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Science should be exciting for young people, giving them skills and opportunities to improve their futures. Here are a selection of books we love, books we think will inspire every child to become more interested in Science.
A Complete (and Completely Disgusting) Guide to the Human Body | This is an information text that will be read with great pleasure and is actually as unputdownable as a novel. It is very apparent that the multimillion-copy selling author and medical doctor has never grown out of his gleeful fascination with the human machine and has a real knack for presenting complex facts both clearly and concisely while making the reader laugh out loud. Similarly, the illustrations by Henry Parker combine accurate explanatory diagrams and zany amusing cartoons, often on the same page. Much of the humour is, of course, derived from the more disgusting aspects of the internal and external body and to making fun of the complicated language and terminology doctors and scientists use, but nonetheless using and explaining all those terms. Indeed the book concludes with a brilliantly educative glossary (and even the jokes are indexed!) A running gag is Clive and the ‘naming committee’ responsible for naming body parts, as is the continued references to the author’s dog Pippin, but always in a way which enhances an explanation or a description and develops understanding. Chapters cover all the organs and systems of the body as well as reproduction, life and death and germs (including COVID-19) and include Kay’s Kwestions (another running gag about needing a replacement Q on his keyboard) and True or Poo sections which answer the sort of questions inquisitive children will be dying to ask and expose the myths, misinformation and old wives tales that you might have heard. He does not shrink from difficult topics or giving unpopular advice – junk food, smoking and drinking really are bad for you and washing your hands properly is important. As genuinely useful as any textbook or revision guide, I would suggest multiple copies will be needed to satisfy demand in any school library.
A Circle of Life Story | Life is everywhere, we read at the close of this exceptional picture information book, and every page prior is brimming with it, so vividly depicted in Daniel Egnéus’ illustrations that you can almost hear the yapping and gekkering of the fox cubs, their mother’s barks, and all the constant bustle and hum of the natural world. Even in death we see there is life: the mother fox is hit and killed by a car but immediately tiny creatures get to work. As the seasons roll round and winter turns to spring, new life grows again and the particles that made up the fox become something else. Text and illustration together explain the circle of life with an extraordinary clarity while retaining a sense of the sheer wonder of it all. Share this with children who want to know what happens when something dies, or who just want to understand our world better.
Congratulations to Carl Wilkinson and James Weston Lewis who achieve something remarkable in this huge, beautiful information book: they explain Einstein’s theory of relativity to general readers, specifically young readers. They do it carefully, step by step, in bite-sized chunks and with lots of illustrations and diagrams to keep things accessible, starting by introducing Einstein himself and his early influences, before explaining the scientific theories and discoveries, from gravity to light waves and his understanding of space and time, that eventually provided the building blocks for the famous E =MC² equation. The text is always clear and concise, while the images do much of the hard work of explaining complex ideas and laws of physics. Einstein’s work deserves to be represented in illustrations that are full of movement, drama and wonder, and Weston Lewis gets that exactly right. Every reader will close the book fully aware of the enormity of Einstein’s achievement and his brilliance, and understanding his ideas and the process that led to them too. And find out a bit about the author's fascination with science and space in our Q&A with Carl Wilkinson.
A World of Houses and Habitats | Learn how humans have built dwellings to suit all kinds of habitats. Adapting themselves to all kinds of landscapes and climates, over the centuries humans have used their architectural ingeniousness to build amazing dwellings: find them here, from houses on stilts and igloos to tree houses and skyscrapers. Fully illustrated with clear, engaging artwork and intelligent, simple and original text presented in a clean, appealing design.
Where do pebbles come from? How were they made? This book tells the story of a pebble, from its origins in a fiery volcano 480 million years ago to a busy, modern landscape. Readers follow the processes of rock formation and erosion that create new pebbles all over the world.
