The best children’s books that get readers thinking about a “wow” moment that may spark a lifetime of investigation

Brenda Z. Guiberson Author Of Into the Sea
By Brenda Z. Guiberson

Who am I?

I'm an award-winning, best-selling children’s author who writes about unexpected “wow” moments that stick with me. I look for books and articIes that take me on a deep journey into unknown environments. I aim for nonfiction that reads like a story with an emotional connection to new creatures with fascinating lifestyles. As a writer of dozens of books for children, I always learn much more that can go into each effort. Each book comes into a hazy focus after tons of research. The best “wow” details get woven into an incredible story full of surprise, joy, and admiration for those struggling to survive on our changing plant.  

I wrote...

Into the Sea

By Brenda Z. Guiberson,

Book cover of Into the Sea

What is my book about?

One day I went snorkeling and had a moment with a magnificent sea turtle. “Wow!” Where did she come from? What did she eat? What dangers did she face? I had so many questions and didn’t stop until I had answers. This led to a book about an endangered sea turtle that hatches on a sandy beach and finds ways to survive in the beautiful but dangerous ocean.  

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle

Why did I love this book?

This book follows the accomplishments of Sylvia Earle who “lost her heart to the water” as a child. She snorkeled, then learned scuba diving. She kept on, joining an ocean expedition as the only woman among 70 men, lived underwater for 2 weeks, designed a deep sea diving bubble, and more. “Wow!” I love that she stayed so long to learn that each individual fish is different from another, that whales swim like ballerinas, and every spoonful of ocean is full of tiny, and sometimes sparkly, creatures. Most important she learned how vital the ocean is to the health of our planet and better ways to take care of it.        

By Claire A. Nivola,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Life in the Ocean as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sylvia Earle first lost her heart to the ocean as a young girl when she discovered the wonders of the Gulf of Mexico in her backyard. As an adult, she dives even deeper. Whether she's designing submersibles, swimming with the whales, or taking deep-water walks, Sylvia Earle has dedicated her life to learning more about what she calls "the blue heart of the planet." With stunningly detailed pictures of the wonders of the sea, Life in the Ocean tells the story of Sylvia's growing passion and how her ocean exploration and advocacy have made her known around the world. This…

Me... Jane

By Patrick McDonnell,

Book cover of Me... Jane

Why did I love this book?

This book is about Jane Goodall, famous chimp researcher and United Nations Messenger of Peace. As a child, she shared her backyard “magical world of nature” with her stuffed chimp named Jubilee. The book Tarzan of the Apes expanded her passion into dreams of going to Africa to study animals. “Wow!” She did it, and her stick-to-it observations led to the discovery that chimpanzees make and use tools. As she protects wildlife she also helps people in wild places to get better food, water, and education. Her concerns for all creatures have inspired children around the world to take some action toward a better planet.  

By Patrick McDonnell,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Me... Jane as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In his characteristic heartwarming and minimalistic style, Patrick McDonnell tells the story of a young Jane Goodall and her special childhood toy chimpanzee named Jubilee. As the young Jane observes the natural world around her with wonder, she dreams of 'a life living with and helping all animals,' until one day she finds that her dream has come true.

One of the world's most inspiring women, Dr. Jane Goodall is a renowned humanitarian, conservationist, animal activist, environmentalist, and United Nations Messenger of Peace. In 1977 she founded the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), a global nonprofit organization that empowers people to…

Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera

By Candace Fleming, Eric Rohmann (illustrator),

Book cover of Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera

Why did I love this book?

This book became a “wow” moment for me as it celebrates the life of a honey bee. “Can I fly now?” the bee wants to know. With poetic language and exquisite close-up illustrations, the reader has to wait, just like the bee, who has only 35 days to get through many chores before she can fly off for the final flower and honey mission. Who could ever swat a busy bee after reading this amazing life story? Extra information is provided about the special skills and plight of our important pollinators.  

By Candace Fleming, Eric Rohmann (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Honeybee as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Robert F. Sibert Medal Winner
Take to the sky with Apis, one honeybee, as she embarks on her journey through life!

An Orbis Pictus Honor Book
Selected for the Texas Bluebonnnet Master List
Finalist for the AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books

A tiny honeybee emerges through the wax cap of her cell. Driven to protect and take care of her hive, she cleans the nursery and feeds the larvae and the queen. But is she strong enough to fly? Not yet!

Apis builds wax comb to store honey, and transfers pollen from other bees into the storage.…

Book cover of Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion

Why did I love this book?

Dr. Curtis Ebbesmeyer had a “wow” moment when thousands and thousands of Nike sneakers showed up on beaches in Seattle. I thought that was amazing too. Then he heard about rubber duckies, blue plastic turtles, hockey gloves, and lego pieces. This fascinating book reveals his unusual methods to study ocean currents and weather patterns by tracking floating items that fall from ships at sea. Amateur ocean observers help him all over the world and some are focused on dangerous abandoned fishing nets. Are you fascinated? Websites, a newsletter, and other programs are mentioned for those who might be inspired.  

By Loree Griffin Burns,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tracking Trash as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The author of The Hive Detectives presents “a unique and often fascinating book on ocean currents, drifting trash, and the scientists who study them” (Booklist).

Aided by an army of beachcombers, oceanographer Dr. Curtis Ebbesmeyer tracks trash in the name of science. From sneakers to hockey gloves, Curt monitors the watery fate of human-made cargo that has spilled into the ocean. The information he collects is much more than casual news; it is important scientific data. And with careful analysis, Curt, along with a community of scientists, friends, and beachcombers alike, is using his data to understand and protect our…

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus

By Jen Bryant, Melissa Sweet (illustrator),

Book cover of The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus

Why did I love this book?

Sometimes pencil and paper and a lot of scribbling can reveal a passion. As someone always searching for the right word, I love this book. Young Peter Roget became a word collector when he discovered that words “were powerful things.” With a passion to find the best word, the one that really fits, he made lists. At 8, he wrote his first book, but it was not a story. He wrote lists. Then he wrote more lists. A lifetime of lists. His efforts to create one place where everyone could find just the right word are illustrated scrapbook style in this book that is incredible, stunning, splendid, remarkable, and fun.   

By Jen Bryant, Melissa Sweet (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Right Word as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

2015 Caldecott Honor Book

2015 Sibert Medal Winner

For shy young Peter Mark Roget, books were the best companions -- and it wasn’t long before Peter began writing his own book. But he didn’t write stories; he wrote lists. Peter took his love for words and turned it to organizing ideas and finding exactly the right word to express just what he thought. His lists grew and grew, eventually turning into one of the most important reference books of all time.

Readers of all ages will marvel at Roget’s life, depicted through lyrical text and brilliantly detailed illustrations. This elegant…

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