"When a blind beetle crawls over the surface of a curved branch, it doesn’t notice that the track it has covered is indeed curved. I was lucky enough to notice what the beetle didn’t notice,” said Albert Einstein in 1974.
Although Einstein was considered an average student, he had a profound and early understanding of science and mathematics, often seeing things others did not. He spent his days staring at the stars and wondering what made things move, shine, and react. It was his curiosity that propelled him to become one of the greatest scientific minds the world has ever known.
If your child is showing a similar interest in science or if you’d like them to learn more about the premise of the natural world and beyond, books are a great introduction. From tot-sized kitchen experiments to the academic fields of STEM, here are 10 science books for every budding Einstein.
“STEAM: Preschool Activities for STEM Enrichment” by Jamie Hand
At the intersection of an "Aha!" moment is the collision of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, collectively known as STEM. More opportunities are opening in the fields of STEM, which means every child should be exposed to these disciplines early on. “STEAM” introduces kids to STEM, plus art! The book includes 30 activities to enrich preschool learning.
“Tinkerlab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors” by Rachelle Doorley
Kids are natural tinkerers. They love to test boundaries, explore the unknown, and build things with determination. “Tinkerlab” includes 55 creative experiments for kids, including robot designs, secret potions, and artistic science creations. “This book is a glorious invitation for wonder and delight. The teacher in me respects the approach to creativity, process, and self-directed exploration. The mom in me is charmed by the easy-access of materials and projects,” says Lynn Brunelle, author of “Pop Bottle Science.”
“The Curious Kid's Science Book” by Asia Citro
What happens if you water plants with juice? Where can you find bacteria in your house? Is slug slime as strong as a glue stick? “The Curious Kid’s Science Book” has all the answers! The book encourages kids to form their own scientific questions and then find the truth. Each creative activity includes age-appropriate explanations and (when possible) real-life applications of the concepts covered.
“The Kids' Book of Simple Machines” by Kelly Doudna
The wheel and axle. Wedge and screw. An inclined plane. A lever and pulley. These simple machines really do run nearly everything. This book introduces kids to their basic mechanics, including science projects and experiments that they can do at home. Inside, kids will also find biographical spotlights on famous scientists and inventors and a host of other reading delights.
“Science Encyclopedia: Atom Smashing, Food Chemistry, Animals, Space, and More!” by National Geographic Kids
This “Science Encyclopedia” is a comprehensive overview of life and physical sciences from A to Z. The book is packed will full-color images, strange but true facts, experiments, profiles of famous scientists, and more. "Children ages eight to 12 can keep up with the changes happening all around us with this stellar science reference book. Profusely illustrated and thoroughly 'kid friendly' in organization and presentation, 'Science Encyclopedia' is very highly recommended for family, school, and community library collections for young readers,” says Midwest Book Review.
“Naked Eggs and Flying Potatoes: Unforgettable Experiments That Make Science Fun” by Steve Spangler
Celebrity science teacher Steve Spangler, famous for his viral Mentos-soda geyser, has put together a fun and mind-blowing collection of experiments for kids of all ages. Exploding sandwich bags, quicksand goo, and flying toilet paper are just some of the fun projects in “Naked Egg and Flying Potatoes.”
“The Complete Periodic Table: All the Elements with Style” by Adrian Dingle
If your young scientist confuses sodium with sulfur and hydrogen with helium, “The Complete Periodic Table” is the book for her. Each element is given a voice and personality to make learning fun. Although the subject matter is taken seriously, bright illustrations and quirky characters add to the lively experience.
“What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions” by Randall Munroe
What if Einstein didn’t question the speed of light? Or if Copernicus hadn’t wondered if the Earth traveled around the sun? There are so many big, nearly absurd questions, and “What If?” gives serious scientific answers. Kids will discover if fire tornados are possible and whether they can take a swim in a spent-nuclear-fuel pool.
“Munroe has a great sense of subtle humor and irony, and his stick-figure drawings are so simplistic and understated that they add fun to the text. While the textual answers to the posed questions are fairly in-depth and scientific in nature, they are understandable for the non-scientific reader,” says one Amazon reviewer.
“Brilliant Blunders: From Darwin to Einstein” by Mario Livio
Every great mind has had a disastrous day. Drawing on the lives of five legendary scientists: Charles Darwin, William Thomson (Lord Kelvin), Linus Pauling, Fred Hoyle, and Albert Einstein, “Brilliant Blunders” chronicles the many mistakes scientists make in the pursuit of being right and making a game-changing discovery. This is the perfect book for teen readers.
“A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking
Like Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking is recognized as a science pioneer and one of the great minds of our time. In this “New York Times” bestseller (also meant for mature readers) Hawking explores questions like, "How did the universe begin?" and "Does time always flow forward?"
What science books for budding Einsteins would you add to this list? Share in the comments!