Ada Lovelace: Rebel. Genius. Visionary | At once a passionate portrait of a scientifically seminal young woman, and a fascinating account of the lives of well-to-women in the early 19th-century, I Ada lays bare the many faces of Ada Lovelace. Ada the inquisitive. Ada the adventuress. Ada the visionary genius who defied convention to become the world’s first computer programmer, the seeds of which are sown in this portrayal of her early life. Driven by drama and a spirit of affection, this is as lively as it is informative. Fathered by flamboyant, notorious Lord Byron, it’s perhaps no wonder how easily Ada slips “into the unbordered realms of the imagination” as a child living on her grandparents’ country estate. Ada thinks of him often, and wonders why her mother speaks little of him. But then, Ada’s relationship with her strict, distant mother is often strained. Ada’s flighty tendencies jar with Lady Byron’s more rigid intellectual outlook. But they’re both inspired by their Grand Tour of Europe - Lady Byron seizes an opportunity to research ideas for her progressive school, while Ada’s mind is opened to a world of possibilities. Back in England, Ada’s desires are constrained by societal conventions, though female thinkers and mathematicians are among her circle, and then she meets a revolutionary inventor whose work chimes with her own innovative scientific ideas…
With a short, simple but often lyrical text, and through striking, beautiful illustrations, Moth tells the story of the peppered moth, and through that explains evolution and describes the changing landscapes of our world. The peppered moth provides a perfect example of natural selection: some moths are born with speckled wings, some are charcoal black. The speckled markings are most effective as camouflage when moths are resting on pale tree branches, but as the Industrial Revolution begins and trees are covered in sooty deposits from factories and chimneys, suddenly the black moths do better and their numbers rise. Then, as laws are passed to reduce pollution and the air clears, the situation is reversed again, and the number of speckled moths increases. Not only does this encapsulate natural evolution, it also reminds us of nature’s resilience and offers hope for the future. The final line encourages children to go out and observe moths for themselves, something this book will surely inspire them to do.
The Periodic Table Personified | Colin Stuart is a renowned astronomy speaker, a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and a well-regarded writer across a wide variety of media, hence this book comes with an impeccable pedigree. The delight of it is that it has taken a rather solemn and serious subject and – by presenting all the information in infographics – created a bright, very informative introduction to the periodic table! Each element in the Periodic table has a whole page devoted to the information about it – which includes a delightful host of weird and wonderful characters playing the elements! Each element is presented as a figure (host) with symbols showing its state at room temperature i.e. solid, liquid or gas, then where on earth it can be found. There are symbols for whether it is harmful to humans or not and any special use it is put to. A picture of the electron shell formation is included, its atomic mass and also the elements’ rankings i.e. its density, melting point and boiling point. This plus the date of discovery, and a short paragraph on typical usage of the element make this a valuable and informative look at the Periodic table. I feel sure the interesting approach and the fun illustrations will help some young chemists find a way into the topic perhaps earlier than usual. It will also have real benefit in aiding those of us who may otherwise struggle with Chemistry – me included!
September 2020 Book of the Month | Less than one year ago, until November 2019 in fact, SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus hadn’t infected a single person and was completely unknown to nearly all of us. Now it has changed our whole world, yet most of us still have only a hazy idea of what viruses are, which is where this brilliant little book comes in. The Virus tells you everything there is to know about viruses including of course COVID-19. It explains what viruses are, what they look like and do, why they are so successful at making us ill, what we can do to combat them, and why some of them actually help us. If this sounds a bit technical or heavy going, think again: it’s fascinating stuff and presented in a way that makes it really easy to read and understand. The story of coronavirus as told here is an adventure, full of heroes and villains, facts and figures that will stop you in your tracks, and some good jokes too. I can’t think of a more interesting or relevant book for our times – everyone needs to read this! If you're interested in science you can find many similar titles in our Best Non-Fiction collection.
With consultant Professor Graham Medley of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine as the adviser on this book you can use it in confidence that the information is relevant and correct. The idea behind the book was the brainchild of the publisher Nosy Crow - to make something freely available to help children understand the current situation and to try to ease some of their concerns. No-one has received any fees for this book. Plus, using such a well-known illustrator as Axel Scheffler (recognised worldwide for the Gruffalo illustrations) makes the whole thing feel recognisable and familiar. The book takes us through explaining what a virus is and how you might catch it – and what happens if you do catch it. A fascinating fact gleaned on the way is that there are more different antibodies inside us now than the number of people in the world! Everything is explained in simple terms so that young children can understand the way antibodies react to virus incursions. The book goes on to explain why we need to take care, why a vaccine may take some considerable time to develop and why so many things are closed at the moment. It also tackles the issues of being at home all the time, lack of fun and activities – and how to share and how to talk to your grown up about worries. Talking about ways to help is a very useful way forward – and also being kind to those you live with. The book finishes on the very positive statement that ‘one day this strange time will be over – we did it together’ a vital message of hope. There are also sections of information for children as well as for the parents, guardians and carers. It was a brilliant idea to create this – and a very generous act to make it available free of charge – excellent call Nosy Crow!
