Living books on science “should be of a literary character, and we would probably be more scientific as a people if we scrapped all the text books. Where science does not teach a child to wonder and admire, it is perhaps of no educational value. “ Charlotte Mason Series Volume 6 p.218
Charlotte Mason’s ideas on science include using living science books as the core of a child’s science curriculum.
Charlotte Mason also saw that books played an important role in the sequential study of science. However she believed that the type of literature used was just as important as the content being covered. Dry textbooks were discouraged and authors who wrote in a more narrative style were chosen.
In the early primary school years children can read a variety of books from each strand of science.
General Living Books on Science
The Magic School Bus Series by Joanna Cole also has many fun books to choose from.
If you are looking for a living book in a textbook style then I recommend the Exploring Creation by Apologia series. This series is popular with many homeschoolers. The author is a Charlotte Mason fan and has written seven books. The textbooks they are written in an engaging narrative style which is 5th grade reading level. They develop scientific skills and discuss science as a human endeavour in context with the subject being studied. You do not need to do all the series. Choose books that cover the four strands of science. You can find out more from the Jeannie Fulbright here.
Using Narrative Style Science Texts – Year 4 to Year 8
Exploring Creating with Astronomy (Space & Earth Science )
This book is in its second edition. My kids loved it and it was a good introduction to astronomy.
The New Astronomy Book by Danny Faulkner
This is from a Christian author it has 15 chapters and would be good as a book for notebooking. Ages 10 to 16
We never actually did this one but if your kids are keen on birds it covers all the basics. However you won’t find a lot of Australian bird examples.
Exploring Creation with Zoology 2 – Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day (Biology)
Your kids learn all about the creatures of the sea. They also build a marine box with models of many fish using clay or Plasticine – this was a highlight.
My son enjoyed placing all the animals on a big world map as he studied them. He also loved the animal tracks notebooking exercises.
Exploring Creation With Botany (Biology & Earth Science)
We enjoyed this book. It teaches about plant classification , the anatomy of plants, photosynthesis etc.
Exploring Creation with Physics and Chemistry (Physics and Chemistry)
We left this for Year 7. It was a good overview.
We left this for Year 8. You could do it earlier if desired. My girls particularly liked this.
Whilst experiments sound like they are a lot of fun they can also be a burden if you try to do too much. Use simple experiment books as a fun thing to do and always give yourself adequate time to complete them. They always seemed to take longer than I expected.
Science Experiments and Amusements for Children -Charles Vivian
This older-styled Dover science experiment book contains 73 easy experiments (each with a photo and/or diagram) that illustrate important scientific principles. No special equipment is needed. Old title was “Science Games for Children” so you can see they are fun and interesting projects. Children could do these with help from 6 yrs +, or on their own from 8 yrs +
Biology for Every Kid – Janice van Cleave
101 easy to do experiments with clear instructions plus explanation, in areas of plants, animals and the human body. Ages 6 – 13 yrs.
DK Nature Encyclopaedia
A useful reference book on all aspects of natural science. How Living Things Work (ie. cells), ecology, classification, then double pages on each family of plants and animals. Fully illustrated and labelled. Secular publisher includes a chapter on evolution at the start.
Chemical World Living Books
- What Is the World Made Of? All About Solids, Liquids, and Gases by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld
- 50 Kitchen Experiments
- Properties of Matter
- The Story of Salt by Mark Kurlansky. This picture book is a history and chemistry lesson. It traces the uses of salt through the ages and identifies its ancient uses and properties. Highly recommended. Ages 8 to 14
Physical World Living Books
- Gravity Is a Mystery by Franklyn M. Branley
- Isaac Newton and the Laws of Motion by Andrea Gianopoulos
- The Physics of Kitchen Machines
Ecology – Earth Science Books
- Pagoo – Holling C. Holling. Illustrated story about a crab. Classic. Ages 5 – 12 yrs
- Under the Sea – Usborne Beginners
- The Sky is Full of Stars by Franklyn M Branley
- The Moon Seems To Change by Franklyn M Bradley
- The Planets in Our Solar System – Level 2 Reader
Biology and Earth Science – Nature Stories
Nature stories educate us about places we have never been and places that we have gone. However a nature story brings with it the literary strength of description with rich metaphors and detailed observations.
For Australian Nature Stories:
General Nature Study
Pocketful of Pinecones – Karen Andreola
The Great Wildlife Search – Usborne
A long-time family favourite. Every double page features a particular scene from a different part of the world and the wildlife in it, with interesting facts about each that sink in as you search for them all. Each page is a nature extravaganza. Three books in one: Great Animal Search, Big Bug Search, Great Undersea Search. Ages 3—11 yrs
- Greg’s Microscope – Millicent Selsam
- Cell Wars – Fran Balkwill Ages 6 – 10
- Germ Hunter: A Story about Louise Pasteur – Elaine Alphin
- The Giant Germ – Magic School Bus Chapter Books – Ages 7 – 10 yrs
- Gregor Mendel: The Friar Who Grew Peas by Cheryl Bardoe . This deserves a special mention because it is so beautiful in it’s illustrations and still teaches a good chunk of Mendels research. This is a highly recommended title. Ages 7 -12
Biology Human Body
- Out of Darkness: The Story of Louise Braille – by Russell Freedman
- Click! A Story about George Eastman – Barbara Mitchell. A children’s biography about the man who developed the instamatic Kodak camera. Ages 6 – 12 yrs
- Helen Keller – Margaret Davidson
- Alexander Graham Bell – Elizabeth MacLeod
- The Listening Walk – Paul Shower
- My Five Senses – Aliki. Ages 3 -6 yrs
- Human Anatomy in Full Colour – John Green . Large print, full coloured glossy pages of all body systems and organs. Amazing detail. Ages 8 yrs – adult.
- Gray’s Anatomy: A Fact-filled Coloring Book – Henry Gray. Learn by colouring parts of your body. Large print explanations opposite each colouring page. Ages 8 – 16 yrs.
- Your Skin and Mine – Paul Showers. Explanation of parts of the skin and their functions. Ages 4 – 9 yrs
- Fearfully and Wonderfully Made – Philip Yancey and Dr. Paul Brand. A doctor writes about cells, bones, skin and motion -relating the many clients he has helped, especially on the mission field. Ages 12 yrs – adult
- Bones: Our Skeletal System – Seymour Simon
- Muscles: Our Muscular System – Seymour Simon
- What Happens to a Hamburger – Paul Showers.
Great explanation of digestion, plus electron microscope pictures of inside the digestive tract. Experiments that can be done with the book aid understanding. Ages 5 – 10 yrs
- The Heart: Our Circulatory System – by Seymour Simon Ages 8 – 12 yrs
- The Brain: Our Nervous System – Seymour Simon Ages 8 – 12 yrs
- Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story about Brain Science – John Fleishmann. Ages 9 – 14 yrs
Plants and Photosynthesis
- The Story of George Washington Carver – Eva Moore
- The Reason for a Flower – Ruth Heller. Brief text and lavish illustrations explain plant reproduction and the purpose of a flower and presents some plants which don’t seem to be flowers but are. Ages 4 – 7 yrs
- How Flowers Grow – Usborne Beginners
- How to Draw Flowers – Dover Easy-to-follow diagrams show how to use simple shapes to draw realistic likenesses of a sunflower, daisy, rose, morning glory, tulip, daffodil, and 24 other blossoms
- The True Tale of Johnny Appleseed – Margaret Hodges (OOP)
- Sky Tree: Seeing Science Through Art – Thomas Locker. An award-winning artist explores how trees remain full of wonder through every season. Lovely paintings with thoughtful questions. Ages 6 – 11 yrs
- Tell Me Tree: All About Trees for Kids – Gail Gibbons. Beautifully illustrated book all about trees including drawings of the bark, leaves and flowers of lots of trees
- One Day in the Woods – Jean Craighead George. Woodland ecology in an exciting story. Ages 5 – 9 yrs
- The Secret Life of Trees – DK Reader level 2. About all the parts of trees.
- The Wonderland of Nature is filled with Australian insects.
- Insect Invaders – Magic School Bus Chapter Book – Ages 7 -10 yrs
- Grasshopper Summer – Ann Turner, In 1874, 11 year-old Sam and his family move from Kentucky to the Dakota territory. They anticipate hardships, but no one expects a plague of locusts so devastating an entire year’s worth of crops is lost. Ages 7 – 13 yrs
- A Girl of the Limberlost – Gene Stratton-Porter. A timeless story of an impoverished girl on the edge of the Limberlost swamp who collects rare moths for the Bird Lady to pay for her high school education. Beautiful nature study story.
- Swimmy – Leo Lionni – story about a little fish, whose school is eaten by a tuna – and how he teaches the other fish he finds to camouflage themselves. Caldecott Honour book. Ages 3 – 7 yrs
- DK – Eyewitness Fish – Photographs and text explore the characteristics, habitats, and varieties of fishes and other undersea life.
- Owls in the Family – Farley Mowat. Two owls are added to a family. with hilarious results. Ages 5- 12 yrs
- Song of the Swallows – Leo Politi A Mexican boy encourages some swallows to return to his garden after their migration.Caldecott Medal Winner Ages 3 – 8 yrs
- One Day in the Woods – Jean Craighead George. A nature study story about an ovenbird.
- Eggs and Chicks – Usborne Beginner -. Large print reader. Not only about chickens but many sorts of birds’ life-cycles.
Amphibians and Reptiles
- Tadpoles and Frogs – Usborne Beginners: Wonderful illustrated reader for ages 4 – 10 yrs.
- Great Dinosaur Mystery and the Bible A Biblical look at the first reptiles. HB
- Snakes Slither and Hiss – a DK book
- Crocodiles and Alligators – Seymour Simon.
- What is a Reptile? Bobbie Kalman. Ages 7 – 12 yrs
- DK – Eyewitness Mammals – A first nature book HB
- Night Animals – Usborne Beginners – by Sam Meredith . A large print illustrated reader, mostly about mammals. Ages 3 – 10 yrs.
- Dolphin Adventure – Wayne Grover. One diver’s incredible undersea experience. Amazing true story. Ages 6 – 10 yrs