Sunday, 26 August 2007

Picture books and read-aloud books on evolution for younger children

I thought I’d post the results of my search for books on evolution for my own child, just starting Grade 1. I haven’t included anything in this list that seemed too technical or definitely for older children. I’ve also left books on Darwin, genetics and other related topics aside. I certainly haven’t read all these books, but I’ll post a review of the one I eventually chose in the comments section. If you’ve read any of these books, please feel free to do the same.

Here are the three picture books that tend to come up first in searches. They are probably the most obvious choices for this age group.
  • Life On Earth: the story of evolution; Steve Jenkins
  • Our Family Tree: an evolution story; Lisa Westberg Peters
  • The Tree of Life: the wonders of evolution; Ellen Jackson

And these two books, on the other hand, seem relatively obscure

  • How Life Began; Melvin Berger
  • Origins of Life; Linda Gamlin
Some authors cover cosmology and evolution either in a single book, or as a series. A few reviewers have noted the spiritual cast of the Morgan books, written from the point of view of a conscious, caring, universe. This reflects the author’s involvement in this organization, to which she donates some of the profits from her books. The Maddern set, listed in the section for the youngest children also covers the formation of the earth and the evolution of life.
  • Born with a Bang: the universe tells our cosmic story; Jennifer Morgan
  • From Lava to Life: the universe tells our earth story; Jennifer Morgan
  • Mammals who Morph: the universe tells our evolution story; Jennifer Morgan
  • Life Story; Virginia Lee Burton

A few books for this age group seem to approach evolution through specific species or groups or animals. It’s difficult to find out much about Shealy’s dinosaur book. The McNulty book on whales appears to be extremely well thought of.

  • Dinosaurs Alive: the dinosaur-bird connection; Dennis R. Shealy
  • How Whales Walked into the Sea; Faith McNulty
These authors below seem most likely to be suitable for the very youngest children. A review on complains that Harris is too simplistic for the early grades. On Amazon in the UK, the Harris and Maddern books are placed in the 0-2 age group category! The Cole book is the only one to have earned this distinction in the US, but reviewers seem to feel it will do well for early grades as well.
  • Earth Story and Life Story (2 books); Eric Maddern
  • The Story of Life on Earth; Nicholas Harris
  • Evolution: let's read and find out; Joanna Cole

Saturday, 4 August 2007

The Beagle Project

Humble at Free Range Academy has an update on the Beagle Project, who are planning to build a replica of Darwin's Beagle by 2009. Well worth checking out, and I daresay they would appreciate donations large or small. I was chatting with the crew of a similar ship just a fortnight ago, and they were telling me how infernally expensive the things are to build and run.