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Imagine the Possibilities

One of the earliest words in a child's vocabulary is "why," often followed by "how." While logical explanations to their inquiries are expected, it is equally as important to encourage them to ask "what if?" Imagining "what if" is what lead explorers to the shores of America, the Wright Brothers to take flight, and man to walk on the moon. In an age of accelerating science and technology, there is no limit to how many discoveries and inventions are yet to be made by those who can only imagine the possibilities.

In a tribute to some of our most celebrated visionaries, we offer this reading list to inspire children to look beyond what is, and to imagine what could be.

So You Want to Be an Inventor?So You Want to Be an Inventor?
Ages: All Ages
Author: Judith St. George   Illustrator: David Small  
Penguin Putnam Inc., $16.99 (Paperback)


More than three dozen inventors have been well chosen as examples of the various attributes useful to a would-be inventor. The text is highly readable, never talking down to its young readers. David Small's animated ink, watercolor and pastel chalk drawings are in perfect synchronization with St. George's text.

One Giant Leap: The Story of Neil Armstrong
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Don Brown  
Houghton Mifflin Children's Books, $16.00 (Hard Cover)  


This engaging biography of Neil Armstrong relates the story of the first moon landing as a child's dream come true. As a boy, the future astronaut is fascinated by flying; as a grown-up, he keeps his child's sense of play.

Uncommon Traveler: Mary Kingsley in Africa
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Don Brown  
Houghton Mifflin Co., $16.00 (Hard Cover)  


Mary Kingsley's girlhood in England was extremely lonely and grim. Books were her only adventure. They whetted her appetite for travel. After her parents’ death she set sail for West Africa. Undaunted by heat, insects, or crocodiles climbing into her canoe, Kingsley embraced explorations almost unknown for a female of her day.

Max Goes to the MoonMax Goes to the Moon
Ages: 4 - 10 yrs.
Author: Jeffrey Bennett Illustrator: Alan Okamoto
Big Kid Science, $16.95 (Hard Cover)

Max goes to the Moon combines a lavishly illustrated picture book format with fundamental science concepts. In this adventure, Max the Dog and his young human friend Tori undertake a quest to make the first trip to the Moon since the Apollo era. Their trip inspires the nations of the world to join together to build a Moon colony. The engaging story encourages children to learn, dream, and explore, while offering the message that we live on a precious planet. Everything that happens in the story corresponds to scientific principles which are clearly explained in "Big Kid Boxes" that appear on each page. Book Description

Building Big
Ages: 4 & Up
By: David MaCaulay  
Houghton Mifflin Co., $30.00 (Hard Cover)  
 

Author David Macaulay engages readers’ imaginations and gets them thinking about structures they see and use every day - bridges, tunnels, skyscrapers, domes, and dams. Through vivid text and imagery, he provides a glimpse into the minds of the designers and engineers who first envisioned such projects to see where their inspiration and ideas came from.

Ask Albert Einstein
Ages: 5 - 8 yrs.
Author: Lynne Barasch    Illustrator: Lynne Barasch
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $16.00 (Hard Cover)

The plot sounds like a sweet, heartwarming story worthy of a family sitcom: A frustrated schoolgirl writes to one of history's most brilliant minds for help with a tough homework assignment, and he kindly responds, giving her just enough of a nudge that she is able to figure the answer out herself. Incredibly, that's what actually happened in the spring of 1952, when a fifteen-year-old high school student requested math help from none other than Albert Einstein. Einstein, who was famously modest and good-natured, graciously answered her letter, and the correspondence became the subject of a front-page story in The New York Times.

They Saw the FutureThey Saw the Future
Ages: 5 - 9 yrs.
Author: Kathleen Krull   Illustrator: Kyrsten Brooker  
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing/Atheneum Books for Young Readers, $19.99 (Hard Cover)


A compendium on the oracles, psychics, scientists, great thinkers and pretty good guessers who, throughout history, have surprised, awed and sometimes scared us with their prognostications.

