These books aren't science fiction or fantasy, but are so darn good I just had to find a place for them! This page will feature mostly science-based fiction and non-fiction suitable for teens and young adults. And remember, yesterday's science fiction is today's reality -- submarines, rocket ships, robots, computers, and more!
Teachers, parents and teens, the AR books are indicated by the bright green title.
Click on the image to order your book online!
Teachers, parents and teens, the AR books are indicated by the bright green title.
Click on the image to order your book online!
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar & Raymond Obstfeld
What Color Is My World?: The Lost History of African-American Inventors (Ages 8+)
"Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, basketball legend and the NBA's alltime leading scorer, champions a lineup of little-known African-American inventors in this lively, kid-friendly book.
"Did you know that James West invented the microphone in your cell phone? That Fred Jones invented the refrigerated truck that makes supermarkets possible? Or that Dr. Percy Julian synthesized cortisone from soy, easing untold people's pain? These are just some of the black inventors and innovators scoring big points in this dynamic look at several unsung heroes who shared a desire to improve people's lives. Offering profiles with fast facts on flaps and framed by a funny contemporary story featuring two feisty twins, here is a nod to the minds behind the gamma electric cell and the ice-cream scoop, improvements to traffic lights, open-heart surgery, and more - inventors whose ingenuity and perseverance against great odds made our world safer, better, and brighter."
Turn Right at Machu Picchu - Non-fiction (Ages 15+)
"What happens when an unadventurous adventure writer tries to re-create the original expedition to Machu Picchu?
"In 1911, Hiram Bingham III climbed into the Andes Mountains of Peru and “discovered” Machu Picchu. While history has recast Bingham as a villain who stole both priceless artifacts and credit for finding the great archeological site, Mark Adams set out to retrace the explorer’s perilous path in search of the truth—except he’d written about adventure far more than he’d actually lived it. In fact, he’d never even slept in a tent.
"Turn Right at Machu Picchu is Adams’ fascinating and funny account of his journey through some of the world’s most majestic, historic, and remote landscapes guided only by a hard-as-nails Australian survivalist and one nagging question: Just what was Machu Picchu?" I thoroughly enjoyed this non-fiction story and the interweaving of a desk-bound travel writer (Adams), Bingham, and the history of the Incas and their conflict with the Spanish conquistadores. Great fun and not a bit pretentious, Adams tells on himself multiple times, including his lack of athletic ability. Highly recommended! - RDJ
Roda Ahmed (Author) / Stasia Burrington (Illustrator)
Mae Among the Stars (Grades Preschool - 3 / Ages 4 - 8)
"A beautiful picture book for sharing, inspired by the life of the first African American woman to travel in space, Mae Jemison.
"A great classroom and bedtime read-aloud, Mae Among the Stars is the perfect book for young readers who have big dreams and even bigger hearts!
"When Little Mae was a child, she dreamed of dancing in space. She imagined herself surrounded by billions of stars, floating, gliding, and discovering.
"She wanted to be an astronaut.
"Her mom told her, 'If you believe it, and work hard for it, anything is possible.'
"Little Mae’s curiosity, intelligence, and determination, matched with her parents' encouraging words, paved the way for her incredible success at NASA as the first African American woman to travel in space.
"This book will inspire other young girls to reach for the stars, to aspire for the impossible, and to persist with childlike imagination."
Marc Aronson & Lee Berger
The Skull in the Rock: How a Scientist, a Boy, and Google Earth Opened a New Window on Human Origins - Non-fiction (Ages 10+)
"In 2008, Professor Lee Berger--with the help of his curious 9-year-old son--discovered two remarkably well preserved, two-million-year-old fossils of an adult female and young male, known as Australopithecus sediba; a previously unknown species of ape-like creatures that may have been a direct ancestor of modern humans. This discovery of has been hailed as one of the most important archaeological discoveries in history. The fossils reveal what may be one of humankind's oldest ancestors. Berger believes the skeletons they found on the Malapa site in South Africa could be the 'Rosetta stone that unlocks our understanding of the genus Homo' and may just redesign the human family tree.
