Sharing science through books

Publication Date

Melissa Stewart '90

MAJOR: Biological Sciences
CURRENT POSITION: Science writer

One hundred ninety one. That’s how many science books Melissa Stewart has written. Yep, 191.

On everything from monkeys and chocolate to space, seeds, robots and the human body. For everyone from toddlers to teachers.

Melissa Stewart '90

Why? She cares and she can’t stop. She’s fueled by a need to share science. To help people of all ages understand how ears hear, why T. rex’s arms were so short, and how amazing spit is.

Not surprisingly, Stewart was a biology major at Union. It was a fateful choice, one that brought her to Professor Karen Williams.

When Stewart was writing her senior thesis on sequencing fruit fly DNA, Williams showed Stewart a related article in Discover magazine. Williams told Stewart she could have written it.

“She saw this talent in me that I didn’t know I had,” said Stewart, who earned a master’s in science journalism from New York University. “If she hadn’t taken the time, who knows what I’d be doing now. I might have a job that I hate.”

But she has a job she loves, and she’s dedicated to promoting the value not just of science, but of nonfiction writing and its use in classrooms.

Book cover of "A Seed is the Start" by Melissa Stewart '90

“I have a theory that there are two kinds of thinkers when it comes to reading. Narrative thinkers have a natural love of stories and storytelling. Analytical thinkers prefer expository writing that describes, explains or informs,” Stewart said. “In a recent article for the Public Library of Science (PLOS), I brought awareness to the idea that at least some of the kids who are labeled reluctant readers really aren’t. They just haven’t found the right gateway to literacy yet because they don’t connect with narrative writing. To fall in love with reading, they need access to a diverse array of nonfiction books.”

“I’m trying to foster the development of kids who will love science, engineering, math and technology for their whole lives,” she continued.

“Science is more critical than ever. If we can get children—our leaders of tomorrow—to love, respect and trust science, we’ll be doing a lot of good for the future.”

Stewart’s latest book, A Seed is the Start, published by National Geographic.


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