NEW YORK — Kids are natural adventurers. From turning over rocks looking for lizards to looking up at the stars and wondering about aliens, children make exploration a natural part of growing up. "Explorer Academy," a new seven-book book series from National Geographic, combines real-life science and exploration with fiction to captivate young audiences looking for adventure.
The first book of the series, "Explorer Academy: The Nebula Secret," which was released Tuesday (Sept. 4), introduces young readers to 12-year-old protagonist Cruz Coronado and dives quickly into heart-pounding, science-positive exploits.
While National Geographic publishes primarily nonfiction, the company hopes that the fictional series gets kids excited about real-world exploration and science. [8 Cool Destinations That Future Mars Tourists Could Explore]
"We want to use whatever attracts kids to connect them to the real world based on real science, real society, real culture," Jennifer Emmett, vice president for content in the Kids and Family division at National Geographic, told USA Today.
Author Trudi Trueit is using the adventures of real-life National Geographic explorers to inspire the series. In fact, in this first book, she draws inspiration from the incredible adventures of Zoltan Takacs, a National Geographic explorer and pharmacologist who wrangles venomous snakes to develop and create lifesaving medical treatments.
"Every explorer, whatever their field of science is, they're committed and passionate," Trueit told Space.com at the "Explorer Academy Recruitment Center," an immersive, interactive event held here on Tuesday that celebrated the release of the book." You can see that they want to make a difference, and that's inspiring to me."
Trueit said she hopes that the series not only gets young readers excited about science and exploration. but also drives kids to get involved in helping others and the planet.
"There's a lot of things kids can do now that can change their world and ours in small ways," Trueit said. "Changing out the light bulbs or taking a shorter shower or cleaning up the local park. Those are things that make a difference, and you don't need to be Zoltan and wrangle snakes to make a difference in the world."
But, of course, "I just want them to have a great time reading," Trueit said.