Science is best learned by piquing one’s curiosity with questions, pictures, and ideas. Then, it is often time to move to hands-on explorations designed to answer questions. The textbooks chosen in this list will provide one opportunity to pique their curiosity and then roll up their sleeves with some enjoyable inquiry or experiments. The textbooks were specifically chosen to be highly engaging, informative and inexpensive.
The suggestion is to buy textbooks in the paperback form in order to save money or buy the used text version. You can buy most of these books in paperback or used for around $25 or less. In some cases, the hardback version is around that price.
Overall Science Books –
“The Science Book: Everything You Need to Know About the World and How It Works” by Marshall Brain –
This is a National Geographic book. It has 432 pages of great illustrations, pictures, and charts as well as authoritative explanations of natural phenomena, inventions, and scientific concepts. It is divided up into units on space and Earth, biology, chemistry, mathematics and physics. Information is cross-referenced and linked throughout the book in order to make it easy to follow a line of inquiry. It is a good reference to start finding out more about specific scientific topics.
“Science Encyclopedia: Atom Smashing, Food Chemistry, Animals, Space, and More!” by National Geographic Kids –
This is also a general, encyclopedia-type science book by National Geographic, but it is targeted for kids in third through seventh grade. Like the other book, it has great illustrations, pictures, and charts. It is good for 3rd graders because the text is not written in long paragraphs. It is a great jumping-off point to get kids excited about a scientific topic, so they will want to do more research and inquiry.
Natural History –
“Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide” by DK Publishing –
This is an amazing and huge, 632-page book that has beautiful pictures, maps of habitat, an engaging layout and interesting information that will engage readers of all ages for many hours of study and inquiry. This volume gets regularly updated to match the new information that science is providing about animals. DK Publishing is well known for its engaging content and great illustrations. The Smithsonian Institute oversees the publishing of each new volume of this book, so the content is authoritative.
“Natural History: The Ultimate Visual Guide to Everything on Earth (Smithsonian)” by DK Publishing –
This is another offering by DK Publishing in tandem with the Smithsonian Institute’s Museum of Natural History. Coming in at 632 pages, this book is a huge and engaging visual survey of life on Earth, presenting each part in its classification taxonomy. There are over 6,000 species presented including bacteria, rocks, and minerals, fossils, plants, and animals. The pictures are stunning, and the text is interspersed with sidebars that ask and answer inquiry questions.
Earth Science –
“Earth” by Michael Allaby –
Another book by DK Publishing, this is a 520-page coffee table book that is richly illustrated and again was overseen by the Smithsonian Institute. The goal is to provide a thorough look at Earth. The sections include chapters on land, ocean, atmosphere and tectonic plates. The habitats, physical composition, geography and weather on Earth are detailed. This book is so comprehensive in its scope, that a professor claims he uses it in his physical geography classes.
Astronomy and Space –
“Universe: The Definitive Visual Guide” by Martin Reese –
This is a DK Publishing book of 512 pages that helps to provide information, stunning photography and artwork to help readers learn about outer space. Topics include the solar system, galaxies, each planet, and supernovas. The book has a lot of in-depth information, including 15 pages of information on Mars alone. There are also detailed star charts and an explanation of each constellation.
Physics, Chemistry, and Biology –
“Outdoor Science Lab for Kids” by Liz Lee Heinecke –
A guidebook to experiments children and their parents can do outdoors that teach concepts of physics, chemistry, and biology. For example, kids make a catapult to learn the laws of physics, learn about germination by sprouting pine cone seeds and understand capillary action by making stalactites with baking soda.
“Human Body: An Illustrated Guide to Every Part of the Human Body and How It Works” by Martyn Page –
Very well illustrated, pocket-sized book on the workings and potential diseases of the human body.
“The Brain: The Story of You” by David Eagleman –
This book dives into all of the workings of the brain and includes facts that will stay with you. It also talks about the brain versus the mind and reality and consciousness as well as providing guidelines for keeping Alzheimer’s away.
“The New Way Things Work” by David Macaulay –
A wonderfully illustrated book that explains the workings of devices as simple as levers to highly complex electronic devices. This book is great for children and adults, explaining everything in non-technical language with the pictures helping to explain the workings.
“Make Electronics: Learning Through Discovery” by Charles Platt –
This book teaches electronics through simple and easy electronics experiments that utilize inexpensive components. One is building and taking apart things in order to learn how electronics really works. The book is richly illustrated and has many diagrams to help demonstrate the principles explained in the text.
Buy textbooks that are richly illustrated and highly engaging in order to learn more about science and pique your curiosity for more inquiry and learning.