Biology Books Ages 4 and Up
In our many talks with successful scientists, especially Nobel Prize-winning scientists, we learned that books were critical to developing in them a love for science. Here are a number of recommended biology resources for young children ages 4 and up.
Scholastic Discover More: Animal Faces (1996) by Akira Satoh and Kyoko Toda (ages 4 and up). Shows 21 photos of each of 24 species of animal, each one showing a different face. Students can look at seemingly identical faces and then discover how they all differ from each other. Illustrates the tremendous diversity of individuals of the same species.
Animals in Winter (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science). Henrietta Bancroft. (ages 4 to 8) HarperTrophy (1997). Brightly colored paintings bring the text to life through the realistic portrayal of animals, birds, and butterflies in their natural habitats. Readers learn about the variety of responses animals have to the coming of winter.
Be a Friend to Trees (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out, Stage 2): Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science series (Stage 2). Patricia Lauber. (4 to 8 Years) HarperCollins (1994). This book shows that trees are something we can’t live without. It describes trees as home and food for various animals, as providers of fruits and nuts for humans, as sources of wood, paper, rubber, and turpentine. Then words and pictures demonstrate the process of photosynthesis, step-by-step: how trees make food in their leaves and how they release the oxygen we need to breathe. A final section gives hands-on examples for recycling paper and shows two youngsters planting a tree.
Big Tracks, Little Tracks: Following Animal Prints (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science, Stage 1) (1999) by Millicent E. Selsam (ages 4-8). This Let’s- Read-and-Find-Out Science book (Stage 1) shows readers that keeping a sharp eye out for clues like animal tracks and odors can help them infer the identity of the animals that have passed through an area.
Bugs Are Insects (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 1). Ann Rockwell. (4-8 Years) Harpercollins Juvenile Books (2001). This book introduces children to the world of insects and, in particular, bugs. Rockwell offers basic factual information in an interesting, easy-to-read format. Common insects are introduced, and the main differences between insects and spiders are explained as well as what makes a bug a bug. The collage illustrations are beautifully rendered with layered colored papers.
Bugs for Lunch. Margery Facklam. (4-8 Years) Charlesbridge (1999). In snappy, lilting verse, Facklam lists a variety of creatures that feast on bugs, including bats and bears, toads and trout – and humans. Each double page spread showcases a beautifully rendered watercolor illustration, with equal attention to realistic detail and artistic composition. A section at the back supplies additional information about each featured eater.
Chirping Crickets. Melvin Berger. (4 - 8 years) HarperCollins (1998). Inside this book children will learn about crickets, and even how to tell the temperature by counting a cricket's chirps.
Come to the Ocean’s Edge: A Natural Cycle Book. Laurence Pringle. (Age 4 and Up) Boyds Mills Press (2003). Poetic text and captivating watercolor illustrations take the reader through a 24 hour period of life at the ocean’s edge.
Crab Moon. Ruth Horowitz. (4-8 years) Candlewick Press (2000). This story about a boy who helps save a stranded horseshoe crab invokes themes of environmentalism and respect for all creatures. One night in June, young Daniel and his mother go down to the beach to see the female horseshoe crabs digging holes in the sand for their eggs and then pulling the males across to fertilize them. The next day, the crabs are gone, but Daniel finds one turned upside down and immobile. He cautiously flips her over, and watches her scuttle back to the sea, “quiet as a queen.” This book encourages readers to seek out the beauty and importance of creatures that might seem alien at first glance. Notes at the end give children more facts about horseshoe crabs.
Diary of a Worm. Doreen Cronin. (4-8 Years) Joanna Cotler Books (2003). A young worm discovers, day by day, that there are some very good and some not so very good things about being a worm in this great big world. A great introduction to a unit on soil. Also from this author and Diary of a Fly and Diary of a Spider.
Dig, Wait, Listen: A Desert Toad’s Tale. April Pulley Sayre. (4-8 years) Greenwillow Books (2001). A spadefoot toad waits under the sand for rain, hears the sounds of the other desert animals, and eventually mates and spawns other toads.
Ducks Don’t Get Wet. Augusta Goldin. (4-8 years) HarperTrophy (1999). Why don't ducks get wet? This delightful Let’s- Read-and-Find-Out Science book explains how ducks dip and dive, but they have special physical and behavioral adaptations to help them stay dry.
The Extinct Alphabet Book. Jerry Pallotta. (4-8 Years) Charlesbridge (1993). This book is filled with unusual and amazing creatures that are no longer on Earth. Have students point out the extinct animals that resemble organisms alive today.
From Chick to Chicken. Judith Powell. (Ages 4 and Up) Raintree Steck-Vaughn (2001). Large photos and easy text follow a chick’s growth and development to adulthood. Includes how chickens and eggs are raised for food.