 

So You Want to Be an Explorer?So You Want to Be An Explorer?
Ages: 5 & Up
Author: Judith St. George    Illustrator: David Small
Penguin Putnam Inc./ Philomel, $16.99 (Hard Cover)

So you want to be an explorer? What does it take, you ask? To find out, take a look at Judith St. George and David Small’s witty collection of some of the best explorers the world has ever known.You know Marco Polo and Christopher Columbus, but what about Mary Kingsley, who studied cannibals in Africa, or cowboy Jim White, who, by mistake, found Carlsbad Caverns? Full of boundless energy and illustrations you won’t forget, this historical jaunt will inspire the explorer in all of us, young and old. Book Description

My Brothers' Flying Machine
Ages: 6 - 9 yrs.
Author: Jane Yolen   Illustrator: Jim Burke  
Little, Brown and Company Children's Publishing, $16.95 (Hard Cover)  


While history made famous the "the Wright Brothers," their younger sister Katherine played a significant role in helping them reach their dream of flying. Told through her eyes, the story details the siblings' childhood, her brothers' experiments with bicycles and flight, and the excitement of fulfilling their dream.

Buzz Aldrin: Reaching for the MoonBuzz Aldrin: Reaching for the Moon
Ages: 6 - 9 yrs.
Author: Buzz Aldrin    Illustrator: Wendell Minor
HarperCollins Childrens Books, $15.99 (Hardcover)

This is my journey. It didn’t begin when I stepped on board Apollo 11 on July 16, 1969. It began the day I was born -- Edwin Eugene Aldrin Jr., whom everyone called Buzz. Becoming an astronaut took more than education, discipline, and physical strength. It took years of determination and believing that any goal is possible -- from riding a bike alone across the George Washington Bridge at age ten to making a footprint on the Moon.

Brave Harriet
Ages: 6 - 9 yrs.
Author: Marissa Moss   Illustrator: C.F. Payne  
Harcourt Trade Publishers/Silver Whistle, $16.00 (Hard Cover)  


The "brave Harriet" of this appealing biography is Harriet Quimby, the first American woman to receive a pilot's license and the first woman to fly solo across the English Channel in 1912. Already a successful newspaper woman when she saw her first plane in flight, Harriet started flying lessons that very day. "I knew where I belonged," she said, "there, at the controls with blue sky around me." A compelling collaboration that deserves a wide audience. Selma G. Lanes ©2001

Follow the DreamFollow the Dream
Ages: 6 - 12 yrs.
By: Peter Sis  
Random House Children's Books/ Dragonfly Books, $6.99 (Paperback)


Arguably today's finest painter-illustrator, Peter Sis renders the voyage of Christopher Columbus in stunning and varied paintings, each aptly "framed." The illustrations run from the whimsy of little Columbus in diapers to the heart-stopping beauty of two panels showing the three ships on a seemingly infinite ocean, in night, in day. One of the most beautiful books of the decade.

Footprints on the Moon
Ages: 6 - 12 yrs.
Author: Alexandra Siy  
Charlesbridge, $16.95 (Hard Cover)  
 

Twenty-four astronauts have crossed the vast ocean of space that separates Earth and Moon. Twelve have left footprints. With clearly written, comprehensive text, this book chronicles the history of Moon exploration and looks ahead to what the future might hold. Book Description

The John Bull
Ages: 6 & Up
Author: David Weitzman Illustrator: David Weitzman
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $16.00 (Hard Cover)

The John Bull -- now on permanent display at the Smithsonian Institution -- was imported from England in 1831, and its cutting-edge design had a huge impact on American locomotive history. Used to help build and then run the first successful New Jersey railroad, the John Bull transported passengers and freight between New York City and Philadelphia more quickly and efficiently than ever before. And within a few years, more than a dozen locomotives were constructed following the John Bull's design, helping to spawn a vigorous and vital new American industry.

