BOOKS WE'RE READING: Evolution + Fantastic Beasts
Science and technology have advanced considerably since I was a child, as have childrens books. So many topics would only have been covered in National Geographic magazines, or encyclopedias, never to my knowledge in books for kids. I must admit, I find the topic of evolution wild! So please join us as we journey through time and across the world to explore the extraordinary topic of evolution and fantastic (and forgotten) beasts. The books below highlight some of the best child-friendly titles, many of which are appropriately modern (such a stark contrast with the dusty tomes of yesteryear). I do hope you enjoy this months' recommended titles.
'The Pebble in my Pocket', by Meredith Hooper + Chris Coady
This book follows the story of a little pebble as it evolves over the millenia, travelling through various eras, meeting various beasts along the way. Regrettably, I remember being a little bored of geology when forced to study it in Geography as a teenager. Thankfully, I know that children are far more appreciate of such facts and see them for what they are; truly marvellous happenings. This little book is part geology, history, and anthropology, and gives us the beautiful line, "pick up a pebble and you are holding a little piece of the history of our planet'. Just beautiful.
'The Story of Life', by Catherine Barr, Steve Williams + Amy Husband
I've written about this series before. It's just so GOOD! These are favourites in our house and for very good reason. This book packs an impressive amount of information into bite-sized tidbits, perfect for children. It also encourages young minds, through the study of evolution, to understand just how precious life on earth is and how necessary it is to protect it. Highly recommend!
'The Story of Life: Evolution', by Katie Scott
OK, so this might not seem as though it's designed for young children; words like 'Precambrian' and 'prokaryotes' might convince you of this. But, save for the 'big' words, this is written in very simple language and is easy to follow. It's not a bedtime story for sure. However, should you find yourself with a curious child eager to learn more (or you yourself), this will provide a very useful and beautiful addition to your home library. It covers the different eras (Mezonic, Cretaceous etc.) as well as different animal species, insects and plants. It truly is a fascinating and in-depth look at our worlds' evolution, and I can't rate it highly enough should your learning lend itself to this particular field of study.
'Darwin's Voyage of Discovery', by Jake Williams
Adventure abounds for Darwin and his crew as they embark on a journey around the world. This book brings together plenty of interesting facts as well as a good amount of biographical information about Charles Darwin's life in a child-friendly storytelling tone. It includes a few maps of the voyage, different species discovered, scientific theories developed, as well as his legacy.
'Charles Darwin On the Origin of Species', by Sabina Radeva
Child-friendly and full of colour, what I love about this is the way Darwin's original work has been adapted for children to discover it a fresh, modern way. It delves into Darwin's theory of Natural Selection in an accessible manner, explaining common misconceptions about evolution along the way. And the illustrations are fabulous! Is fantastic on it's own, but also provides a great accompaniment to the title listed above.
'Really Remarkable Reptiles', by Jake Williams
I come from a country famous for having dangerous reptiles so you'll forgive me if I'm not their greatest fan. Having said that, I fully appreciate just how interesting and diverse they are, not to mention the ancient history of many species. This book is a lovely collection of various species and includes a helpful section on conservation. It's bright and colourful and has just enough scary facts to excite children without giving them nightmares. My son loves it!
'Forgotten Beasts', by Matt Sewell
When we think of evolution, it is also necessary to explore animal extinction, whether that be due to environmental catastrophes, or human negligence. This book presents us with a great collection of extinct animals, some weird and wonderful, others rather terrifying (think giant sharks!). And I also discovered that Dire Wolves used to actually exist outside of Game of Thrones.
'Lots: The Diversity of Life on Earth', by Nicola Davies + Emily Sutton
This is one of those fantastic childrens books that celebrates the beauty of the natural world, the interconnectedness of all livings things and plants, and also opens up discussions surrounding environmental protection. It really is a joy to read and soak up the vibrant illustrations.
If you have any questions about any of these books, please feel free to ask me in the comments. If you're interested in reading more, please take a lot at previous entries here.