Living books for science

Living books for science

There is an endless array of living books for science, and this list was difficult to keep short! We’ve included books that our family valued, and also some contributions from customers and friends. I haven’t read them all, but boy, do I wanna!

Before we get into the meaty list, let’s talk about how these books made the cut. What is a living book? Living books are written by people who love their subject matter and know it well.  They are written in a narrative style that engages your child’s attention and stirs their interest and imagination. They don’t just give you the facts; you’ll have enjoyed a good story along the way in most cases.


The Mystery of the Periodic Table

This delightful book introduces children to people like Von Helmont, Boyle, Stahl, Priestly, Cavendish, Lavoisier, and many others who laid the groundwork for the periodic table as we know it. The first part of the book is aimed at 9-12 year olds, while the later chapters are designed for ages 12-13 and up, with a final chapter covering advanced information.

Who would think you could make a book about a list of elements so captivating? This is a great way to get this important imformation into the minds of children.


Story Book of Science

This is also one of our family favourite read alouds. It’s a nice way to casually study science while listening to lively stories about the forces of nature, plants and creatures.

Your kids are soaking in the facts without any effort!



Life science and nature study

The History of Medicine

This fascinating book makes it to my top 10 living books. It’s unique and covers a lot of health and science discoveries that started with men and women who used their abilities to better mankind. It is written from a Christian perspective.

It’s especially good for kids interested in nursing or medicine as a career.

You’ll find facts, mini-biographies, and vintage illustrations, along with questions at the end of each chapter. This is a must add to your home library.

The Wonderland of Nature

by Nuri Mass

This book also makes it into my top 10. Written by a mother for her own children, it’s a delightful exploration into Australian flora and fauna, as well as other earth science concepts.

Lots of illustrations and a delightful narrative makes this book very appealing to children. My 9 and 7 year olds loved it, and were keen to get outside and find all the little creatures in this book.

This new edition has been revised and updated to reflect current understanding and expanded to teach new advances in science.


Dr Jenner and the Speckled Monster

This book will take a bit to track down, but is well worth it. It’s especially pertinent in light of current events, giving a good understanding of how vaccines came about. 

Albert Marrin has written a couple of other books on science topics, but has mostly written biographies of historical figures, which are also excellent for teens.




Parables from Nature

I haven’t read this one, but have had it recommended by homeschool friends. Each story in this volume uses nature to reveal God in a beautiful way. 

It’s a good resource to cover Christian devotion while learning some life science as you go.



My Family and Other Animals 

by Gerald Durrell

This was a particular favourite of ours too. Humorous stories of Gerald’s “pets” will keep your children captivated, all while learning about the creatures.

From the book description: “With snakes in the bath and scorpions on the lunch table, the family home on the Greek island of Corfu is a bit like a zoo so they should feel right at home…”

Sounds like fun, yes?

Old Bob’s Birds

by CK Thompson

My friend Jeanne recommended CK Thompson’s books to me many years ago, but they were hard to find at the time. But now they have been reprinted and are easy to get a hold of!

This is just one of them, but they are all good – and they’re Australian. 


Bushland Stories

by Amy Mack

If Parables from Nature is not your cup of tea, this one might be. 

Non-religious parables about life set in and around the Australian bush. First printed over 80 years ago, it’s now available again.


Earth science

Snowflakes in Photographs

This was recommended by one of our homecshooling customers. It sounds fascinating. From the book description: For almost a century, W. A. Bentley caught and photographed thousands of snowflakes in his workshop at Jericho, Vermont, and made available to scientists and art instructors samples of his remarkable work. His painstakingly prepared images were remarkable revelations of nature’s diversity in uniformity: no two snowflakes are exactly alike, but all are based on a common hexagon.
In 1931, the American Meteorological Society gathered the best of Bentley’s photos and had them published.

The First Book of Stones

This was recommended by a homeschooling friend of mine. 

A great living book on geology, it tells how to identify different rocks, how to test their hardness, how to start a rock collection, how rocks are made and much more. 

Get ready for rock collections, folks!


A Ray of Light

by Walter Wick

Also recommended by a homeschooling friend, this book is a photographic exploration into the beauty and magic of light, embracing two disciplines, art and science.

Also his book A Drop of Water has spectacular photographs of water, magnifying its different states: ice, rainbow, steam, frost, dew. Beautiful and fascinating.


A Drop Around the World

A drop of rain is a drop of life – a drop of eternity. From steam to snow, from polluted to purified, from cloud to subterranean crack, water links the world in a living flow. Go on an out-of-sight journey from Maine to Mumbai, with just one raindrop as it touches plant, animal and human life all around the world.

Travelling with Drop, readers will see the world, inside and out, from solid, liquid and vaporous viewpoints. 



The Cartoon Guide to Chemistry

by Larry Gonick

This was another of our favourites. If you have kids that are struggling through a chemistry textbook, get this and give them a little break, while still learning the important stuff.




Biographies of scientists

The Great Astronomers

Detailed stories of the great astronomers and their discoveries, from Ptolemy to Adams. It’s handy to have them all in one book and is a good springboard to more study if your children are so inclined.




Gifted Hands : The Ben Carson Story

Yet another favourite of ours. I’d recommend it for teens – it’s a very inspiring story of an average kid brought up in inner-city Detroit becoming one of the world’s greatest brain surgeons.

It covers his childhood and the influence of his mother, right through to details about the surgeries he performed.

We loved Ben’s fascinating and exciting story.


George Washington Carver: Man’s Slave becomes God’s Scientist  

Recommended by a homeschooling friend, this is another inspiring story of a man who overcame prejudice, and became an outstanding scientist for God and country. 




Snowflake Bentley

You’ll most likely want this book to go along with the Snowflakes in Photgraphs. It’s the story of the author written especially for children.

“His story is gracefully told and brought to life in lovely woodcuts, giving children insight into a soul who had not only a scientist’s vision and perseverance but a clear passion for the wonders of nature.” 


The Ocean of Truth : The Story of Sir Isaac Newton

I remember my children reading this one. Isaac Newton was one of the greatest minds in history, and no study of science is complete without knowing about this man.

This book is a quick read packed with fascinating scientific information that you will enjoy just as much as your kids will.



Archimedes and the Door of Science

Archimedes was not a scientist per se, but he was the pioneer of the modern scientific method. Inventions such as the compound pulley and the Archimedean screw provided the foundation for the sciences of mechanics and hydrostatics. 

This biography is illustrated, bringing the well written narrative even more to life. In a story full of lively incidents, you’ll learn about how this mathematician and inventor influenced all following science. Our family really enjoyed this one.


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