Using Children’s Nonfiction Trade Books to Address Scientific Misconceptions

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Accurate teaching of scientific concepts should be taught at an early age. However, explicit science instruction is often neglected in elementary school. Because it is difficult to correct scientific misconceptions in young children, teachers may shy away from teaching concepts that require abstract, higher-order thinking skills. Alternatively, some teachers may feel they lack the content knowledge to accurately teach the scientific concepts. State mandates and related research assert that high-quality, above-level picture books should be used to build students’ interest in and engagement with scientific concepts. Through interactive read alouds, stimulating student-to-teacher conversations, and rich and engaging educational experiences, authentic scientific learning will take place. This study used a constructivist approach to explore the effect of nonfiction science trade books on kindergarten students’ abilities to argue using evidence and to correct misconceptions held about natural phenomena. The three major findings included: understanding how prior knowledge affects comprehension; that inquiry-guided learning motivates students to seek answers; and that scientific misconceptions held by children can be corrected by reading and discussing children’s nonfiction trade books.