by Loree Griffin Burns
Houghton Mifflin 2007
I am moving to fifth grade next year, and in my preparing, I am reading up on things that I may or may not teach next year. Since I don't know exactly what subjects I'll be teaching, I'm reading a little bit of science, social studies, and preparing for the fifth grade novels I might be teaching.
When the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards were announced and Tracking Trash was on the nonfiction honor list, I knew I had to get ahold of this book. First of all, I love nonfiction, so I love to see children's writers make ho-hum subjects incredibly interesting. And better yet, fifth graders have to learn about the ocean and its currents in science.
One of the great things about this book is that it talks to real people who are scientists that study the ocean currents. What makes it appealing to kids is that these scientists track the oceans currents by keeping track of trash like sneakers, rubber duckies, and LEGOS. They use modern technology to study this trash and predict where it will float to.
The things I like about it as a teacher:
1) The information is current. This is research that is being done right now (not 30 or 40 years ago). So many of the science books in our libraries are very outdated.
2) The photographs are beautiful. It doesn't do any good to have fabulous information in a kids nonfiction book if it doesn't have good pictures. The photos really draw you into this book and bring the information to life.
3) It makes science real and important for kids. The trash being tracked in the ocean is harming polluting the oceans and harming sea life. Kids find out what they can do about this problem and how they might be contributing to the demise of our ocean wildlife.
4) The book has links to websites and other books on oceans for kids. The only thing I was disappointed in was that one of the links is dead. It tried to find it by googling also, but was unsuccessful. It's obviously not the author's fault, but it's still frustrating.
Other cool things:
You may remember the book 10 Little Rubber Ducks by Eric Carle. He was inspired by a story he read where plastic bath toys went overboard from a cargo ship at sea. Tracking Trash is about the real life situations were this has happened.