, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp 231-250
Date: 22 May 2008

The Contribution of Trade Books to Early Science Literacy: In and Out of School

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Lifelong science literacy begins with attitudes and interests established early in childhood. The use of trade books (i.e., a literary work intended for sale to the general public) in North American school classrooms to support the development of science literacy invites an examination of the quality of science content disseminated to students. A total of 116 trade books were examined to: (a) determine the degree to which science trade books complement expected science knowledge outcomes outlined in school curricula, and (b) compare trade book content to the goals of scientific literacy. Analysis across four science topics, Dinosaurs, Space, Inheritance, and Growth and Life Properties, revealed that this body of children’s literature is inconsistent in its coverage of curricular goals and elements of scientific literacy. Because trade books represent children’s first exposure to science, these shortcomings should be addressed if these books are to be maximally effective in promoting science literacy. Implications for using trade books in the classroom are discussed.