"Berger, an Eagle Scout and National Geographic Grantee, is the Reader in Human Evolution and the Public Understanding of Science in the Institute for Human Evolution at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.
"The focus of the book will be on the way in which we can apply new thinking to familiar material and come up with a breakthrough. Marc Aronson is particularly interested in framing these issues for young people and has had enormous success with this approach in his previous books: Ain't Nothing But a Man and If Stones Could Speak.
"Berger's discovery in one of the most excavated and studied areas on Earth revealed a treasure trove of human fossils--and an entirely new human species--where people thought no more field work might ever be necessary. Technology and revelation combined, plus a good dose of luck, to broaden by ten times the number of early human fossils known, rejuvenating this field of study and posing countless more questions to be answered in years and decades to come." This is a non-fiction book.
Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story About Brain Science - Non-fiction (Grades 7+ / Ages 12+)
"Phineas Gage was truly a man with a hole in his head. A railroad construction foreman, Phineas was blasting rock near Cavendish, Vermont, in 1848 when a thirteen-pound iron rod was shot through his brain. Miraculously, he survived another eleven years and became a textbook case in brain science. But he was forever changed by the accident, and what happened inside his brain will tell you a lot about how your brain works and what makes us who we are."
From Amazon reviewer A.R. Bird - "...By and large, non-fiction titles are the hardest ones to sell to kids. You tell a ten-year-old that you have a story about a boy who finds a mysterious dragon's egg and you'll probably have a convert before you've uttered so much as ten sentences. But if you hold in your hot little hand an item that contains actual FACTS.... usually you're up a crik. Not in the case of Phineas. This book is so chock full of blood, splattered brains, busted skulls, and other goopy beginnings that your intended audience, whatever the age, will be hanging on your every word..." This is a non-fiction book. According to Amazon, it's intended for ages 9+, but AR places it at 9th to 12th grade. I think I agree with it being more appropriate for a middle school or older teen. (RDJ)
Black Pioneers of Science and Invention - Non-fiction (Ages 10+)
"A readable, perceptive account of the lives of fourteen gifted innovators who have played important roles in scientific and industrial progress. The achievements of Benjamin Banneker, Granville T. Woods, George Washington Carver, and others have made jobs easier, saved countless lives, and in many cases, altered the course of history. Includes a bibliography and an index." This is a non-fiction book.
The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements - Non-fiction (Ages 13+)
"'Why did Gandhi hate iodine (I, 53)? How did radium (Ra, 88) nearly ruin Marie Curie's reputation? And why is gallium (Ga, 31) the go-to element for laboratory pranksters?'*
"The Periodic Table is a crowning scientific achievement, but it's also a treasure trove of adventure, betrayal, and obsession. These fascinating tales follow every element on the table as they play out their parts in human history, and in the lives of the (frequently) mad scientists who discovered them. THE DISAPPEARING SPOON masterfully fuses science with the classic lore of invention, investigation, and discovery--from the Big Bang through the end of time.
"*Though solid at room temperature, gallium is a moldable metal that melts at 84 degrees Fahrenheit. A classic science prank is to mold gallium spoons, serve them with tea, and watch guests recoil as their utensils disappear." This is a non-fiction book.
Justin Scott Parr
Sage Carrington, Eighth-Grade Science Sleuth (Volume 1) (Ages 10+)
"Every 12-year-old’s two favorite words: Summer vacation. No cold weather. No school. Just months of free time ahead.
"Best friends Sage Carrington and Isabel Flores are making the most of their summer break when they discover an antique treasure map near the Washington Monument. But when faced with difficult clues and a bully in the form of Edwin Hooser, the tween girls must use every bit of imagination, drive, and intellect to outsmart Edwin and decipher the map.
