Out of School and Into Nature: The Anna Comstock Story

“Nature study cultivates in the child a love of the beautiful.”

From the time she was a young girl, Anna Comstock was fascinated by the natural world. She loved exploring outdoors, examining wildlife and learning nature’s secrets. From watching the teamwork of marching ants to following the constellations in the sky, Anna observed it all. And her interest only increased as she grew older and went to college at Cornell University. There she continued her studies, pushing back against those social conventions that implied science was a man’s pursuit. Eventually Anna became known as a nature expert, pioneering a movement to encourage schools to conduct science and nature classes for children outdoors, thereby increasing students’ interest in nature. In following her passion, this remarkable woman blazed a trail for female scientists today.

Innovation, Leadership, and Perseverance

Nonfiction

AR Reading Level 3.9

AR Point .5

Word Count 689

Pocket Full of Colors: The Magical World of Mary Blair, Disney Artist Extraordinaire

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Mary Blair lived her life in color: vivid, wild color.

From her imaginative childhood to her career as an illustrator, designer, and animator for Walt Disney Studios, Mary’s ideas were considered too abstract and too colorful. At a time when studios wanted to hire men and think in black and white, Mary painted twinkling emerald skies, peach giraffes with tangerine spots, and magenta horses that could fly.

She painted her world.

Creativity, Innovation, Perseverance

Nonfiction

AR Reading Level 4.3

AR Point .5

Word Count 808

Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay

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Ada Ríos grew up in Cateura, a small town in Paraguay built on a landfill. She dreamed of playing the violin, but with little money for anything but the bare essentials, it was never an option…until a music teacher named Favio Chávez arrived. He wanted to give the children of Cateura something special, so he made them instruments out of materials found in the trash. It was a crazy idea, but one that would leave Ada—and her town—forever changed. Now, the Recycled Orchestra plays venues around the world, spreading their message of hope and innovation.

Critical Thinking-Problem Solving, Innovation, Perseverance

Nonfiction

AR Reading Level 4.6

AR Point .5

Word Count 1297

Snowflake Bentley

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From the time he was a small boy in Vermont, Wilson Bentley saw snowflakes as small miracles. And he determined that one day his camera would capture for others the wonder of the tiny crystal. Bentley’s enthusiasm for photographing snowflakes was often misunderstood in his time, but his patience and determination revealed two important truths: no two snowflakes are alike; and each one is startlingly beautiful. His story is gracefully told and brought to life in lovely woodcuts, giving children insight into a soul who had not only a scientist’s vision and perseverance but a clear passion for the wonders of nature.

Innovation, Leadership, Optimism, Patience, and Perseverance

Nonfiction

AR Reading Level 4.4

AR Point .5

Word Count 979

Margaret and the Moon: How Margaret Hamilton Saved the First Lunar Landing

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Margaret Hamilton loved numbers as a young girl. She knew how many miles it was to the moon (and how many back). She loved studying algebra and geometry and calculus and using math to solve problems in the outside world.

Soon math led her to MIT and then to helping NASA put a man on the moon! She hand wrote code that would allow the spacecraft’s computer to solve any problems it might encounter. Apollo 8. Apollo 9. Apollo 10. Apollo 11. Without her code, none of those missions could have been completed.

Critical Thinking-Problem Solving, Responsibility, Initiative, Innovation, Leadership

Nonfiction

AR Reading Level 3.7

AR Point .5

Word Count 722

Sky High: George Ferris’s Big Wheel

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This fascinating story describes the invention of the first Ferris wheel—an engineering marvel. The 1893 World’s Fair organizers wanted something big to draw people to Chicago . . . something that would rival the Eiffel Tower. George Ferris, an American engineer, had the idea for an observation wheel that passengers could ride on. People disagreed! They said it would never work. But it was a huge success, with thirty-six cars that could hold over 2,100 riders! That’s some big wheel! Ferris wheel lovers can thank George Ferris for never giving up his dream.

Critical Thinking-Problem Solving, Creativity, Initiative, Innovation

Nonfiction

AR Reading Level 3.0

AR Point .5

Word Count 761

Saving the Liberty Bell

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Some tall tales are actually true. This is a grand one, told with rightful pride by a boy who was there in the city of Philadelphia in 1777 and was lucky enough to play a role in the American Revolution.
John Jacob Mickley, eleven years old, and his father were in the city when the Great Bell began ringing Brong! Brong! BRONG! from atop the State House to warn the citizens: “Redcoats! The Redcoats are coming!”
And come the British did — with their muskets and their cannons and their will to keep the colonies for their king. Looting they came and stealing any metal they could get their hands on to melt down for the making of more weapons. And the prize above all? The Great Bell itself — metal for many a cannon!
But these clever Patriots had other plans for keeping the Bell safe from the British.

 

Critical Thinking-Problem Solving, Initiative, Perseverance, Responsibility, Teamwork

Fiction

AR Reading Level 4.0

AR Point .5

Word Count 1660

George Washington and the General’s Dog

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Boom! Bang! Guns fire! Cannons roar! George Washington is fighting in the American Revolution. He sees a dog lost on the battlefield. Whose dog is it? How will it find its master? Early readers will be surprised to find out what happens in this little-known true story about America’s first president.

Empathy, Fairness, Kindness, Leadership, Responsibility, Trustworthiness

Nonfiction

AR Reading Level 2.5

AR Point .5

Word Count 719

Alexander Hamilton: From Orphan to Founding Father

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Did you know that one of our Founding Fathers was not born in America? An orphan from the West Indies, Alexander Hamilton came to the colonies and played an important role in the Revolutionary War, rising to become General George Washington’s right-hand man. But his accomplishments don’t stop there! He helped obtain the ratification of the Constitution; he was America’s first secretary of the treasury; and he established the first national bank and the U.S. Mint. A man of ambition, loyalty, and principle, he is now being celebrated as the prominent patriot he was.

 

Courage, Initiative, Leadership, Responsibility, Teamwork, Trustworthiness

Nonfiction

AR Reading Level 3.7

AR Point .5

Word Count 996