Guest Post: Evolution Resources for Kids

Evolution resources for kidsThis is a guest post from Jonathan Tweet. Jonathan is the author or Grandmother Fish, a beautifully illustrated book aimed at teaching evolution to children. You can grab the book here, and follow Mr. Tweet, here

Last year, I raised money on Kickstarter to self-publish the first book to teach evolution to preschoolers. It’s called Grandmother Fish, and it shipped in September. Since I was publishing a kids’ evolution book, I naturally looked around for other evolution resources that were already available. Godless Mom has offered me the opportunity to share what I’ve found with her readers, so here it is.

Evolution: How We and All Living Things Came to Be, by Daniel Loxton. Ages 8–13.

Great book on the science of evolution. Loxton did the art as well as the text, so it all works together beautifully. Covers answers to common misconceptions and arguments against evolution.

Evolution: The Story of Life, by Douglas Palmer. High school to adult.

The sheer scope of this book makes it a must-have. Spread after spread is a full-color scene from prehistory, from the earliest suggestions of life to prehistoric humans. Page after page, you see the history of life on earth play out. It gave me a greater appreciation for the vast diversity of living things over the last billion years. The art isn’t flashy, but it’s effective, and there’s an insane amount of it. The writing is dense, and there’s nothing kiddie about the book, but it’s filled with illustrations and photos that kids would love to pore over. Best yet, in the US you can buy this $48 book used for under $10, including shipping.

Our Family Tree: An Evolution Story, by Lisa Westberg Peters. Ages 4–7.

This sweet picture book is a lot like Grandmother Fish, but for older kids and with more detail. It recounts our lineage starting with the origin of life itself. Science notes in the back provide a context for the lyrical story. It’s high on folks’ lists of good evolution books.

Little Changes, by Tiffany Taylor. Ages 6–9.

An imaginary species, the rinkidinks, are separated into two populations, each experiencing distinct evolutionary pressures. After many generations, the swimming rinkidinks and climbing rinkidinks hardly look the same anymore. Tackles the difficult concept of natural selection in a fun, rhyming story. Dr Taylor teaches biology at the University of Reading in the UK.

Great Adaptations, by Tiffany Taylor. Ages 8–12.

Illustrated poems describe ten evolutionary findings or concepts. After each poem is a description of the scientific work that it’s based on and the evolutionary scientist involved in that work. The one about the emotional connections among early humans is especially cute, and this poem’s art is also especially cute. Kids love illustrations of happy families. The rhyming nature of the stories means you can read them to younger kids.

Go Extinct! Ages 8+.

This card game is a variant on Go Fish uses our evolutionary family tree. Two hundred years ago, animals were categorized into broad groups, such as “reptile” or “bird.” Today we place each species on a continuously forking evolutionary line of descent, with each species related to the others according to what forks they share. The phylogenetic tree, as it’s called, is like the periodic table of elements except for species. And since it reflects evolutionary history, it’s complex and disorderly. Getting kids to play a game that familiarizes them with the evolutionary tree of life seems like a great way to get them thinking in evolutionary terms. There’s phylogenetic tree in Grandmother Fish, and kids respond strongly to it.  

Understanding Evolution Web Site. For parents.

This academic site is where you turn for expert opinion. If you want to know what your kids should know about evolution at each age, this site will tell you. It includes links to all sorts of resources about evolution. A project of the University of California Museum of Paleontology and the National Center for Science Education.

National Center for Science Education Web Site. For parents.

This organization promotes greater understanding of evolution and climate change. It’s a fine advocacy site for adults, and it has plenty of resources for kids, too.

PBS Web Site. For parents.

PBS is great for science and has an evolution site.

Here’s a high-school-level video that explains natural selection.

Nova site has its own evolution page.

Grandmother Fish, by Jonathan Tweet. Ages 3–7.

My book uses fun motions and sounds to reach younger kids than any other book. Can your kid wiggle like a fish and hoot like an ape? Scientists vetted the details and provided me with the big picture message: we are all related. The end notes provide the scientific background for the story, so parents can be ready to answer their kids’ questions. Endorsed by Steven Pinker, Daniel Dennett, David S. Wilson and others.

This was a guest post from Jonathan Tweet. Jonathan is the author or Grandmother Fish, a beautifully illustrated book aimed at teaching evolution to children. You can grab the book here, and follow Mr. Tweet, here. If you want to be a guest blogger on godlessmom.com, click here.

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