"Join Sage and Isabel on a journey through the nation’s capital as they try to solve the puzzle and recover a priceless bounty."
From a Goodreads review by Brooke Rasche - "There are so many amazing qualities this book presents. The main character, Sage, is an African-American and has braces. While this describes plenty of readers, very few main characters are represented this way. Sage's best friend is a Latina who teaches her Spanish throughout the book. They have a real relationship where there is a lot of love, but also some jealousy and fights. There is also a local bully, who I think is represented in a realistic way. My favorite thing about this book is that Sage loves science and she's not afraid of being a "nerd". Plus, about 100+ more things."
Sage Carrington, Math Mystery in Mexico City (Volume 2) (Ages 10+)
"The adventure continues...
"Best friends Sage and Isabel are traveling with family across Mexico when they encounter another baffling mystery. This time, it's a cryptic math riddle painted inside a portrait by renowned artist Frida Kahlo.
"Tag along with Sage and Isabel on a quest that stretches from the pyramids at Teotihuacan to the majestic temples of Chichen Itza, from the Olmec ruins of San Lorenzo to Mexico's island paradise of Cozumel.
"Your favorite tween detectives are on the case and won't stop until they discover the significance of Frida's peculiar numeric puzzle.
"Justin Scott Parr's Sage Carrington series is for all fans of Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew, Cam Jansen, and the Hardy Boys."
Sage Carrington, Book of Love: Journal #1 (Volume 1)
"Share your thoughts and offer opinions in this full-color journal. Respond to questions alongside Sage and Isabel as their adventures come to life in amazing detail. You can write, draw, and paint inside. Just make sure you don’t leave any blank pages. Oh, and try your hardest to protect this book. Some secrets are only safe between friends. And don't forget to check out the companion novel Sage Carrington, Eighth-Grade Science Sleuth to complete your collection!"
This is a journal that
complements the book,
featuring full color
illustrations of Sage
Darcy Pattison (Author) / Valeria Tisnes (Illustrator)
Nefertiti, the Spidernaut: The Jumping Spider Who Learned to Hunt in Space
(Grades K - 6 / Ages 6 - 12)
"THE AMAZING VOYAGE OF NEFERTITI, THE SPIDERNAUT
"Most spiders spin a web and passively wait for prey to come to them. Jumping spiders, by contrast, actively hunt by jumping to catch their food. What if a jumping spider was sent to the International Space Station? When it jumped, it would simply float. No one knew if the spider could hunt in a weightless environment.
"This nonfiction picture book for elementary kids chronicles the amazing voyage of Nefertiti, the Spidernaut to the International Space Station and back. She's a Phiddipus johnsonii, or Johnson jumping spider, native to western United States. Her colorful anatomy--red, black and teal--made for stunning photography and video. In 2012, Nefertitti clocked a record-breaking 100 days in space, during which time she circled Earth about 1584 times, traveling about 41,580,000 miles.
"Astronaut Sunita Williams, Captain U.S. Navy said, 'It was a suspense story for me as it happened. I didn't know if she would survive when I unpacked her for the first time, or when I packed her up and sent her back home to Earth.'
"This is an astonishing story of change: through the dark and cold, in spite of being weightless and isolated, this incredible spider adapted and learned to hunt. Against all odds, she survived to return to Earth, where she had to re-adapt to Earth's gravity. Nefertiti's story of survival brings hope that we, too, can adapt to a changing world.
"Join Nefertiti in this inspiring journey into space."
Margot Lee Shetterly (Author) / Laura Freeman (Illustrator)
Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race
(Grades Preschool - 3 / Ages 4 - 8)
"Based on the New York Times bestselling book and the Academy Award–nominated movie, author Margot Lee Shetterly and illustrator Laura Freeman bring the incredibly inspiring true story of four black women who helped NASA launch men into space to picture book readers!
"Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden were good at math…really good.
