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By Kim Fleming

Kim Fleming-finalRecreational reading is a bridge between learning in the classroom and true understanding of a subject. Creating that bridge is as easy as guiding your teen to books that provide a healthy dose of information cleverly disguised as a great read. The following titles demonstrate the excitement of science in real life applications, from NASCAR to NASA. Introduce these books to your secondary student and watch their interest in science grow!


  • The Physics of NASCAR (Diandra Leslie-Pelecky): How can a car going 190 mph operate with precision? How can race car drivers walk away from disastrous crashes? The author, a physicist, caught a NASCAR race on television and wondered those same things. In The Physics of NASCAR, Leslie-Pelecky explores the science behind NASCAR—the physics, chemistry, aerodynamics, and more that create a fast, safe, and winning car and driving experience.
  • The Disappearing Spoon (Sam Kean): The periodic table is just a big chart on the science classroom wall, right? Not so! In The Disappearing Spoon, Keen reveals the fascinating uses (and misuses!) of every element. He relates intriguing tales of the central role that elements played in the dramas of human history, leading the reader to realize that chemistry is anything but boring.
  • Bomb (Steve Sheiken): In 1938, a German scientist made a discovery that would change the world—a uranium atom will split in two when placed near a radioactive material. This discovery spawned an international race to harness the power of nuclear fission in a weapon unlike the world had ever seen. Sheinkin’s account of the creation of the first atomic bomb is rooted in science, has the drama of great history, and reads like a spy novel.
  • Team Moon (Catherine Thimmesh): The story of the 1969 moon landing is a familiar one for most Americans. However, we often hear the story from the prospective of the astronauts. In Team Moon, Thimmesh relates the moon landing from the viewpoint of the people—over 400,000 people—that made it happen. The people profiled include scientists and engineers as well as seamstresses and secretaries, all with hopes and fears, but also all united in a single-minded focus on a common goal. As a result, Team Moon is a fascinating and inspiring read about the potential of science and teamwork.
  • A Black Hole Is Not a Hole (Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano): The mysteries and complexities of black holes become comprehensible in this humorous and enjoyable book that covers the life cycle of stars and beyond. DeCristofano’s concrete examples, illustrations, and photographs explain the parts and characteristics of black holes, theories of physics, and our understanding of space in a simple manner that also conveys the awe-inspiring beauty of the galaxy.

Editor’s Note: Thank you for reading today’s post! If you would like to write a review on any of these titles listed above, or another of interest to our audience, we’d love to highlight your perspective on The AAPS Blog. Please contact aapsblog@aaps.org.

Kim Fleming is a middle school librarian in Prince William County. She loves to connect students with books that make the curriculum come alive.