Plants and photosynthetic bacteria sustain much of life on Earth. They form the base of food chains both on land and in the ocean, and they produce the oxygen we breathe. Indeed, when the first photosynthetic algae arose some 3 billion years ago, they fundamentally changed our planet — breathing oxygen into the atmosphere and paving the way for life as we know it today.

While photosynthesis is typically covered in elementary and high school science classes, studies have shown that even the most fundamental facts are often forgotten quickly. In contrast, the books we read as children sometimes stay with us for a lifetime.

Molly Bang is an award-winning children’s author and illustrator. Penny Chisholm is Lee and Geraldine Martin Professor of Environmental Studies at M.I.T. Together, they’ve written and illustrated a series of children’s books about photosynthesis. Their book "Living Sunlight" received a 2010 Prize for Excellence in Science Books from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. And the third book in the series, "Ocean Sunlight," was published earlier this year.

To learn more about Molly, Penny and their Sunlight Series: