Great Children’s Books Celebrating Science
Finding magic in reality and our shared stardustness.
By Maria Popova
After my annual omnibus of the year’s finest children’s books, a number of friends have requested recommendations for intelligent and imaginative children’s books celebrating science. So I’ve put together this evolving reading list of favorites from the past century — please enjoy:
The Blue Whale: A Loving Science Lullaby for Our Planet’s Largest-Hearted Creature
An affectionate tour of an alternate universe right here on earth, where it’s possible to grow by nine pounds an hour and never sleep.
Beloved British Artist Ralph Steadman Illustrates the Life of Leonardo da Vinci
A visual “autobiography” of the legendary polymath that grants equal dignity to the grit and the glory.
Does My Goldfish Know Who I Am? Scientists and Writers Answer Little Kids’ Big Questions about How Life Works
Why we cry, how we know we aren’t dreaming right now, where the universe ends, what books are for, and more answers to deceptively simple yet profound questions.
You Are Stardust: Teaching Kids About the Universe in Stunning Illustrated Dioramas
“Every tiny atom in your body came from a star that exploded long before you were born.”
Alice in Quantumland: A Charming Illustrated Allegory of Quantum Mechanics by a CERN Physicist
Down the rabbit hole of antimatter, or how to believe six impossible things about gender stereotypes before breakfast.
Scientists and Philosophers Answer Kids’ Most Pressing Questions About How the World Works
Why we fall in love, what we’re all made of, how dreams work, and more deceptively simple mysteries of living.
How Jane Goodall Turned Her Childhood Dream into Reality: A Sweet Illustrated Story of Purpose and Deep Determination
A heartening testament to the power of undivided intention.
Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space: Imaginative and Illuminating Children’s Book Tickles Our Zest for the Cosmos
Rocket fuel for the souls of budding Sagans.
Evolution: A Coloring Book
A die-cut history of how the dinosaurs became birds and humans rose from the sea.
Maria Merian’s Butterflies: The Illustrated Story of How a 17th-Century Woman Forever Changed the Course of Science Through Art
A heartening homage to a courageous woman who fought superstition with science and love.
Parrots Over Puerto Rico: An Illustrated Children’s Book Celebrating the Spirit of Conservation
The heartening story of one of Earth’s most beautiful bird species, an underdog of geopolitics and evolution.
Blast Off: Visionary Vintage Children’s Book Celebrates Gender Equality, Ethnic Diversity, and Space Exploration
“The blackness of space was dotted with stars.”
Weight and Weightlessness: The Science of Life in Space, in Charming Vintage Illustrations
An impossibly lovely primer on how gravity works and why we don’t fall to the center of the earth daily.
The Illustrated Story of Persian Polymath Ibn Sina and How He Shaped the Course of Medicine
How a voraciously curious little boy became one of the world’s greatest healers.
Just a Second: An Illustrated Visualization of What Happens on Earth in a Single Second
What a whale’s song has to do with the Helios II satellite and the beat of the pigmy shrew’s heart.
The Magic of Reality: Richard Dawkins Teaches Children to Fight Myth with Science
What Scandinavian folklore has to do with DNA, or how to myth-bust creationism with the poetry of science.
Wild Ideas: The Creative Problem-Solving Strategies of Different Animals, in Illustrated Dioramas
From procrastinating pigeons to counting bears to dung beetles that navigate by the stars.
The First Book of Space Travel: How a Female Author & Illustrator Got Kids Into Science in 1953
“If I were a fairy godmother, my gift to every child would be curiosity.”
A Graphic Biography of Darwin
The evolution of the father of evolution, illustrated.
The Rebellious and Revolutionary Life of Galileo, Illustrated
How a college dropout reordered the heavens and forever changed our understanding of our place in the universe.
Mad About Monkeys: A Loving Illustrated Encyclopedia of Weird and Wonderful Kindred Creatures
A captivating primer on our fellow primates, from belligerent baboons to brilliant macaques.
The Elements of the Periodic Table, Personified as Illustrated Heroes
An irreverent take on chemistry from Japanese artist Bunpei Yorifuji.
Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes
A vibrant ode to science inspired by folk art.
The Boy Who Loved Math: The Illustrated Story of Eccentric Genius and Lovable Oddball Paul Erdos
How a prodigy of primes became the Magician from Budapest before he learned how to butter his own bread.
Published November 28, 2014