Science Books for Kids

For weeks, Smithsonian editor Kathleen Burke has been sifting through piles of kids' books to put together her annual list of notable books for children, now online. I dove in behind her to pull out some of the wonderful science books that I would have loved to have read when I was young:

Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream, by Tanya Lee Stone: They were the "Mercury 13", the first women who were deemed tough enough to become astronauts but were never considered by NASA to be sent into space. (Ages 10 and up)

Charles Darwin and the Beagle Adventure, by A. J. Wood and Clint Twist: It's all the extras that make this book special, like the fold-out map of the Beagle's path and the removable Darwin family tree, combined with extracts and illustrations from Darwin's own works. (Ages 6-10)

Charles' Darwin's On the Origin of Species: A Graphic Adaptation, by Michael Keller, illustrated by Nicolle Rager Fuller: As the title says, this is Darwin's book in graphic novel form. (Ages 10 and up)

Heroes of the Environment: True Stories of People Who are Helping to Protect Our Planet, by Harriet Rohmer: For the budding environmentalist needing inspiration, here are twelve stories from across North America, including a Mexican wrestler trying to save sea turtle habitat and a member of the Gwich'in people of Alaska who is working to prevent drilling the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. (Ages 10 and up)

Mission: Save the Planet, by Sally Ride and Tam O'Shaughnessy: The first American woman to fly in space (along with the COO of Sally Ride Science) gives kids tips on reducing carbon emissions at home and school. Includes references and worksheets. (Ages 9-12)

Mission to the Moon, by Alan Dyer: Jam-packed with information about and photos of Apollo 11, this book comes with a DVD containing footage from the actual moon landing. (Ages 8-12)

The Lives of Stars, by Ken Croswell: For the astronomy-mad child comes this detailed book about stars, filled with gorgeous pictures from Hubble and other advanced telescopes. (Ages 12 and up)

The Riverbank, by Charles Darwin, illustrated by Fabian Negrin: Beautiful illustrations accompany one of Darwin's most lyrical passages from On the Origin of Species. (Ages 8-12)

The Secret of the Yellow Death: A True Story of Medical Sleuthing, by Suzanne Jurmain: This tale of four American army doctors who traveled to Cuba to find a cure for yellow fever is inspirational, in addition to being well sourced. (Ages 10 and up)

The Tiny Seed, by Eric Carle: This story of the life cycle of a seed is an older one, but a new version of the book comes with a piece of seeded paper for a child to plant in the garden. (Ages 3-6)

The Unusual Mind of Vincent Shadow, by Tim Kehoe: This tale of a kid inventor was written by a real toy inventor. (Ages 8-12)

What Came First? by Sandro Natalini: The classic chicken and egg question introduces the story of the universe, from the Big Bang to Charles Darwin. (Ages 6-9)

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