"They participated in some of NASA's greatest successes, like providing the calculations for America's first journeys into space. And they did so during a time when being black and a woman limited what they could do. But they worked hard. They persisted. And they used their genius minds to change the world.
"In this beautifully illustrated picture book edition, we explore the story of four female African American mathematicians at NASA, known as 'colored computers,' and how they overcame gender and racial barriers to succeed in a highly challenging STEM-based career.
"'Finally, the extraordinary lives of four African American women who helped NASA put the first men in space is available for picture book readers," proclaims Brightly in their article '18 Must-Read Picture Books of 2018.' "Will inspire girls and boys alike to love math, believe in themselves, and reach for the stars.'"
Margot Lee Shetterly
Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race Paperback (Ages 15 - Adult)
"The #1 New York Times bestseller
"The phenomenal true story of the black female mathematicians at NASA whose calculations helped fuel some of America’s greatest achievements in space. Soon to be a major motion picture starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kirsten Dunst, and Kevin Costner.
"Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space.
"Among these problem-solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African American women, some of the brightest minds of their generation. Originally relegated to teaching math in the South’s segregated public schools, they were called into service during the labor shortages of World War II, when America’s aeronautics industry was in dire need of anyone who had the right stuff. Suddenly, these overlooked math whizzes had a shot at jobs worthy of their skills, and they answered Uncle Sam’s call, moving to Hampton, Virginia and the fascinating, high-energy world of the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory.
"Even as Virginia’s Jim Crow laws required them to be segregated from their white counterparts, the women of Langley’s all-black 'West Computing' group helped America achieve one of the things it desired most: a decisive victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War, and complete domination of the heavens.
"Starting in World War II and moving through to the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement and the Space Race, Hidden Figures follows the interwoven accounts of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden, four African American women who participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes. It chronicles their careers over nearly three decades they faced challenges, forged alliances and used their intellect to change their own lives, and their country’s future."
The Radioactive Boy Scout: The Frightening True Story of a Whiz Kid and His Homemade Nuclear Reactor - Non-fiction (Grades 9+ / Ages 14+)
"Growing up in suburban Detroit, David Hahn was fascinated by science. While he was working on his Atomic Energy badge for the Boy Scouts, David’s obsessive attention turned to nuclear energy. Throwing caution to the wind, he plunged into a new project: building a model nuclear reactor in his backyard garden shed.
"Posing as a physics professor, David solicited information on reactor design from the U.S. government and from industry experts. Following blueprints he found in an outdated physics textbook, David cobbled together a crude device that threw off toxic levels of radiation. His wholly unsupervised project finally sparked an environmental emergency that put his town’s forty thousand suburbanites at risk. The EPA ended up burying his lab at a radioactive dumpsite in Utah. This offbeat account of ambition and, ultimately, hubris has the narrative energy of a first-rate thriller." This is a non-fiction book. While the reviews on this story are mixed, the true story of this troubled teen is fascinating. Please be aware that the author does some unnecessary editoralizing about the Boy Scouts and nuclear power. A middle-school science teacher highly recommended this book to me.
John Hudson Tiner
Johannes Kepler - Giants of Faith and Science series Non-Fiction (Ages 9+)
"This giant of astronomy considered his studies to be a way of looking into God's creation." This extremely good non-fiction biography, appropriate for a middle school audience, tells the story of Johannes Kepler, who was a faithful Christian his entire life, and saw no conflict between his study of astronomy and the solar system and his faith. He was persecuted for being a Protestant by the Catholic regime and then persecuted by leaders of his own church for refusing to sign a statement of Lutheran doctrine, which did not accept that other Christian faiths were, in fact, Christians. Note: He also wrote "The Dream" which is probably the earliest science fiction story. Highly recommended!
A little shameless promotion of my own books...
And my personal website featuring sneak peeks of my own WIP and a short story, which are not YA, but I don't write about sex so probably safe for older teens. http://www.ruthdj.weebly.com
Legal stuff - “We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.”