It’s been a while since we added general knowledge books to the collection of books we have at home, so I’ve been looking into a few series to add to G1’s reading list that he might enjoy. The following books came highly recommended.
The Story of Science
In the three-book The Story of Science series, master storyteller Joy Hakim narrates the evolution of scientific thought from ancient times to the present. With lively, character-driven narrative, Hakim spotlights the achievements of some of the world’s greatest scientists and encourages a similar spirit of inquiry in readers. The books include hundreds of color photographs, charts, maps, and diagrams; informative sidebars; suggestions for further reading; and excerpts from the writings of great scientists.
- The Story of Science: Aristotle Leads the Way: Aristotle Leads the Way – travel back in time to ancient Babylonia, Egypt, and Greece and meet the world’s first astronomers, mathematicians, and physicists. Explore the lives and ideas of famous people as Pythagoras, Archimedes, Brahmagupta, al-Khwarizmi, Fibonacci, Ptolemy, St. Augustine, and St. Thomas Aquinas. Hakim will introduce them to Aristotle—one of the greatest philosophers of all time—whose scientific ideas dominated much of the world for eighteen centuries.
- The Story of Science: Newton at the Center: Newton at the Center – watch as Copernicus’s systematic observations place the sun at the center of our universe—to the dismay of establishment thinkers. After students follow the achievements and frustrations of Galileo, Kepler, and Descartes, they will appreciate the amazing Isaac Newton, whose discoveries about gravity, motion, colors, calculus, and Earth’s place in the universe set the stage for modern physics, astronomy, mathematics, and chemistry.
- The Story of Science: Einstein Adds a New Dimension – look over Albert Einstein’s shoulder as he and his colleagues develop a new kind of physics. It leads in two directions: to knowledge of the vast universe and its future (insights build on Einstein’s theories of relativity), and to an understanding of the astonishingly small subatomic world (the realm of quantum physics). Students will learn why relativity and quantum theory revolutionized our world and led to the most important ideas in modern science, maybe of all time.
The Story of the World
This four-volume narrative history series for elementary students will transform the study of history. Having won awards from numerous homeschooling magazines and readers’ polls, I figure it must be quite a read. Hopefully, those reviews are children’s feedback and not the adults.
- Volume 1: Ancient Times: From the Earliest Nomads to the Last Roman Emperor – What terrible secret was buried in Shi Huangdi’s tomb? Did nomads like lizard stew? What happened to Anansi the Spider in the Village of the Plantains? And how did a six-year-old become the last emperor of Rome? Africa, China, Europe, the Americas―find out what happened all around the world in long-ago times. This first revised volume begins with the earliest nomads and ends with the last Roman emperor.
- Volume 2: The Middle Ages: From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of the Renaissance – Who discovered chocolate? What happened to the giant Fovor of the Mighty Blows? Why did the Ottoman Turks drag their warships across dry land? This volume covers the major historical events in the years 400 to 1600 CE.
- Volume 3: Early Modern Times – Who was the Sun King? Why did the Luddites go around England smashing machines? And how did samurai become sumo wrestlers? This volume covers the major historical events in the years 1600 to 1850.
- Volume 4: The Modern Age: From Victoria’s Empire to the End of the USSR – Where was the Crystal Palace? Who was the Sick Man of Europe? And how did cow fat start a revolution? Written in an engaging, straightforward manner, the final volume of the popular Story of the World series weaves world history into a storybook format, covering major historical events in the years 1850-2000. From the Middle East and China to Africa and the Americas―find out what happened all around the world in the last century and a half.
Giants of Science
- Isaac Newton – the man with an imagination so large that just by thinking on it, he invented calculus and figured out the scientific explanation of gravity.
- Albert Einstein – the man whose name has become a synonym for genius. His wild case of bedhead and playful sense of humor made him a media superstar—the first, maybe only, scientist-celebrity. He wasn’t much for lab work; in fact, he had a tendency to blow up experiments. What he liked to do was think, not in words but in “thought experiments”. What was the result of all his thinking? Nothing less than the overturning of Newtonian physics.
- Leonardo da Vinci – his notebooks are mind-boggling evidence of a fifteenth-century scientific genius standing at the edge of the modern world, basing his ideas on observation and experimentation. This book will change children’s ideas of who Leonardo was and what it means to be a scientist.
- Benjamin Franklin – a famous colonial inventor and multitasker who may be best remembered as one of America’s Founding Fathers. But he was also a “natural philosopher” (the term for scientists back in the 1700s), whose experiments led to important discoveries about the nature of electricity—including his famous demonstration that electricity and lightning were one and the same.
- Marie Curie – the woman who coined the term radioactivity, won not just one Nobel Prize but two, in physics and chemistry, both supposedly girl-phobic sciences.
