Teaching Science through Trade Books

If I were conducting a workshop utilizing this book, I would start with the 5-E learning model (Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, Evaluate), and ask teachers how could you use a trade book (fiction or non-fiction) with each part of the learning cycle. This collection of fifty lessons by Christine Anne Royce, Emily Morgan, and Karen Ansberry does exactly that! Each topic begins with two trade books, one for grades K—3 and one for 4—6. They provide a blueprint for the complete lesson which includes not only how to use the trade book, but also research-based instructional strategies to use with the lesson, including student pages you might want to make into handouts or use with student notebooks. The lessons cover a huge variety of science topics. As this text was published in 2012 (before the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were published), the lessons are aligned to the National Science Education Standards. They are also aligned to A Framework for K—12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas upon which the NGSS are based. Consequently, these lessons should fit into any elementary science curriculum.

Even if you did not want to use these lessons, this book gives invaluable examples of how trade books can be used with any science lesson, as well as how to structure a quality science lesson using the 5-E learning model! For those not familiar with this learning cycle, the first step (engage) is somewhat self-explanatory. This is where you pique a student’s interest in the topic by raising questions that will be addressed in the lesson. An example is to show the students the cover of a book on flying animals, and ask them to list as many animals as they can that fly. Step 2, Explore, is where the teacher can level the playing field to give all students the same familiarity with the topic through some sort of exploration. An example is for students to read a section of a book to find an answer to a question raised, or to examine or make observations of something. Step 3, Explain, is where the student understands the topic so well that they can explain it to you. This stage usually involves a laboratory activity of some kind. The student might use data they have collected in a lab to use as evidence in an explanation. Step 4, Elaborate, is where the student goes beyond the classroom to apply what they have learned to their own home, school, community, or world. Step 5, Evaluate, is the culmination of the lesson. Students might self-evaluate their understanding. Teachers may evaluate student understanding.   In one lesson students vote on something in the engagement phase, and vote again on a different sticky note in the evaluation phase.


I have the paperback version of this book, and was a little disappointed with the quality of the printing, but I’m sure the cost was a consideration. National Science Teachers Association Press (NSTA) offers two options for purchasing: Print and e-book bundle, or just the e-book. Amazon  had 3 options for this book: rent, buy used, or buy new! There is also the option to trade it in. Barnes & Noble  has the book only in hardcover. It is a “must” for the professional collection in your school library (ask your librarian!) or your own bookshelf!

Royce, Christine Anne, Karen Rohrich Ansberry, and Emily R. Morgan. Teaching Science through Trade Books. Arlington, VA: National Science Teachers Association, 2012. Print. ISBN: 978-1-936959-13-6