I think that the Ada Lace series is better suited for slightly older readers due to the depth of scientific explanations, slightly more advanced vocabulary, and emotional drama. Younger readers might prefer the fast-paced action and straightforward nature of the DATA Set series.
Have you enjoyed any science-themed books for early readers lately? Please feel free to leave recommendations!
I believe that one of my responsibilities as a parent is to support each of our daughters in pursuing her individual interests, especially when they vary from my own. To that end, I have shuttled our younger daughter to ballet lessons and read many graphic novels with our older daughter that I would never have selected on my own. But as a former science teacher, in my secret heart of hearts, I hope that both of them develop a passion for science. I am thrilled every time that our younger daughter announces that she wants to be an inventor when she grows up and equally delighted that entomology is currently a passion of our older daughter. This is why I was so excited when a friend lent us her daughter’s Ada Lace books.
Ada Lace books by Emily Calandrelli
Ada Lace is a young girl with a passion for science. The series opens with Ada adjusting to life in a new city. Ada spends her days recording observations of her new ecosystem, the Juniper Gardens housing complex, in her field guide. She ends up befriending a girl named Nina, who is just as artistic as she is scientific. In the first book, Ada Lace on the Case, the girls work together to solve the mystery of a neighbor’s missing Yorkie. Note that with this book, I felt that I needed to discuss privacy concerns with our daughters because one strategy Ada and Nina use in their investigation is setting up a wireless camera to spy on suspects. While there is no physical violence in the books, there is mild taunting between Ada and another character, Milton Edison.
Unlike the Magic School Bus books by Joanna Cole where each book has a stated scientific topic that is taught in a fun way, these books integrate scientific ideas and principles into their plot lines. I appreciate how these books introduce kids to ways science applies to their lives. A “Behind the Science” section is found at the end of each book where topics such as the Turing test, drones, Arduino boards, gecko gloves, photoresistors, and white light are explained in more detail. With her engineering background and experience working with Bill Nye, Emily Calandrelli clearly knows how to make science accessible to the general public. As a parent, an added bonus of these books is how Ada works through typical tween angst in them. Our household is eager to for the next Ada Lace book to be published.
Have you read any science-themed chapter books for early readers? Feel free to leave recommendations!