- Sigmund Freud – the man who essentially created a brand-new branch of medicine: psychoanalysis.
- Charles Darwin – All his life, Charles Darwin hated controversy. Yet he takes his place among the Giants of Science for what remains an immensely controversial subject: the theory of evolution. Darwin began piecing together his explanation for how all living things change or adapt during his five-year voyage on HMS Beagle. But it took him twenty years to go public, for fear of the backlash his theory would cause.
George’s Key to the Universe
Written by science educator Lucy Hawking and her father – the most famous scientist in the world – and illustrated by Garry Parsons, George’s Secret Key to the Universe will take you on a rollercoaster ride through space to discover the mysteries of our universe.
- George’s Secret Key to the Universe – George’s pet pig breaks through the fence into the garden next door – introducing him to his new neighbours: the scientist, Eric, his daughter, Annie, and a super-intelligent computer called Cosmos. And from that moment George’s life will never be the same again, for Cosmos can open a portal to any point in outer space.
- George’s Cosmic Treasure Hunt – George’s best friend Annie needs help. Her scientist father, Eric, is working on a space project – and it’s all going wrong. A robot has landed on Mars, but is behaving very oddly. And now Annie has discovered something weird on her dad’s super-computer. Is it a message from an alien? Could there be life out there? How do you find a planet in outer space? And if you could talk to aliens, what would you say?
- George and the Big Bang – A deadly bomb is ticking. The whole world is watching. Can George stop the second big bang?
- George and the Unbreakable Code – Seriously strange things start happening. Banks are handing out free money; supermarkets can’t charge for their produce so people are getting free food; and aircraft are refusing to fly. It looks like the world’s biggest and best computers have all been hacked. George and Annie will travel further into space than ever before in order to find out who is behind it.
- George and the Blue Moon – George and his best friend, Annie have been selected as junior astronauts – part of a programme that trains up young people for a trip to Mars in the future. This is everything they’ve ever wanted – they get to be a part of up-to-the minute space discoveries and meet a bunch of new friends who are as fascinated by the universe as they are.
These books are so beautiful, I just want to add them to my library because they look pretty. Unfortunately, they cost quite a bit, too. At over RM100 for each book and eleven books in the series, it’s almost like buying a set of encyclopedias. Given how hefty the books must weigh, I thought G1 might do better with a Kindle set. Unfortunately, there is no Kindle edition (yet?), so maybe we’ll have to leave this for later, after we’ve worked our way through the other books.
Recommended for age 8 and up, this series of books provides an overview of 250 milestones in history on some of the most important discoveries and creations in the history of our world.
- The Biology Book – From the emergence of life, to Leewenhoek’s microscopic world, to GMO crops, The Biology Book presents 250 landmarks in the most widely studied scientific field. Brief, engaging, and colorfully illustrated synopses introduce readers to every major subdiscipline, including cell theory, genetics, evolution, physiology, thermodynamics, molecular biology, and ecology. With information on such varied topics as paleontology, pheromones, nature vs. nurture, DNA fingerprinting, bioenergetics, and so much more, this lively collection will engage everyone who studies and appreciates the life sciences.
- The Chemistry Book – From atoms and fluorescent pigments to sulfa drug synthesis and buckyballs, this lush and authoritative chronology presents 250 milestones in the world of chemistry. As the “central science” that bridges biology and physics, chemistry plays an important role in countless medical and technological advances. Covering entertaining stories and unexpected applications, chemist and journalist Derek B. Lowe traces the most important—and surprising—chemical discoveries.
- The Physics Book – Following the hugely successful The Science Book and The Math Book comes a richly illustrated chronology of physics, containing 250 short, entertaining, and thought-provoking entries. In addition to exploring such engaging topics as dark energy, parallel universes, the Doppler effect, the God particle, and Maxwell’s demon, the book’s timeline extends back billions of years to the hypothetical Big Bang and forward trillions of years to a time of “quantum resurrection.” Like the previous titles in this series, The Physics Book helps readers gain an understanding of major concepts without getting bogged down in complex details.
- The Medical Book – Following his hugely successful The Math Book and The Physics Book, Clifford Pickover now chronicles the advancement of medicine in 250 entertaining, illustrated landmark events. Touching on such diverse subspecialties as genetics, pharmacology, neurology, sexology, and immunology, Pickover intersperses “obvious” historical milestones–the Hippocratic Oath, general anesthesia, the Human Genome Project–with unexpected and intriguing topics like “truth serum,” the use of cocaine in eye surgery, and face transplants.
