Talking science with kids

Posted by Claire Eamer

When I’m not working with Eamer Science & Policy, I have another professional life as an author of children’s books. I spent most of May touring Ontario and taking care of my author-life business — mainly by talking about science with kids.

One of my kids’ science books, Lizards in the Sky: Animals Where You Least Expect Them, was nominated for an award in the Ontario Library Association’s annual Forest of Reading competition. It’s a children’s choice award, which means that kids all over Ontario read the books and vote for their favourites. Even if you don’t win (I didn’t!), you still win, because schools and libraries buy your books and kids read them.

LizardsintheSkysm

And they read with enthusiasm!

I gave presentations at several schools on the Niagara Peninsula to audiences from kindergarten to Grade 8. In one case, the whole K-to-8 school was — rather alarmingly — in the audience. At a Toronto library, the mid-week afternoon audience ranged in age from two to roughly 70. To my amazement and pleasure, all the audiences were interested, attentive, courteous, full of questions, and enthusiastic about science.

The Forest of Reading wraps up with a two-day Festival of Reading at Harbourfront in Toronto. Thousands of kids and teachers attend, cheering on their favourite authors, swapping books, collecting autographs, taking photographs with authors, and generally talking books-books-books with anyone and everyone.

The whole experience was immensely encouraging to someone who cares about books and about science. Books are not dead. The kids love ’em, in whatever form they find them. And they love science. Both the kids and adults I talked to were full of smart, interesting questions about the science in Lizards in the Sky, and full of enthusiasm for the diversity of life that the book celebrates.

My take-away message from a month of touring? If we can talk about science in an accessible way, people are more than ready to listen.

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