Great Books for Studying Evolution and the Early Universe

Agent E {grade 5} has an intense fascination with evolution and how the universe came to be, sparked after visiting the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History {specifically the Human Origins exhibit} on our trip to Washington, D.C. two years ago. She is happily sharing this obsession with her two younger siblings, Agent J {grade 3} and Agent A {grade 1}.

Following is a list of 27 books we have read about human and animal evolution, the Big Bang, the early universe, Charles Darwin and his adventures, and the beginnings of life on earth. I’ve included links to each book’s Goodreads page so you can read a brief summary.
Much younger Agents at the National Museum of Natural History
in Washington DC {November 2014}
If you want to get your kids excited about this branch of science, I cannot recommend these resources enough. I would estimate grade level of most of them to be somewhere between 1st and 5th, although some are clearly aimed at younger children and a few are more appropriate for older kids. {Evolution: The Human Story is the only one not written for kids per se—it’s more of a coffee table book—but we’re using it for one of our science “spine” texts this year.}
  1. 20 Fun Facts About Galaxies by Michael Sabatino
  2. Animals Charles Darwin Saw: An Around-the-World Adventure by Sandra Markle
  3. Bang!: How We Came To Be by Michael Rubino
  4. Big Bang! The Tongue-Tickling Tale of Speck That Became Spectacular by Carolyn Cinami Decristofano
  5. Buried Sunlight: How Fossil Fuels Have Changed the Earth by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm
  6. Darwin by Alice B. McGinty
  7. Evolution Revolution by Robert Winston
  8. Evolution: The Human Story by Alice Roberts
  9. G Is for Galaxy: An Out of This World Alphabet by Janis Campbell and Cathy Collison
  10. Life As We Know It by Robert Winston
  11. Lucy Long Ago: Uncovering the Mystery of Where We Came From by Catherine Thimmesh
  12. Older Than the Stars by Karen C. Fox
  13. One Beetle Too Many: The Extraordinary Adventures of Charles Darwin by Kathryn Lasky
  14. Our Family Tree: An Evolution Story by Lisa Westberg Peters
  15. Prehistoric People by Bruce Coville
  16. Stardust From Space by Monica Bradley
  17. Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos by Stephanie Roth Sisson
  18. The Iceman by Don Lessem
  19. The Ice Mummy by Cathy East Dubowski
  20. The Lucy Man: The Scientist Who Found the Most Famous Fossil Ever! by Cap Saucier
  21. The Story of Life: A First Book About Evolution by Catherine Barr and Steve Williams
  22. What Darwin Saw: The Journey That Changed the World by Rosalyn Schanzer
  23. What Mr. Darwin Saw by Mick Manning
  24. When Bugs Were Big, Plants Were Strange, and Tetrapods Stalked the Earth: A Cartoon Prehistory of Life Before Dinosaurs by Hannah Bonner
  25. When Fish Got Feet, Sharks Got Teeth, and Bugs Began to Swarm: A Cartoon Prehistory of Life Long Before Dinosaurs by Hannah Bonner
  26. Who Was Charles Darwin? by Deborah Hopkinson
  27. Young Charles Darwin and the Voyage of the Beagle by Ruth Ashby
p.s. A bonus {non-book} resource: If you ever have the opportunity to visit a planetarium where We Are Stars {narrated by Andy Serkis} is showing, run, don’t walk, to the ticket counter. This was by far the best explanation of how the universe came to be I’ve ever seen.

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