Be curious: moulding a scientific mind through picture books

Jun 13, 2013 by

I used to despise physics and mathematics in school. I was happy to leave them far behind as soon as it was possible. I couldn’t relate to them in any way and they felt so distant, boring and inconsequential. It was clearly a result of the way I was introduced to the subjects. I just wish someone had inculcated in me the wonder and spirit of science at the start. I found it so limiting, which it is everything but.

Two picture books I read recently made me feel like science was exciting; a revelation indeed!

Illustration copyright © 2012 by Gabi Swiatkowska

Text copyright © 2012 Kate Hosford
Illustration copyright © 2012 by Gabi Swiatkowska

 

Infinity and Me  (written by  Kate Hosford  and illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska) is a picture book that was published in 2012, and talks about the mathematical concept of infinity. Through the inquiring mind of 8-year-old Uma, we begin to ponder about infinity and how ungraspable it is. All the questions stem from objects and people around her, and it feels relatable as a result. The illustrations are whimsical and charming, and really evoke the magnitude of Uma’s thoughts. This book is so successful because the way it addresses the subject is almost incidental; her questions about infinity feel completely organic for a child wondering about little things in her world becoming never-ending entities.

On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein is a brand new book published by Chronicle Books (one of my favorite children’s book publishers in the US).  It is written by Jennifer Berne and the illustrations are by the  delightful Vladimir Randunsky. I discovered his work after moving here and am in love with his loose, quirky illustration style. If you like it too, I absolutely hands-down recommend his recent picture book Advice to Little Girls, where he illustrated an old (1865!) satirical text of Mark Twain’s. It is hilarious and positively delicious. I feel like framing each spread and hanging it up at home. Anyway I digress; back to Einstein :)

Illustration copyright © 2013 by Vladimir Radunsky

Text copyright © 2013 Jennifer Berne
Illustration copyright © 2013 by Vladimir Radunsky

 

On a Beam of Light is a remarkable book. The text is not as short as you would find in most other picture books, but its cadence and flow is effortless, and makes for excellent reading. Matched with Randunksy’s illustrations, the book focuses on the inquisitive and questioning mind that Einstein had. What makes it such a compelling read is that it emphasizes the importance of imagination and thought that eventually led Einstein to question the larger, bigger things about the world around him.  It is not an exposition on his scientific discoveries, but is a story about how he grew up to be the ground-breaking scientist he became. The book leaves us with a belief that that we too can think up great things if we are open to being curious. Fabulous. I wish I had read it when I was a kid.

There really is so much beauty in science; it just needs to be approached from that perspective. And these two books evoke a sense of wonder that will make you think more about the world around you, and the universe we live in.

 

 

7 Comments

  1. Raji

    Awesome illustration :-) I enjoyed every bit of your writing and I’m surely going to grab these books for Vrishank. I can see how Vrishank has this inquisitive curious mind and I only wish that the books that he read nurture that. Glad that I have such wonderful people like you around to help provide that kind of environment.

    • Gayathri

      Yes, aren’t those illustrations gorgeous? Both books have amazing illustrators with very unique styles.
      Awww, so sweet! You’re so welcome. Happy to be a source, and glad you’re finding it useful. If Vrishank is already scientifically inclined, these books will only get him more excited, I think :) If it could change the mind of a person who was allergic to science, it’s a testament to how good they are 😀

  2. Jogi

    Agree with you on all counts. If I had them way back when I truly needed them, I’d probably appreciated science a little bit more. Me liking this post :)

    • Gayathri

      Jogipapa!! Hellooooooooo stranger:)
      Yes, I also wish I had teachers that didn’t make me loathe science.
      So glad you liked! Great to see you here :)

  3. Lovely post! Infinity and Me is a gorgeous, wonderful book.

    • Gayathri

      Thanks so much; always happy when people enjoy the posts! And yes, totally agree with you :)

  4. Thank you so much for this! Gabi and I are honored that our book resonated with you.

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