- The Engineering Book – Engineering is where human knowledge meets real-world problems—and solves them. It’s the source of some of our greatest inventions, from the catapult to the jet engine. Marshall Brain, creator of the How Stuff Works series and a professor at the Engineering Entrepreneurs Program at NCSU, provides a detailed look at 250 milestones in the discipline. He covers the various areas, including chemical, aerospace, and computer engineering, from ancient history to the present. The topics include architectural wonders like the Acropolis, the Great Wall of China, and the Eiffel Tower; transportation advances such as the high-speed bullet train; medical innovations, including the artificial heart and kidney dialysis; developments in communications, such as the cell phone; as well as air conditioning, Wi-Fi, the Large Hadron Collider, the self-driving car, and more.
- The Space Book – We live in a truly golden age of astronomy and space exploration that may allow us to unravel some of the biggest mysteries of all: How did the Universe begin? Are there other Earth-like planets out there? Are we alone? The Space Book is a gateway into these kinds of questions—and more—for anyone interested in the worlds beyond our planet. Expanding the series that began with the highly successful volumes The Science Book and The Math Book, astronomer and planetary scientist Jim Bell presents 250 of the most groundbreaking astronomical events, from the formation of galaxies to the recent discovery of water ice on Mars. Beautiful photographs or illustrations accompany each entry. Open the book to any page to discover some new wonder or mystery about the Universe around us.
- The Drug Book – Throughout history, humans everywhere have searched for remedies to heal our bodies and minds. Covering everything from ancient herbs to cutting-edge chemicals, this book in the hugely popular Milestones series looks at 250 of the most important moments in the development of life-altering, life-saving, and sometimes life-endangering pharmaceuticals. Illustrated entries feature ancient drugs like alcohol, opium, and hemlock; the smallpox and the polio vaccines; homeopathic cures; and controversial medical treatments like ether, amphetamines, and Xanax—while shining a light on the scientists, doctors, and companies who brought them to us.
- The Math Book – Math’s infinite mysteries unfold in this paperback edition of the bestselling TheMath Book. Beginning millions of years ago with ancient “ant odometers” and moving through time to our modern-day quest for new dimensions, prolific polymath Clifford Pickover covers 250 milestones in mathematical history. Among the numerous concepts readers will encounter as they dip into this inviting anthology: cicada-generated prime numbers, magic squares, and the butterfly effect. Each topic is presented in a lavishly illustrated spread, including formulas and real-world applications of the theorems.
- The Law Book – Which was the last country to abolish slavery? Which is the only amendment to the U.S. Constitution ever to be repealed? How did King Henry II of England provide a procedural blueprint for criminal law? These are just a few of the thought-provoking questions addressed in this beautifully illustrated book. Join author Michael H. Roffer as he explores 250 of the most fundamental, far-reaching, and often-controversial cases, laws, and trials that have profoundly changed our world—for good or bad. Offering authoritative context to ancient documents as well as today’s hot-button issues, The Law Book presents a comprehensive look at the rules by which we live our lives. It covers such diverse topics as the Code of Hammurabi, the Ten Commandments, the Trial of Socrates, the Bill of Rights, women’s suffrage, the insanity defense, and more. Roffer takes us around the globe to ancient Rome and medieval England before transporting us forward to contemporary accounts that tackle everything from civil rights, surrogacy, and assisted suicide to the 2000 U.S. presidential election, Google Books, and the fight for marriage equality. Organized chronologically, the entries each consist of a short essay and a stunning full-color image, while the “Notes and Further Reading” section provides resources for more in-depth study. Justice may be blind, but this collection brings the rich history of the law to light.
- The Psychology Book – What could be more fascinating than the workings of the human mind? This stunningly illustrated survey in Sterling’s Milestones series chronicles the history of psychology through 250 landmark events, theories, publications, experiments, and discoveries. Beginning with ancient philosophies of well-being, it touches on such controversial topics as phrenology, sexual taboos, electroshock therapy, multiple personality disorder, and the nature of evil.
- The Philosophy Book – Philosophy explores the deepest, most fundamental questions of reality—and this accessible and entertaining chronology presents 250 milestones of the most important theories, events, and seminal publications in the field over the last 3,500 years. The brief, engaging entries cover a range of topics and cultures, from the Hindu Vedas and Plato’s theory of forms to Ockham’s Razor, Pascal’s Wager, Hume’s A Treatise of Human Nature, existentialism, feminism, Philosophical Zombies, and the Triple Theory of Ethics. Beautifully illustrated and filled with unexpected insights, The Philosophy Book will appeal to a wide spectrum of readers.
- Reading for Fun: G1’s Reading List
- Reading for Fun: G2’s Reading List
- The Magic Tree House Collection
- The Magic School Bus
- Books for Children: Basher Books on Science, Math, Music, and English
- Teaching Your Child About Famous Historical Figures
- History Resources: Horrible Histories Collection
- Raising Readers: Reading for Pleasure