Science for babies, toddlers & kids: a reflection by Thomai Dion, writer of the Think-A-Lot-Tots books
Thomai Dion, who calls herself pharmacist, mom, author, artist and science communicator, believes it is never too early to start learning. Therefore she created the “Think-A-Lot-Tots” collection of educational children’s science books. Here she shares some reflections on her project.
[The title Animal Cell is reviewed here.]
It is within some of the most unanticipated moments and places that we find ourselves creating something that truly inspires us. My “Think-A-Lot-Tots” science book collection for babies and children was not a project I envisioned writing prior to becoming a mother. These books are instead a direct result of my child’s curiosity combined with my own drive to teach him about the world around us. It was an unanticipated yet wonderfully exciting task to challenge myself with and one that I am so proud and thankful to have started.
To watch a child explore their surroundings is a fantastic thing to witness; everything is being learned for the first time. Everything is new. One’s own backyard contains an infinite amount of teachable moments such as why is the sky blue? Why do leaves fall from trees? How do birds fly? To see that natural curiosity bubble over as a beautifully relentless string of “Why’s” and “How’s” was an inspiration for me to continue sparking that love of learning within my own child. And so one day while playing together on our living room floor, I decided I would take those teachable moments one step further and talk about the thousands of fascinating aspects within our world that are not readily visible such as, for example, cells and microorganisms.
I am a pharmacist by trade who has always loved both art and science. My medical background combined with my little one’s curiosity eventually resulted in the decision to write and illustrate my own children’s science book series. It was a decision based on not only a want to teach, but also a result of what I found to unfortunately be a lack of material available promoting S.T.E.M. education for very young children. Many of the books surrounding topics such as biology and chemistry that are currently available are geared towards older children beyond primary school. It is perhaps thought that subjects such as these must be reserved for certain ages beyond 10-years-old as well as presented only within a school setting. I would argue that neither of these ideas is true nor are they necessary as my toddler and I have talked about electrons, bacteria and neurons together, to name a few. He has even proudly exclaimed, “mitochondria!” to which I could not have been more thrilled about.
My books do not strive to make an expert of the reader; rather, their goal is to introduce science-focused topics and build upon scientific vocabulary. “Nucleus” is no different than “ball” in terms of developing familiarity with a word. As I’ve stated within all of my books, answered to others that have inquired, and have proven time and time again with my child, there is truly no concept too advanced or abstract for tots who think a lot. I hope you and your family enjoy my books and have fun learning together.
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