“Next time you see a sunset, stop and sit down for a while.”
So begins West Chester Twp. author Emily Morgan’s picture book, “Next Time You See a Sunset.” For some of her newest readers, however, that might become a bit problematic — they experience a sunset every 90 minutes.
An astronaut on the International Space Station will be recorded reading the book aloud this month as part of the Story Time from Space program. “Next Time You See a Sunset,” along with several other books, will be packed on board SpaceX-12, a rocket carrying supplies to the station, when it launches on Aug. 14.
“I’m just elated,” said Morgan, who will watch the rocket’s launch in Florida with her son and parents. “I can’t even believe it’s happening.”
The Story Time From Space program selects books that can be read aloud in less than 20 minutes, have plots that are related to science, and contain accurate information, according to the National Science Teachers Association, Morgan’s publisher.
Morgan’s book, part of an ongoing “Next Time You See” series, certainly fits those criteria. All of her stories “encourage kids to experience nature” and intentionally focus on subjects anyone could find just by walking out their front door.
“We forget that we’re on a big ball of rock that’s moving around a star,” Morgan said, referring to “Next Time You See a Sunset.” “If you think about that, you’ll see sunsets in a (different light).”
Picture book writing is just the latest stage of Morgan’s career as a science educator, which began in 1995. She began as a teacher at Northridge Local Schools in Dayton, and then moved to Mason Intermediate Elementary School. At Mason, Morgan and another teacher began writing science lessons centered around picture books.
They called the instructional books they produced “Picture-Perfect Science,” and eventually Morgan left her teaching job to focus on writing and teaching science workshops. “Next Time You See a Sunset,” one of Morgan’s first two books, was published in 2013, and she has written a total of eight books to date.
She goes to several schools each year to read her picture books to students, and is excited to take the video of an astronaut reading “Next Time You See a Sunset” with her on these visits after it is released in the fall.
“I hope listening to an astronaut read this book will help people watching the sunset on earth see it in a whole new way, ” Morgan said. “(I hope it helps them realize) that something ordinary that happens everyday is really quite extraordinary.”