The Travels of Benjamin of TudelaThe Travels of Benjamin of Tudela
Ages: 8 - 12 yrs.
Author: Uri Shulevitz
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $17.00 (Hard Cover)

More than a hundred years before Marco Polo's travels, Benjamin of Tudela journeyed from his home in Spain through France, Italy, Egypt, Greece, Constantinople, Syria, Persia, and Babylon to reach his primary destination: Jerusalem. Drawing upon decades of writing and illustrating for children, Uri Shulevitz - through the first-person narration of his protagonist - captures the excitement and sense of wonder that Benjamin of Tudela experienced throughout his 14-year expedition. Sidebars relay factual information about related subjects, such as the Crusades and the ancient city of Baghdad. To add to the experience, a map included in the front of the book helps readers follow the journey.

1000 Inventions and Discoveries
Ages: 8 & Up
Author: Roger Francis Bridgman   Illustrator: Peter Dennis  
Dorling Kindersley Publishing, Inc., $24.99 (Hard Cover)  
 

Fascinating stories and vivid photographs and illustrations tell the tales of the developments in technology and natural science that have shaped our world. Profiles of the famous (and not-so-famous) men and women who have had "Eureka!" moments. Book Description

The Lewis & Clark Expedition
Ages: 8 - 14 yrs.
Author: Carol A. Johmann   Illustrator: Michael Kline  
Williamson Publishing, $12.95 (Hard Cover)
  

Students will get a first-hand look at the challenges faced by Lewis and Clark as they made their journey westward. Excerpts from the explorers' journals, cartoons, maps, drawings, and photographs offer an engaging introduction to these figures and the significance of their historic adventure. Hands-on activities like making a keelboat from balsa wood or building a miniature Mandan earth lodge from sticks, clay and grass, provide a greater understanding of the explorers' experiences.

First to FlyFirst to Fly
Ages: 8 & Up
Author: Peter Busby   Illustrator: David Craig   Illustrator: Jack McMaster  
Random House Children's Books/Crown, $19.95 (Hard Cover)   


First to Fly recreates the story of the Wright Brothers, from their earliest challenges to their final triumph. Original paintings, period photographs, and detailed diagrams bring their story to life.

The Kid Who Named PlutoThe Kid Who Named Pluto
Ages: 9 - 14 yrs.
Author: Marc McCutcheon    Illustrator: Jon Cannell
Chronicle Books, $15.95

Illustrated with simple line drawings and a few photographs, this collection of short biographies of young people who made contributions to science offers plenty of inspiration for the young scientific dreamer. From Marry Anning who, born in 1799, is credited with discovering dinosaur fossils at age twelve to Emily Rosa who in fourth grade in 1996 disproved the concept of “Therapeutic Touch” and published her findings in JAMA, there are nine stories in all. Profiles range from the famous Isaac Asimov and Robert Goddard to the not so famous like Truman Henry Stafford and Venetia Burney. Not all of the young scientists actually made their discoveries or inventions as children, but they all documented the ideas that led to their later breakthroughs.

The Captain's Dog: My Journey with the Lewis and Clark Tribe
Ages: 12 & Up
Author: Roland Smith  
Harcourt Brace & Company, $17.00 (Hard Cover)   


When Seaman, a Newfoundland pup, meets Captain Meriwether Lewis, he finds himself on a path that will make history. Lewis is just setting off on his landmark search for the Northwest Passage, and he takes Seaman along. Sharing the curiosity and strength of spirit of his new master, Seaman proves himself a valuable companion at every turn.

 

Don't Miss
Products of Their Times, Shapers of the Future
Like fingerprints, no two lives are alike. Included in the list below are stories about women who were first, women who were famous, and women who led unsung lives of quiet courage and dignity.

Their Stories
Whether they were presidents, athletes or astronauts, each of these biographies illustrates an individual's ability to overcome adversity, take on challenges, and accomplish remarkable things through will-power and determination. What better way to keep children interested in reading than to provide stories that will inspire them?


