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Encouraging children’s wonder with “Ada and the Galaxies”

MIT’s Alan Lightman co-authors the first title from MIT Kids Press, a new imprint from the MIT Press and Candlewick Press.
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At left, the book cover for "Ada and the Galaxies," which features a young girl on a starry background, surrounded by objects from nature like a feather, shell, seaweed, etc. At right, a portrait photo of Alan Lightman
The picture book “Ada and the Galaxies” is inspired by MIT professor of the practice Alan Lightman’s desire to encourage kids’ interest in the world around them.

MIT Kids Press — a first-of-its-kind collaboration between a university press, the MIT Press, and a children’s publisher, Candlewick Press — publishes today its inaugural title, “Ada and the Galaxies.” A picture book by professor of the practice of the humanities Alan Lightman and Olga Pastuchiv, and illustrated by Susanna Chapman, it’s inspired by Lightman’s desire to encourage kids’ native interest in the world around them.

Lightman says of the book: “Children have an instinctive curiosity about the natural world, but that fascination is often stifled by our regimented and fast-paced lifestyle, and our manufactured environment of concrete and steel. I hope that 'Ada and the Galaxies,' and other books like it, will help rekindle the fresh awe of gazing up at the starry night sky, or holding a spiraling seashell in your hand, or listening to the haunting call of a loon. Also, the feeling of connection to nature. We are all part of something larger than ourselves.”

In starred pre-publication reviews, Publishers Weekly noted the book’s “night skies that glitter and seawater that sparkles,” while Kirkus Reviews wrote that “young readers will delight in seeing our universe’s interconnectedness, and, later, when Ada’s family dashes outside to spin in starlight, they will recognize the inextricable bonds among loved ones.”

The MIT Press Bookstore, which will reopen its doors later this month at its new location at 314 Main Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts, will have copies of “Ada and the Galaxies” available for sale in the children’s section. On Sept. 18, MIT Kids Press will collaborate with MIT Open Space Programming and MIT’s Office of Government and Community Relations on a family event celebrating the book. Free and open to the public, the event will take place in the new Kendall/MIT Open Space, next to the Kendall/MIT T stop. For more details, visit:

Going forward, MIT Kids Press and its sister press for older readers, MITeen Press, will continue to publish lively, fascinating, and far-reaching writing on STEAM topics for young people, offering ambitious and engaging books for the next generations of budding thinkers, designers, scientists, leaders, and inventors. The next book from MITeen Press is “Become an App Inventor: The Official Guide from MIT App Inventor, Your Guide to Designing, Building, and Sharing Apps,” due out in February 2022.

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