Our team have chosen the best science books for kids to read this year. Head outside for some family foraging with the help of Alys Fowler and Heidi Griffiths’ new book or get gruesome facts to fascinate your gore-obsessed teens from Erika Engelhaupt’s weird science adventures.
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The best science books for kids to read in 2021
Robin Stevenson and Allison Steinfeld
Every parent thinks their kid is going to change the world, but what can we learn from the formative years of those who really did?
From Florence Nightingale and the Wright brothers to Bill Gates and Elon Musk, this imaginative, inspiring book tells the childhood stories of innovators of all kinds. Each mini biography comes with colourful illustrations and interesting factoids about game-changers in science, entertainment, business and technology. Worried your child is a daydreamer? Don’t be. Alan Turing was exactly the same.
KEW: Grow, Forage and Make
Alys Fowler and Heidi Griffiths
Lockdown gave us all a new appreciation of the outdoors and, for many parents, forced us to come up with inventive ways to keep young people engaged and entertained. This new fieldbook from Kew Gardens is packed with fun ideas for small green fingers.
From foraging edible flowers and roots to growing neon beetroots in the dark, there’s an emphasis on discovery and mud-splattered practicality with lots of things to make, grow and find – indoors and outdoors.
Catherine Barr and Jenni Desmond
This is an evocative story about rewilding, designed to capture imaginations young and old, as well as give us all a refreshed appreciation of nature. The book tells the story of the wolves of Yellowstone Park. They disappeared in the 1930s and their absence had far-reaching consequences for the local ecosystem, with the fortunes of many species tied up with that of the pack.
It took until 1995 for wolves to be reintroduced to Yellowstone, and this wonderfully illustrated book tells the amazing story of what happened next.
Diary of a Young Naturalist
One of the most warmly received books in any genre from recent years gets a paperback release this month. Diary of a Young Naturalist chronicles the life of author Dara McAnulty, a nature-obsessed environmental campaigner who finds peace in observing, recording and understanding the wildlife and landscapes he encounters.
McAnulty is autistic and his book, often described as a blend of nature book and coming-of-age memoir, charts a tumultuous period of his life. His relationship with the environment is one of solace, and a reminder to us all of the healing power of the natural world.
Where the Wild Things Grow
Part how-to guide, part love letter to the ecosystems on our doorsteps, this book reveals the food hidden in plain sight that most of us have the chance to forage. From wild mushrooms and berries to the weeds that grow in our gardens, David Hamilton draws on his own extensive experience to explain what’s out there and where to find it. Along the way, he also illuminates the science and history of wild foods and explains how to use them in recipes.
Gory Details: Adventures From the Dark Side of Science
Based on a blog from National Geographic, this collection of scientific snapshots explores the weird, the gross and the funny. In other words, it’s great for young minds who want to impress their friends with something outrageous (but informative).
The book covers everything from bee stings to blood spatter at crime scenes – so it’s probably one for teens rather than tots – and never skimps on the juicy, biological or anatomical details. Often illuminating unreported areas of science, there’s plenty for parents here, too.
More great science books for children and teens
None of the above suit your kids’ interests?
Try these brilliant books for science lovers and nature enthusiasts. There’s something here for all ages!
What To Look For In Spring
We might be in the chilliest months of the year right now, but soon the natural world will start waking up from its winter slumber to burst into life once more. This beautifully illustrated, pocket-sized book guides young readers through the wonders of nature that can be witnessed during spring, including meteor showers, boxing hares and bleating lambs.
Ladybird’s original series of What To Look For books was published in the 1960s, and this modern, child-friendly update is sure to appeal to the new generation of readers.
Marie Curie And Her Daughters
Imogen and Isabel Greenberg
Many of us are familiar with Marie Curie, the brilliant scientist who made game-changing discoveries in the field of chemistry. Yet perhaps less well known are her two daughters, Irène and Ève, who grew up to be just as passionate and independent as their mum. Irène became a great scientist, while Eve was a journalist, war correspondent and humanitarian, who later worked for UNICEF.
This gorgeously illustrated book tells the remarkable story of Marie, Irène and Ève, as they travel the world, save lives during WWI and WWII and win Nobel Prizes.
Made For Each Other
Joanna McInerney and Georgina Taylor
Sometimes it pays to have a trusted friend close by. In nature, teamwork can make the difference between surviving another day or becoming someone else’s lunch.
This stunning book, illustrated by debut artist Georgina Taylor, takes us on a tour through some of the most intriguing partnerships in the wild world. Whether they help each other to ward off predators, remove parasites, reproduce or feed, the organisms featured in this book have learnt how to work together to successfully co-exist.
What’s The Weather?
Fraser and Judith Ralston
At a time when extreme weather is becoming more common, it makes sense to get clued up on the science behind it. This colourful book tells us about clouds, the climate and global warming, reveals how the weather has changed over Earth’s entire history, what it could be like in the future, and teaches us how we can predict the weather.
What’s The Weather? is jam-packed with bite-sized facts and cute illustrations that reveal intriguing titbits of information, such as the different names for snowflake structures and how lightning storms form. A great one for learning at home.
The Awesome Power Of Sleep
Teenagers today have to struggle with excessive amounts of screentime, pressure from social media, school stress, late nights, and worries about friendships. It’s no wonder they aren’t getting enough sleep! Nicola Morgan, an expert on the adolescent brain, explores the importance of sleep for teenage health, wellbeing and development, and reveals why a good night’s rest is so crucial.
With plenty of scientific evidence conveyed in an accessible and authoritative way, this helpful guide is a fascinating read for both teenagers and adults alike.
A great series of books for revision, there are books on GCSE topics such as biology, chemistry and physics, but also specific titles including the study of genetics, the writings of Shakespeare and the science of Earth’s weather. Condensing each topic into 50 fundamental facts, these short books make learning straightforward and (dare we say it) interesting!
How Science Works
Although this book is primarily aimed at adults, it is full to brimming with easy to understand diagrams, illustrations and infographics that will spark the imagination of anyone that picks it up, young or old.
Teens cramming for an exam will love the fact that every page is dedicated to a specific part of science (think the quantum world, machines, special relativity or the carbon cycle), while for the rest of us this is probably the best science book if you need a quick refresher.
I Want to be… Series
Becky Davies, illustrated by Richard Merritt
- Buy I Want to be an Astronaut from Bookshop.org and Waterstones
- Buy I Want to be a Doctor from Amazon UK and Bookshop.org
- Buy I Want to be a Firefighter from Bookshop.org and Waterstones
These books for babies and toddlers make the perfect introduction to people’s jobs and what their daily life is like. Share stories of what an astronaut might do out in space, or explain what your role as a doctor involves. Where is that firetruck going? I Want to be a Firefighter can help answer your little one’s questions.
Turn and Learn: Our World
Isabel Otter, illustrated by Hannah Tolson
If you’ve been watching Sir David Attenborough’s new series as a family, why not explore more of the Earth with this interactive book for young readers? You’ll meet the people who live in the Arctic, the creatures that live in the desert, and see the world from a new perspective through Hannah Tolson’s detailed illustrations.
By the same author and illustrator is Turn and Learn: Weather, to help you explain how rain and the Sun, thunder and snow, come to be outside our windows.