One Giant Leap: The Story of Neil Armstrong One Giant Leap: The Story of Neil Armstrong
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Don Brown  
Houghton Mifflin Children's Books, $16.00 (Hard Cover)   

This engaging biography of Neil Armstrong relates the story of the first moon landing as a child's dream come true.

Uncommon Traveler: Mary Kingsley in Africa Uncommon Traveler: Mary Kingsley in Africa
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Don Brown  
Houghton Mifflin Co., $16.00 (Hard Cover)   

Undaunted by heat, insects, or crocodiles climbing into her canoe, Mary Kingsley embraced explorations almost unknown for a female of her day.

Max Goes to the Moon Max Goes to the Moon
Ages: 4 - 10 yrs.
Author: Jeffrey Bennett   Illustrator: Alan Okamoto  
Big Kid Science, $16.95 (Hard Cover)   

Max goes to the Moon combines a lavishly illustrated picture book format with fundamental science concepts. In this adventure, Max the Dog and his young human friend Tori undertake a quest to make the first trip to the Moon since the Apollo era. Their trip inspires the nations of the world to join together to build a Moon colony. The engaging story encourages children to learn, dream, and explore, while offering the message that we live on a precious planet.

Building Big Building Big
Ages: 4 & Up
By: David MaCaulay  
Houghton Mifflin Co., $30.00 (Hard Cover)   

Author David Macaulay engages readers’ imaginations and gets them thinking about structures they see and use every day - bridges, tunnels, skyscrapers, domes, and dams. Through vivid text and imagery, he provides a glimpse into the minds of the designers and engineers who first envisioned such projects to see where their inspiration and ideas came from.

Ask Albert Einstein Ask Albert Einstein
Ages: 5 - 8 yrs.
Author: Lynne Barasch   Illustrator: Lynne Barasch  
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $16.00 (Hard Cover)   

The plot sounds like a sweet, heartwarming story worthy of a family sitcom: A frustrated schoolgirl writes to one of history's most brilliant minds for help with a tough homework assignment, and he kindly responds, giving her just enough of a nudge that she is able to figure the answer out herself. Incredibly, that's what actually happened in the spring of 1952, when a fifteen-year-old high school student requested math help from none other than Albert Einstein. Einstein, who was famously modest and good-natured, graciously answered her letter, and the correspondence became the subject of a front-page story in The New York Times.

So You Want to Be An Explorer? So You Want to Be An Explorer?
Ages: 5 & Up
Author: Judith St. George   Illustrator: David Small  
Penguin Putnam Inc./ Philomel, $16.99 (Hard Cover)   

So you want to be an explorer? What does it take, you ask? To find out, take a look at Judith St. George and David Small’s witty collection of some of the best explorers the world has ever known.You know Marco Polo and Christopher Columbus, but what about Mary Kingsley, who studied cannibals in Africa, or cowboy Jim White, who, by mistake, found Carlsbad Caverns?

Buzz Aldrin: Reaching for the Moon Buzz Aldrin: Reaching for the Moon
Ages: 6 - 9 yrs.
Author: Buzz Aldrin   Illustrator: Wendell Minor  
HarperCollins Childrens Books, $15.99 (Hard Cover)   

This is my journey. It didn’t begin when I stepped on board Apollo 11 on July 16, 1969. It began the day I was born -- Edwin Eugene Aldrin Jr., whom everyone called Buzz. Becoming an astronaut took more than education, discipline, and physical strength. It took years of determination and believing that any goal is possible -- from riding a bike alone across the George Washington Bridge at age ten to making a footprint on the Moon.

My Brothers' Flying Machine My Brothers' Flying Machine
Ages: 6 - 9 yrs.
Author: Jane Yolen   Illustrator: Jim Burke  
Little, Brown and Company Children's Publishing, $16.95 (Hard Cover)   

While history made famous the "the Wright Brothers," their younger sister Katherine played a significant role in helping them reach their dream of flying. Told through her eyes, the story details the siblings' childhood, her brothers' experiments with bicycles and flight, and the excitement of fulfilling their dream.


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