This Science Book Will Make Young Readers Light Up: Glow, by W. H. Beck

BookendsLynn: Curiosity is what lies at the heart of science. Children, with their innate curiosity, are perfectly suited for science exploration. Happily, there are many excellent new children’s nonfiction books that do an outstanding job of fanning the flame of inquiry. A perfect example is Glow: Animals with Their Own Night Lights (2016) by W. H. Beck, starting with the attention-grabbing cover: who can resist being pulled in by this bizarre creature with its glowing stalk, shown in eye-popping color against the black background?

Glow: Animals with Their Own Night Lights by W. H. BeckThe first page explains bioluminescence, and following pages offer beautiful pictures of creatures children may already be familiar with, such as fireflies. Then the book switches its focus to the astonishing creatures that inhabit the deepest seas while asking the pivotal question: “Why do they glow?”

Each page features a fantastical creature with text explaining some of the reasons for its development of bioluminescence, whether glowing to hunt or hide, or find a friend or lose an enemy. And then comes the sentence I love most: “Scientists just don’t know yet why some animals are bioluminescent.” Wow! If that doesn’t spark a child’s imagination and interest, I don’t know what will.

It’s hard to choose a favorite. The crystal
jellyfish? The scaly dragonfish?

Cindy: What kid doesn’t love things that light up? From sneakers that flash, to sparklers on Independence Day, to flashlights in a tent, kids are attracted to glowing lights. Add a lovely, exotic word like “bioluminescence,” and a book about strange creatures, and you have the perfect fit for an audience of young readers. The cover photo will pull them into this book full of gorgeous animals glowing against the dark backgrounds. It’s hard to choose a favorite. The crystal jellyfish? The scaly dragonfish? Or the aptly named lanternfish?

Don’t miss the back matter, which includes a page of drawings detailing the location of the bioluminescence on each creature along with its scientific name, measurements, and location in the wild (including the depths for the many ocean dwellers). The deep-sea Spanish dancer earns its name by hanging out at a maximum depth of 16,000 feet! Since my scuba certification is only valid to 50 feet right now, I’m glad I have this book so I can see what I’m missing!



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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