Have you ever come across a book that just electrifies you – makes your toes tingle and your face smile? Fills your heart with happiness and hope? When I was given the opportunity to review two of the Annabelle and Aiden books, written by J.R Becker and illustrated by Max Rambaldi, that is precisely what happened to me. I got that excited knot in my stomach, because FINALLY someone out there found a beautiful way to bring some complex science topics to kids of ALL ages.
When I was asked if I’d like to review the Annabelle and Aiden series, at first I thought “Well you know, they’re picture books and my kids are getting older but I think my readers would love these books”. I really thought that my kids would be like “Yeah, no Mom. We’re over picture books”. Boy was I wrong.
Neutral Science and Underestimating Our Children
One of the arguments ‘for’ neutral science, or one of the reasons a lot of people aren’t bothered by it, is this idea that the topics like evolution or the Big Bang aren’t things that elementary students can really get anyway so it’s okay if it’s not in a science curriculum for the younger years.
Little kids can’t understand something so huge as evolution. Right?
One of the most dangerous things we can do as home educators is to underestimate what our children are capable of. We (and I am definitely prone to this myself) often are too intimidated to find ways to bring the tougher topics to our kids. Myself, I am not confident in my ability to explain some science topics because I wasn’t a strong student in that particular subject. So I try to find the best curriculum I can, that will guide my kids when I can’t.
J.R Becker, the author of the Annabelle and Aiden series, has thoughtfully and beautifully created a series of picture books that contain some really complex science – in a way that young children (and adults who don’t always feel capable in science) can really understand.
The Annabelle and Aiden Series
This series includes three picture books, all written in gorgeous poetry and with unique and beautiful illustrations.
The first book, “Annabelle and Aiden in The Story of Life“, starts out with a young child asking and wondering about why we are the way we are. In rhyming form – that sounds perfect when read aloud – a wise owl answers Annabelle and brings her on a journey. Not only does our wise owl friend explain through the process of evolution but also – the importance of being kind to each other since we are all family and we are all deeply connected.
With “Annabelle and Aiden: Worlds Within Us“, we go on a similar journey. Encouraging the wondering and questioning that is such a natural part of childhood, we hang out this time with Tardigrade Tom. Going back to the beginning of space and time, Tardigrade Tom guides the children from the unverse’s early days, the Big Bang, and how we are literally made of star dust.
One of the most wonderful things about this series? This is not just your typical “cutesy science book” – the prevailing theme by the time each of these books closes off is that we are all connected. We are not just looking at science and the world from the outside in – we are part of it. We are important and so much bigger than we could ever know.
In “Oh, The Things We Believed” our friends Annabelle and Aiden go on yet another journey – this time, led by their new friend Skeptisaurus the Dinosaur (ha! My kids and I all laughed right out loud when we read the name – very witty, Mr Becker!) through the history of myths and legends and why we once believed the things we did (and do?). J.R. Becker engages the reader’s natural tendency towards wonder and awe of magic – and shows them that science can be, and is, just as magical and full of things to be excited about. He shows us that “the answers might not be magic, but they are always magical!”
Good For Kids Of All Ages
So, then, who should read this? Who would love these books?
In short, everyone. I think these books are for everyone and should be part of every child’s reading list – regardless of age. These stories will inspire not just scientific thinking but a true love of the natural world around us.
My kids are usually “too cool for picture books” (sigh…Tweens, am i right?) but these books have been on our coffee table since we received them. We have read them over and over again – and each time, we’re just as captivated.
By the beauty of the language, the intricate illustrations, and the feeling we’re left with of “wow…we’re amazing and so is this world”.
I know that these will be “keeper books”, the ones you keep as precious favourites, until my kids are grown. We have treasured the journeys that Annabelle and Aiden have taken, and we cannot wait to see what they’ll get up to next!