The Gift of the Tree. Alvin Tresselt. (4-8 Years) Lothrop, Lee, and Shepard Books (1972, 1992). This exceptionally beautiful book tells the life story of an old oak tree.
Growing Frogs. Vivian French. (4-8 Years) Candlewick Press (2000). Vivian French's simple, amusing text infuses life, humor, and plenty of personality into this environmentally sound, scientifically accurate introduction to frog metamorphosis.
Hello, Fish! Visiting the Coral Reef. Sylvia A. Earle. (4-8 Years) National Geographic (1999). In poetic yet fact-filled text accompanied by eye-catching, large-format photographs, the young reader is given an up-close-and-personal view of a variety of funny, unusual, and beautiful fish, all residents of various coral reefs around the world. Useful for exploring the different kinds of organisms that a coral reef supports.
Honeybees. Deborah Heiligman. (4-8 Years) National Geographic (2002). Children follow the life of a busy worker bee as she moves from job to job in the hive, helping the community in various ways. As a nurse bee, the worker feeds the larvae, nourishing the young into adulthood. As a forager bee, she flies long distances in search of nectar, pollinating plants as she moves from flower to flower. And as a guard bee, the worker warns the hive of intruders and battles honey-stealing robber bees from other hives. The fact-filled text and vibrant art highlight the many activities of these busy insects and their amazing sense of community, while a special experiment encourages kids to dance like a honeybee to learn about bee communication.
Honk, Honk Goose! Canada Geese Start a Family. April Pulley Sayre. (4-8 Years) Henry Holt (2009). This fun read-aloud, follows the mating, nesting, and nurturing rituals of a family of Canada Geese.
How a Seed Grows. Helene Jordan. (4-8 Years) HarperCollins (1992). Accompanied by step-by-step directions on how to plant a seed and care for it as it grows, a simple text and detailed artwork reveal how seeds are transformed into plants and discusses the importance of sunlight, water, and other nutrients.
How to Hide a Meadow Frog and Other Amphibians. Ruth Heller. (4 – 8 Years) Grossett and Dunlap (1995). There are lots of amphibians to discover in this vibrantly colored nature book of hide-and-seek. Ruth Heller shows how toads, salamanders, and other interesting amphibians are experts at camouflage.
I Know How My Cells Make Me Grow. Kate Rowan. (4-8 Years) Walker Books (1999). Sam and his mother talk about the different kinds of cells in his body, how they grow, and how in doing so they help him grow. Simple, accurate text combined with colorful cartoons make this a fun introduction to the cells of the human body.
I Took a Walk. Henry Cole. (4-8 Years) Greenwillow (1998). This richly illustrated read-aloud book takes young listeners through woods and meadows and beside streams and ponds, where they discover, in vibrant, fold-out panoramas, butterflies and box turtles, wildflowers and water birds. After reading, take students on their own walk, as the author suggests, and "find a place to sit and watch and listen."
In the Snow: Who’s Been Here? Lindsay Barrett George. (4-8 Years) Greenwillow Books (1995). Two children on their way to go sledding see evidence of a variety of animal life. The reader must infer from the evidence what animals had been in each location. Each time, the answers are revealed on the next page. Also by this author: Around the Pond: Who’s Been Here? and In the Woods: Who’s Been Here?
Insects Are My Life. Megan McDonald. (4 and Up) Orchard Books (1995). Amanda’s passionate interest in insects, not shared by family and schoolmates, causes problems as other class members begin to ostracize her. All ends well, though, when she finds herself sitting next to Maggie – who loves reptiles. Also by this author: Reptiles are My Life (2001).
Into the Sea. Brenda Guiberson. (Ages 4-8) Henry Holt (1996). Recounts the life of a sea turtle from its days as a hatchling on a sandy beach through its return to the same island as an egg-laying adult many years later. Using vivid prose, the author describes the creature's initial journey into the sea, its growth and travels throughout the ocean, and its narrow escape from a fishing net.
Pond Walk by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace (ages 4 to 7) This must be how biologists go to the park with their kids–pointing out all the interesting plants and animals, teaching about how these organisms interact, encouraging their children to document it all in drawings and telling silly jokes along the way.
Redwoods. (2009) by Jason Chin (ages 4-8). A boy goes on a magic trip to the redwood forest and learns about its ecology. Very nice book for younger readers. Beautiful illustrations, good up-to-date science.
Rotten Pumpkin: A Rotten Tale in 15 Voices (2013) by David M. Schwartz, (ages preschool-7) A jack-o-lantern slowly rots, and we hear from the squirrels, snails and fungi as they do their job. Good photographs; needs a parent with acting skills to bring out the "15 voices."
You are Stardust by Elin Kelsey (ages 4 and up). You are Stardust takes the approach that every atom inside our bodies originated from a star that exploded before we were born. With its beautiful papercuts and elegant story, we learn to reacquaint ourselves with the natural world.