Teaching Earth Science with Children’s Literature: The Sun: Our Nearest Star

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The Sun: Our Nearest Star, written by Franklyn M. Branley and illustrated by Edward Miller does a wonderful job of explaining our daytime star, the sun.  The book includes a beautifully illustrated analogy of the size of the sun compared to the size of the earth as a beach ball compared to a pea.  The book explains how far away the sun is by how long it would take a space ship to travel to the sun compared to the moon and how long it takes light to reach the earth from the sun compared to the light from the other stars.

We learn from the book, that “without the sun,  earth would be cold and dark.  No Plants would grow, no animals, no bugs, birds or flowers.  Nothing could live here.  The sun keeps us alive.”  There is an introduction to solar energy and then we are left with the fact that the sun has warmed our planet for millions of years and will continue to for many more millions of years.

The book is filled with vibrant illustrations that help to the relay the scientific concepts presented by Branley and includes two activities to help students find out more about the sun.

Curriculum Connections
The Sun: Our Nearest Star
would be great to use as an introduction to the solar system.  It could be used in the early grades to teach about the relationships between the sun and the earth and the role of the sun in providing energy and light to warm the land, air and water.  (Va SOL 1.6a) With older students this book could be used to introduce the sun as an important source of solar energy and renewable energy.  (VA SOL 3.11a,b)

Additional Resources

  • Lesson Plan: The Sun: Our Local Star includes a reading comprehension passage and questions.
  • The Sun  is an interactive website that includes links to vocabulary, a song about the sun and a question from the information provided.
  • Star Stuff First Grade  is a collection of lesson plans related to the Virginia SOLs.
  • Tour the Planets card game.

Book: The Sun: Our Nearest Star
Author: Franklyn Branley
Illustrator: Edward Miller
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: 2002
Pages:  25
Grade Range: K – 3
ISBN: 9780060285340