Start with a Book

Ricky Rocket

Books and activities for summer reading and learning from Reading Rockets

Start With a Book: Books and activities for summer reading and summer learning

Summer Science

Mother and daughter looking at nature specimen with a magnifying glass outside

Reading and writing happens across the curriculum, including the sciences. This summer, strengthen children's literacy, inquiry, and problem-solving skills — and connect kids with high-quality nonfiction and informational books.

What you’ll find here:

Bird Buddies

Summer science: multicultural young children doing bird exploration activities

Learn about the connection between birds and dinosaurs, fantastic feathers, finding food and hunting prey, bird brains, nest-building, bird songs, and how we can protect birds and their habitats. Take a daily bird walk, set up an observation station, and start a personal bird journal. Bird Buddies is a 5-day program that connects books and writing with hands-on activities and other active learning opportunities. Our downloadable toolkit has all the resources you need for your summer program or at-home learning.

Space Rangers

Summer science: multicultural young children doing space exploration activities

Where do stars come from? Why does the moon change shape? What is the solar system and why is the sun at its center? How big are all the planets? What is gravity, and is there gravity on the moon and the planets? What’s it like for astronauts to live and work in space? Questions around space seem to be as infinite as the night sky itself. Our 5-day Space Rangers program includes dozens of carefully chosen fiction and nonfiction books, hands-on activities, writing ideas, and educational media to deepen the learning.

River Rangers

Summer science: multicultural young children doing river exploration and water activities

River Rangers gives kids a chance to learn about the life and science above, under, and around rivers including topics around pollution, water conservation, and plant and animal life. River Rangers combines hands-on activities with great fiction, poetry, and picture book biographies, inspiring kids to learn all about the complex world of rivers. Our downloadable toolkit has all the resources you need for your summer program or at-home learning.

DIY science camp: weeks of fun and learning!

Parents and summer program staff! Looking for ways to bring more science into your summer learning activities? We’ve got some cool ideas for warm summer days. Choose a topic below, then explore the hands-on activities. You'll also find recommended fiction and nonfiction books plus theme-based apps and websites to deepen the learning. (Find lots more books and activities by browsing our complete library of Science, Nature, and Math themes.)

Begin your adventures by selecting a topic below!

Literacy in the sciences tip sheets

Making Predictions

Scientists, just like readers, make predictions all the time. Help kids to see the connection between what they can do as readers and what they can do as science explorers. Here are two simple ways to encourage kids to put their prediction skills to work.

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Patterns and Categorizing

Children begin using their senses to recognize patterns and categorize things at a young age — skills that play an important role in early learning, including word study, science and math. This tip sheet provides some simple activities to help build pattern recognition and categorization skills.

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Recording Observations: Journals and Field Notes

Science and math explorations provide growing readers with a chance to strengthen observational and record-keeping skills by keeping a special journal to fill with sketches, notes, and graphs. Try these ideas to get started.

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Recording Observations: Capturing and Sharing Images

Young kids love technology, gadgets, and nature! While parents may be looking for ways to reduce screen time for their kids, here are a few helpful suggestions for integrating simple technology and books into your outdoor adventures in a fun and educational way.

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Beat the Heat with Your Weather Page

Summer's temperatures often send kids and adults inside to cooler air. Here are a few tips to make the most of those hot afternoons with some literacy and math fun using only your newspaper, computer, or other household items.

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The Night Before the Museum

Day trips, vacations and special outings create special memories and great learning opportunities for families. Here are a few "stops" to make before your visit to help children get the most out of a family or school educational experience. .

Nonfiction books for kids

Looking for information on how to choose and read nonfiction books with children? Find tips (in English and Spanish) and nonfiction booklists in our Kids' Books section.