To Read Is To Fly

This bibliography of science and nature themed stories is privately published by 3 Dogs Publishing. Contact: — or — 3 Dogs Publishing,  216 #25, F Street, Davis, CA 95616 USA 

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To READ Is To Fly is a 144 page annotated bibliography of selected classic, award winning and new author story books, novels, subscription magazines, poetry and playscripts for all ages - children, teens, young and old adults - created to foster a love of reading and, through reading, a lifelong interest in science and nature and an understanding of the ways in which they affect our lives and, in turn, how our lives influence and change our world.

      Flights of Fact and Fancy 
      Family reading; 
      Reading stories and novels to encounter science 
      and nature motifs, concepts and ideas.
      Supplemental classroom reading.

The children's stories involve plots and incidental events that are related in some way to a science. The purpose is to subtly introduce science that is invisibly embedded in what we do in our daily lives. Some of the stories are fiction-based-on-fact. Others are fictional stories that present behaviors and ways of questioning and problem solving  typically used by scientists as they work.  A few of the books are stories based directly on science or are biographical memoirs of scientists and their work.

      Books are the plane, and the train, and the road.
      They are the destination, and the journey. They are home. —Anna Quindlen

"So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray, Go throw your TV set away, And in its place you can install, a lovely bookshelf on the wall."—Roald Dahl.

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What's this about?

 The To Read Is To Fly list is intended to be helpful to children as they search for story books to read for pleasure; and to their parents who can make choices for the youngest and provide guidance in the choices of older readers; and to teachers who are looking for supplemental general science reading story books to suggest to their students.

            A list of 100+ such books cannot possibly include all the books worthy of inclusion and so this one is meant as a catalyst to encourage further exploration at libraries and bookstores to find books that can help build and reinforce an awareness and familiarity with science as it relates to all aspects of our lives.

But Wait! What is a "story" anyway?

            Stories are our way of sharing and preserving our histories, cultures, speculations, opinions and other such information about ourselves and our world. This little booklet aims to help connect story-readers with science and nature fact and fancy.

            Today the word "story" changes meaning depending on who is talking. A journalist writing an opinion piece or a factual account of an event, or an academic writing a report, may describe what they are writing as "stories." Storytelling techniques are also used to make children's textbooks more interesting to study. These sorts of stories have not been selected for inclusion here.

            In this bibliography the "stories" are of various kinds, mostly fiction. Whatever term has been chosen to define a book chosen for this publication they all have science either overtly part of the story or subtly embedded, the writing and illustrations are high quality, and the science content and message are valid, engaging and timeless.

            Let's amplify that explanation a bit by looking at what the terms mean as far as this bibliography is concerned. Fiction will be novels or short stories that deal imaginatively with people and their actions and experiences through a connected sequence of events. The author's own imagination creates the places where the story happens, the plot, the characters and the conversations. On the other hand, fact-based fiction is loosely based on real events or people.

            What about nonfiction? These stories are based on real-life events, and factual science information. In this category biographies are personal life stories written by someone else. They may tell most of or only part of their subject's life through careful research using imaginative re-creations of scenes and events, and invented conversations. Autobiographies are life stories or selected personal experiences written by the author of his or her own life story. Narrative nonfiction is text that gets factual information across in a form that uses many of the elements of storytelling. True stories are written like novels or short stories. The author either lived through or has researched the events and re-creates scenes and experiences keeping the story as accurate as possible.

            The titles selected to include in "To Read Is To Fly" are general literature stories –old and new, classic and award winning. They are all waiting to be read and enjoyed.

Anne Hance

"Science is fun. Science is curiosity. We all have natural curiosity. Science is a process of investigating. It's posing questions and coming up with a method. It's delving in". - Sally Ride



1. Well written stories.

2. Valid science and nature content relevant to the story.

3. Characters in the story exhibit (especially in the ‘mystery’ codes and puzzles theme) behaviors including curiosity, questioning, investigation, analysis, critical thinking and problem solving.

