Steve and Susan Zumdahl’s texts focus on helping students build critical thinking skills through the process of becoming independent problem-solvers. They help students learn to ‘think like a chemists’ so they can apply the problem solving process to all aspects of their lives. In “Chemistry: An Atoms First Approach, 1st edition, International Edition” the Zumdahls use a meaningful approach that begins with the atom and proceeds through the concept of molecules, structure, and bonding, to more complex materials and their properties. Because this approach differs from what most students have experienced in high school courses, it encourages them to focus on conceptual learning early in the course, rather than relying on memorization and a ‘plug and chug’ method of problem solving that even the best students can fall back on when confronted with familiar material. The atoms first organization provides an opportunity for students to use the tools of critical thinkers: to ask questions, and to apply rules and models.