Inspired by a fantastical world imagined by the authors’ twin daughters, this educational activity book is underpinned by a belief that “children, especially girls, learn STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) skills best when these skills are approached within a storytelling context”. This brightly illustrated book certainly fulfils its aim of introducing STEM skills in an imaginative, interactive way, and its main character’s infectious enthusiasm for all things scientific will surely inspire more girls to get into STEM subjects. Lilli loves nothing more than finding things that “challenge her curious, scientific mind”. One night she transforms into her superheroine persona and embarks on a quest to help her friend fly from WooWoo Land. Young readers are invited to join Lillicorn’s quest, solving ten STEM puzzles in her vibrant world. With an appealing rhyming text, and charm tokens to collect along the way, the clear design conveniently signposts the STEM skills nurtured by each activity (including pattern recognition, abstraction, structured problem solving, sequencing, spatial perception and sorting) without detracting from the puzzle-solving or story. In some ways, the book’s structure is reminiscent of a computer game, with prompts and well-timed narrative pauses that invite readers to get stuck into the self-contained, bite-sized activities. What’s more, the tone is warmly encouraging, with the text informing readers that Lillicorn needs their help. Once the quest is complete, the solutions can be checked at www.lillicorn.com, where questers can also download a certificate and unlock additional activities.
Literacy Association of Ireland Award: Age 10-13 - 2019 | Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2020 | Bright Sparks charts discoveries, inventions and designs by women that have changed people’s lives, from the paper bag to the structure of DNA. Originally written for his daughter, this labour of love is a real celebration of stories still too rarely told.
May 2020 Non-Fiction Book of the Month | Interest Age 8+ Reading Age 8 | It’s exactly fifty years since the infamous Apollo 13 space mission took off for the moon. For any young person who doesn’t know what happened – and indeed for those that do too – David Long’s retelling will keep them on the edge of their seats, awed by the challenges of space travel, and by the ingenuity and determination of those who work in it. Survival in Space describes with just the right level of detail, how a broken electrical wire led to the explosion that left astronauts Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise stranded 200,000 miles from home, and how they and the team on earth worked to engineer their eventual successful return. In Barrington Stoke style, this is accessible to all readers, including those with dyslexia, but is without any trace of simplification. David Long has a great track record in non-fiction and this will be another firm favourite. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 8+
With expert input from Professor Graham Medley of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine | With consultant Professor Graham Medley of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine as the adviser on this book you can use it in confidence that the information is relevant and correct. The idea behind the book was the brainchild of the publisher Nosy Crow - to make something freely available to help children understand the current situation and to try to ease some of their concerns. No-one has received any fees for this book. Plus, using such a well-known illustrator as Axel Scheffler (recognised worldwide for the Gruffalo illustrations) makes the whole thing feel recognisable and familiar. The book takes us through explaining what a virus is and how you might catch it – and what happens if you do catch it. A fascinating fact gleaned on the way is that there are more different antibodies inside us now than the number of people in the world! Everything is explained in simple terms so that young children can understand the way antibodies react to virus incursions. The book goes on to explain why we need to take care, why a vaccine may take some considerable time to develop and why so many things are closed at the moment. It also tackles the issues of being at home all the time, lack of fun and activities – and how to share and how to talk to your grown up about worries. Talking about ways to help is a very useful way forward – and also being kind to those you live with. The book finishes on the very positive statement that ‘one day this strange time will be over – we did it together’ a vital message of hope. There are also sections of information for children as well as for the parents, guardians and carers. It was a brilliant idea to create this – and a very generous act to make it available free of charge – excellent call Nosy Crow!
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2021 | This is a superb example of an information text, ostensibly for younger children, but with multi-age and multi-curriculum uses. It is also a thing of beauty, printed on high quality paper doing full justice to the stunning illustrations, with the author’s expressive brush work, clever layout and a palette filled with watery blues and greens and the white and grey of rain, fog and snow. A little girl notices the role of water all around her—a sprinkler, a tap, a stream, a lake. She also notices that water sometimes tries to hide, or change state, and that water is part of every living thing including her. The book concludes with four pages of beautifully clear explanations of water forms (liquid, solid and gas), the water cycle and the all-important conservation of water. There are some excellent suggestions of how to play and learn about water and true or false questions to check understanding. These are very well suited to older children too, as indeed the book is, as a model of writing and the effective use of figurative language. Poetic descriptions make this an enjoyable read-aloud and the larger font labels that identify the source of the water on each page (including Zoe the narrator) are perfect for vocabulary building for the youngest child. A really well thought out and brilliantly executed early science picture book that deserves a place in every school.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month March 2020 | Taking a philosophical approach, this is a comprehensive look at the challenging question: What is Time? Having posed the question, author and illustrator Kathrin Köller and Irmela Schautz take readers through the past and present stories, myths and symbols of time from around the world which help to explain some of the mysteries which we all experience. These set the scene for a detailed look at the realities of how time is recorded and counted before closing with a section on travelling through time as in across time zones and in futuristic fantasies.
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