(The Washington Post)

There is a lot of talk these days about how kids should be interested in science. That doesn’t mean you should find everything in science class exciting: You might be curious about outer space, while your friends may love bugs and dinosaurs. There’s an area of science for everyone, and these cool new books might inspire you to discover your inner scientist.

Scaly Spotted Feathered Frilled

by Catherine Thimmesh, 58 pages,
ages 9 to 12.

When you see a drawing or a model of a dinosaur, or watch one running around in the movies, do you wonder how anybody knows what they look like? After all, no one has seen a living dinosaur. This book explains how paleo-scientists and paleo-artists (“paleo” means “ancient”) work together to re-create dinosaurs. For 100 years, they have used fossils to help figure out muscles, skin and even expressions. As scientific discoveries have been made, the models have changed. (Deinonychus replicas once were scaly; now they have feathers.) Scientific tests may one day reveal what a dinosaur’s coloring was, but for now artists have to use their imagination to determine how these Jurassic giants looked.

Beyond the Solar System
by Mary Kay Carson, 128 pages, ages 10 to 13.

This book takes readers back to the beginnings of space exploration — thousands of years ago, when people began stargazing — and forward to today’s search for planets in distant parts of the Milky Way galaxy. Find out about superstars — Isaac Newton, for example — and lesser-known but important scientists such as astronomer Annie Jump Cannon. Along with history lessons, readers get 21 activities, such as making a black hole and creating a model of Albert Einstein’s universe using a T-shirt. The activities are perfect “boredom busters” for cold winter days.

Ultimate Bugopedia
by Darlyne Murawski and Nancy Honovich, 272 pages, age 7 and older.

If you’re always on the lookout for beetles and butterflies, this book is for you. Hundreds of color photos of common and unusual insects fill this hefty hardcover. There are fascinating stories related to the photos. For example, did you know that a moth called a Lobocraspis griseifusa feeds on the tears of Asian cattle? Have you heard of the tarantula hawk? It’s not a bird; it’s a wasp that preys on the hairy spiders. There’s a question-and-answer section with an entomologist (that’s an insect scientist) and advice on how to help preserve insects that are endangered.

Journey Into the Invisible
by Christine Schlitt, 80 pages,
ages 9 to 12.

If you have used a magnifying glass, you know that a speck of dust or a leaf looks a lot different when it’s magnified. The author of this book explains what microscopes do and then shows what happens to things around the house when looked at with this amazing scientific tool. A salt crystal magnified 30 times looks like a super-modern apartment building. The bacteria that live in your mouth, when magnified 20,000 times, look a bit like swimming pool noodles. Fascinating photos are paired with suggestions about how you can learn a lot about the world around you, just by looking a little closer.

Christina Barron