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The Best Periodic Table Books and Flash Cards

One of the fun things about being out of school is getting to choose what you want to learn about. Take science, for instance. Being forced to memorize the periodic table wasn’t easy, but with Theodore Gray’s beautiful book about all 118 elements, learning about what everything is made of has never been so much fun. Or so colorful! There are never-before-seen photographic representations of each element, depictions that are visible to the naked eye.


Theodore Gray’s Periodic Table Books: The Elements Trilogy


The Best Periodic Table Flashcards, Puzzles, Notecards, and More

On top of the worldwide best-selling book, there are several more wonderful items that make great gifts for fans of The Elements, or anyone who enjoys bright colors, science, and learning. Atom to your list! (Sorry not sorry.)


Theodore Gray’s Periodic Table Books for Kids


About Theodore Gray

Theodore Gray is the author of The Elements, Molecules, and Reactions, as well as Theodore Gray’s Completely Mad Science. He is the creator of the bestselling iPad apps “Elements” and “Molecules,” which have both been named “App of the Week” by Apple and was Director of “Disney Animated” (also honored by Apple as “iPad App of the Year”). Gray appeared on stage with Steve Jobs several times in his capacity as a software creator. He also co-founded Wolfram Research, Inc., makers of the widely-used software Mathematica and the Wolfram Alpha website. He lives in Urbana, Illinois.


About Nick Mann

Nick Mann is the photographer of The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe and many more of Theodore Gray’s books and kits. Aside from having photographed more elements and compounds than probably anyone in the world, he is an accomplished landscape, sports, and event photographer. He lives in Urbana, Illinois.


Liberty Hardy is a Book Riot senior contributing editor, co-host of All the Books, a Book of the Month judge, and above all else, a ravenous reader. She resides in Maine with her cats, Millay, Farrokh, and Zevon. You can see pictures of her cats and book hauls on Twitter @MissLiberty and Instagram @franzencomesalive.

7 Adorable Animals That Are Also Evolutionary Weirdos

In Consider the Platypus, science journalist and comedy writer, Maggie Ryan Sandford, explores the weird, complicated history of evolution through some of the strangest animals on earth (and a few animals you didn’t know were strange!).

Here’s a list of the top cutest, and why they’re weird:


1) Axolotl

Over 65 million years ago, axolotls split from the lineage of the giant salamander and the extremely freaky Mexican mole lizard. Axolotls are their cute, millennial pink cousins who can regenerate their tails, limbs, and lens of their eyes!


2) Bonobo

Bonobos are tied with chimpanzees as our closest cousins (sharing 99.6% of our DNA), which is honestly a huge compliment considering how adorable they are. Compared to chimps, bonobos are more socially intelligent, more cooperative, and have a more human body shape. 


3) Manatee

Manatees have highly sensitive whiskers and a cetacean body shape that is similar to whales, dolphins, and porpoises (even though they come from very different lineages). Manatees are way less hydrodynamic, but their curves make them cuter.


4) Nine-Banded Armadillo

The armadillo shares an ancient ancestor with the two-toed sloth! Unlike the sloth, the armadillo has evolved to walk on the tip of its claws, protect itself with a hard, scaly shell, and lose its baby teeth. 


5) Hoffman’s Two-Toed Sloth

Lazy, tree-loving sloths are surprisingly good swimmers! They also have “extra” neck, meaning that three-toed sloths have evolved to have more neck vertebrae than other sloth species (and most other mammals!).


6) Galapagos Turtle

Darwin’s famous favs are considered “giant” today, but their prehistoric predecessors were actually giant, growing to nearly 10 feet in length in some cases. If you really wanna freak out about giant turtles, look up the extinct marine turtle, the Archelon.


7) African Elephant

Elephants have evolved to have the largest brain of any living land mammal. Size doesn’t say it all, but elephants show signs of acute intelligence through play, learning, memory, and problem solving. Like bonobos, they can even recognize themselves in the mirror.

You can read more about these, and more evolutionary weirdos, in Maggie Ryan Sandford’s book Consider the Platypus: Evolution through Biology’s Most Baffling Beasts

Barb Rosenstock

Barb Rosenstock photo

Dive into History with Otis & Will Discover the Deep


“How come you write about famous people?” asked a third grader.


There I stood at another school visit stumped by a young person asking a question I’ve heard over and over again. You’d think that by now, since I write picture book biographies, I’d have a handy answer. But each time, that “fame question” throws me. I guess it’s because I don’t choose my subjects because they’re famous.


Instead, I’m drawn to stories about people who’ve changed history. For me, history has never made sense as a series of facts or dates (which I still rarely remember!). Instead, I tend to agree with the quote attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, “There is properly no history, only biography.” In my books, I try to show students that history, whether in science, politics, or the arts, is made by regular people. People who pursued a dream or a skill in a deep way—not because someone forced them, not because they wanted to be popular; but usually just because they were curious and liked the work. In other words, the young Abraham Lincoln didn’t know he was gonna be ABRAHAM LINCOLN. He was just Abe, that tall kid; the one who loved to read and made friends easily.


This view of history holds true for my new book, Otis & Will Discover the Deep: The Record-setting Dive of the Bathysphere, illustrated by Katherine Roy. It’s the story of how mechanical engineer, Otis Barton, and natural scientist, William Beebe, worked together to create the bathysphere—the first submersible craft that took human beings into the deep ocean.


William Beebe is well-known in scientific circles, but hardly a household name; and Otis Barton’s name is kind of off-the-grid all together. I didn’t know about either man ahead of writing the book. Instead, a few years ago, I read a small news item that used the word “bathysphere,” which I’d never heard, and became fascinated with the men who built it. I learned that Otis Barton started as a curious kid who built homemade diving equipment to see deeper into the ocean. And Will Beebe was so in love with nature’s mysteries that once he dove into the ocean for the first time, he never studied anything else.


Early on in the research of Barton and Beebe’s amazing adventures, the universe cooperated. My generic request to the Library of Congress website happened to be answered by a librarian, Constance Carter, who’d been Beebe’s assistant in the 1950’s. Photos, film, diaries, and archives were uncovered. There were historical accounts of at least nineteen bathysphere dives over four years. The challenge became how to winnow that much information into one picture book story. I decided to concentrate on a single bathysphere dive in June, 1930—the first time Otis and Will saw the deep ocean they’d dreamed of visiting since they were kids.


These childhood dreams drove Otis and Will to great discoveries. To satisfy their own questions, they struggled with scientific and mechanical problems. Most impressively, they put their lives on the line over and over again. Otis and Will became the first to see what lived below the ocean’s light level, or as the book’s refrain puts it, down, down, into the deep.


So, are Otis and Will famous? Well, none of the Kardashians have to worry that Otis Barton or Will Beebe will ever have more Instagram followers. At least not yet. But I hope you will agree that Otis and Will are better than famous; they are important.


And from now on that’ll be my answer. I don’t write about “famous people.” I write about “important people.” Why? Because each child is important and deserves role models with the same questions, curiosities, and feelings. Because each student is history’s future.