10 Living Books for Science

A list of 10 living books for science that we have enjoyed as a family - An Island Family By Grace

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This year we have started using Jay Wile’s General Science book, thanks to a generous giveaway from Claire of Angelic Scalliwags blog. (It is available in the UK from Conquest Books).However, we continue to read together other ‘living’ books on science and scientists, as we have done for the past few years.

Susan Schaeffer Macaulay says in her book For the Children’s Sake that a living book is “imaginative mind-food” for a child, that is “interesting, substantial material”, unlike the “twaddle” of some textbooks that Charlotte Mason referred to. I try to find books that will be enjoyable to read aloud together, or for the children to read on their own, that will fit these descriptions. Often I will see a recommendation on a homeschooling blog, in Homeschool Enrichment Magazine, or a friend will mention a book that has been really appreciated, and I will make a note of it.

Here are 10 living books for science that we have enjoyed:

  1. Michael Faraday: Father of Electronics, by Charles Ludwig paints Michael Faraday as a likeable character, and our children still talk about this book when something related comes up.
  2. Johannes Kepler: Giant of Faith and Science (Sowers), by John Tiner was really interesting for both me and the children, and we also own the books on Samuel Morse and Robert Boyle in the same series.
  3. The Fight Against Microbes: Pasteur’s Story (Science Stories), by C Birmingham is a hardback picture book which tells the story of why Louis Pasteur introduced pasteurisation.
  4. Sticky Jam: The Story of Sugar, by Meredith Hooper is another picture book, about a little boy in Australia who discovers how cane sugar is processed. My youngest two love this as it is a rhyming story.
  5. Peter’s Railway series, by Christopher Vine. These stories about Peter’s adventures on the railways (both miniature and real ones) with his Grandpa are fun and interesting, and also show how things work or are made. We have several of the smaller story books, and have given the larger hardback ones to a train-loving relative as presents.
  6. Wilbur and Orville Wright, Young Fliers, from the Childhood of Famous Americans series has been enjoyed by our 11 and 9 year olds. We also have the book on Benjamin Franklin from this series.
  7. Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, by Jean Lee Latham. Our son and oldest daughter enjoyed this book, which covers the science (and maths!) of navigation, and how he proved other scholars wrong.
  8. Ten Boys Who Used Their Talents, by Irene Howat. This selection of biographical stories includes some scientists- James Clerk Maxwell, Samuel Morse and George Washington Carver- along with non-scientists. We have also appreciated the other Ten Boys Who… and Ten Girls Who… books by Irene Howat.
  9. The Story Book of Science, by Jean Henri Fabre. This is our current read-aloud book, which we are all enjoying. It tells the story of Claire, Jules and Emile, who are staying with their Uncle Paul, although the real stories are actually the ones Uncle Paul tells them about the science of nature and how everyday items are made or work.
  10. Why Do Leaves Change Colour?, from the Let’s Read and Find Out Science series. This last book is maybe slightly more ‘twaddle-ish’ than the others, in that the facts about autumn and the science of leaf changes are only very thinly veiled in a story, but we have found it helpful, as with it’s spring counterpart How a Seed Grows.

Do you have any other recommendations for enjoyable science-related books? Please share them in a comment.

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18 Comments on “10 Living Books for Science

    • I agree Michele, it’s easier to see history books in that light. The biographies of Michael Faraday etc. could definitely be considered for both! Thanks for your comment 🙂

  1. Thank you for this-some really useful suggestions.

    My children love the Sticky Jam book too.

    Naxos do a CD about great inventors which we enjoy. It is surprising how many were home educated.

    The Jungle Doctor books have an amazing amount of interesting and rather dated medicine in them. It is a bit hair raising at times but they certainly sparked my interest in medicine.
    sarahelisabeth recently posted…Nature Study: PumpkinsMy Profile

    • Thank you Sarah, that is a really good point about the Jungle Doctor books- we have a few of them. Thanks also for the suggestion of the inventors CD, I think we would enjoy that.

  2. Great list and following on from a previous commentor – very important to see living books as broader than history. We used this idea to expose our kids to history, science, personal growth, business, art etc. Thanks for this list.
    Belinda recently posted…3 Acts of Courage for a TeenMy Profile

    • Thank you Belinda, I agree, and interesting to think of business also being something you can learn about through living books. Thanks for your comment:-)

    • Thank you Leah. Yes, I have only found most of these books through recommendations from others- you don’t tend to see these types of books publicised much.

    • You’re welcome Terri 🙂 Yes, reading these books is definitely a ‘pain free’ way to learn about science!

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