Today we welcome author Cynthia Argentine to the blog to share how STEM titles, like her new book Night Becomes Day: Changes in Nature, can inspire students and encourage creative connections. We also have a video featuring Cynthia and a brand new FREE Teaching Guide!
How do you inspire awe, curiosity, and creativity at the same time? STEM topics provide a pathway to these inspirations. The science of transformation is an example—so many things in the natural world are turning into something else. The magical quality of these transformations inspired me to write Night Becomes Day: Changes in Nature.
Earlier this month, I had two wonderful opportunities to read Night Becomes Day to children. The first was a “book birthday party” at my local public library. I partnered with our town’s nature center, and we had hands-on stations involving rocks, fruits, amphibians, and crystals, all of which change over time.
Before the kids visited the stations, I read them Night Becomes Day and asked what their favorite part was. Their answers blew me away. The first child to raise his hand said, “I like the way flower becomes fruit at the beginning, and fruit becomes a flower at the end. We’re learning about cycles in science class, and this helps me see that.” WOW! I had chosen to structure the book around cycles, and it was a thrill to see this student notice and enjoy that aspect of the book. Plus, he connected the content to what he was learning in school. Fantastic!
The second event, a few days later, was for preschoolers and their families. We met at a local park, and I read a page-spread at a time as we walked along a trail by a meadow. Opposites are another theme in the book, and this time I turned the reading into an opposites game.
The first change in the book is a “small” one—a footprint disappearing on the shore. “What is the opposite of small?” I asked.
“BIG!” they shouted in response. I pointed to the facing page and read about a BIG change—the formation of the Grand Canyon. Next came a quick change.
“What’s the opposite of quick?” I asked.
“Can you think of a slow change?” I asked. I listened to their answers, and we turned the page to discover an acorn turning into a giant oak. It was a special privilege to interact with kids of many ages and see them engage with the book’s structure, photographs, and text.
Like most books, Night Becomes Day may be read on several levels. On the surface, it’s about ways that nature is changing. On a middle level, it shows that science is a way to learn about nature. The back matter carries this further, connecting each change to specific branches of science (biology, geology, chemistry, physics). On a deeper level, readers may discover that learning about science and nature makes them more curious and creative. Perhaps their curiosity will lead them to notice something new and study it further. Or maybe a creative impulse will lead them to draw, photograph, or write a poem about something scientific that fascinates them. Those experiences, in turn, may lead them to feel awe, confidence, compassion, and wonder. That is a pathway we can encourage all children to explore.
Free Teacher Resources
Download a glossary and a brand new teaching guide created by Deb Gonzales. Deb is a career educator, curriculum consultant, former school administrator, and adjunct professor, and once served as an SCBWI RA for the Austin Chapter. Deb earned her MFA in writing for children and young adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She had created over 300 guides for readers of all ages and genres.
Both documents can also be found on the Lerner website.
Share this Video with Your Students
Praise for Night Becomes Day
“A catalyst for conversations about change.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Cynthia gently invites readers to think about change, and leads them to notice the changes that are taking place in the world around them.” – Archimedes Notebook
“Simply amazing.” – Growing with Science
“This lovely book is deceptively simple but packs a hefty scientific punch and is sure to be one kids and teachers reach for again and again!” – Tanya Konerman
“I believe it’s important because we grow through change. Growth itself is the essence of change.” – On Tea and Mermaids
“Noticing the spring transformations happening right outside my window, I started listing them. I thought about how familiar some changes were and how surprising others could be.” – Susanna Hill
“I wanted to create a book that displayed a whole array of changes—those involving plants, water, land, and sky.” – The Backstory
Connect with the Author
Find more from our authors and illustrators here!