4. Stories with positive human values.


• 100+ Children's, teens' and young adult fiction and nonfiction story books and novels that have nature and science themes within their stories;

• 10 Graphic Novels with integrated science themes;

• 10 Poetry Books with integrated science themes and suitable for young people;

• 10 Professional Play Scripts – adult plays with integrated science themes and suitable for reading by young adults.

• 10 Subscription Magazines with science information and stories for children.

EXAMPLE of a Listing (Descriptions are separate)

Intermediate Readers [2]

Ages 8-12, grades 3-6; stories with more involved subject matter requiring good reading skills and some maturity.   (42 Titles)

_____Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science: The First Computer Programmer by Diane Stanley — Biographical [2]

_____Adam's Atomic Adventures by Alice Baxter — Fiction [2]

_____Beetle Boy by M G Leonard —Fiction [2]

_____Blue John's Cavern: Time Travel Rocks! by Tracy Barnhart — Adventure fiction [2]

_____Boy Who Harnessed The Wind, The: Young Readers' Edition by William Kamkwamba — True story [2]

_____Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z., The by Kate Messner — Fiction [2]

Etcetera ...

EXAMPLE of the descriptions (For Intermediate Readers) [2]

Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science: The First Computer Programmer by Diane Stanley (2016) Biographical [2]

Age Range 9-11 years / Grade Level 3-5  / 810L / Theme: Biography, Early computer programming

            This is a lively, illustrated biography of Ada Lovelace, who is known as the first computer programmer. Ada was born two hundred years ago to the famous poet, Lord Byron, and his mathematical wife, Annabella. Like her mother, she had a passion for science, math, and machines. With her meticulous, step-by-step detail of how to code numbers she wrote the first computer program in partnership with mathematician Charles Babbage who invented the first mechanical computer. The text briefly touches upon such topics as the Industrial Revolution.

NOTES: ________________________________________________________________________________________   

Adam's Atomic Adventures by Alice Baxter (2007) Fiction [2]

Age Range 8-11 / Grade Level 3-6 / Theme: Chemistry

            Mrs. Gold, Adam's rather peculiar science teacher, makes him stay behind after class to share with him a startling secret: she's much more than a science teacher-Mrs. Gold is a powerful alchemist who's counting on Adam's help to save the world! Mrs. Gold has chosen Adam, one of her best students, for a critical task. She plans to shrink Adam down to the microscopic size of a single atom and send him to the Periodic School for the Elements to search for Ollie, a missing atom of oxygen.  Alice L. Baxter taught chemistry for more than thirty years

NOTES: _______________________________________________________________________________________________

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This little book is about encouraging reading to inspire interest, enjoyment and familiarity with science and nature but I would be remiss if I did not also strongly encourage intimate, personal involvement with our natural surroundings.

I recently read what Dave Goulson (Professor of Biological Sciences at Sussex University UK [1] ) has to say about the large majority of children who grow out of their fascination with nature by about the age of eight and no longer see the natural world as in any way personally relevant to them.

Goulson suggests that the change comes about when children get too few opportunities in our modern, urbanized world to regularly interact with nature. He notes that they cannot learn to love something they do not know.  For example, a staggering 80% of U.S and 82% of UK populations now live in urban areas. Many children in such circumstances in the U.S. and in Britain today do not explore and investigate nature beyond their homes at the wildlife edges of town as I and other children of my era did. A child who has never been lucky enough to wander through a wildflower meadow in late spring to smell the flowers, hear the birds and insect songs and watch butterflies flit amongst the grass is unlikely to care much if such natural areas disappear. 

Even if the casual freedom of past times can no longer exist it is still possible for individuals, families and school classes to experience the natural world on a regular basis if they wish. Such places still exist and are available to the public. Additionally, many families live in locations where their gardens can offer wonderful opportunities for grubbing around in the soils to grow vegetables, fruits and flowers or discover amazing varieties of plant and animal wildlife.

The possibilities for learning to love nature do exist but in our current times they need to be more regularly, actively and purposefully sought out.

So, my heartfelt admonition, dear reader, is for you to engage both in reading about the natural world and in interacting with the real thing as much as possible.

       [1] Goulson, Dave, (2017). Bee Quest. London SW1V 2SA: Jonathan Cape, Penguin Random House