Staff Picks: Books
Staff-recommended reading from the
Chicago based musician Jim Gill closes each and every family play session with his version of the traditional Russian folk song “May There Always Be Sunshine”. Most everyone loves the sun. Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm’s Living Sunlight: How Plants Bring the Earth to Life is a feel good celebration of sunshine with the science to back it up.
This companion to Bang’s My Light illuminates the way the sun provides the energy that plants need to create food for themselves and – directly or indirectly - for all the food that animals consume. The first person text in the voice of the sun itself explains the wonder of photosynthesis and respiration in kid friendly language to accompany Molly Bang’s radiant illustrations. Bang and Chisholm, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor of Ecology, describe plants’ and animals’ symbiotic exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide and how the food chain links back to photosynthesis and the sun. Plants provide the oxygen we breathe and the food we eat. Animals give back carbon dioxide in trade along with seed distribution. These are fun and fascinating cycle of life concepts to share with young people of nearly any age.
Four pages of notes at the end of the book expand on the brief text in the body of the book for those who want to dig deeper and for parents like me who might struggle to answer questions that come up after sharing this book with a child. I love the way Living Sunlight celebrates sunshine while at the same time providing real science content about the connection between sunlight and life on earth.