Geology books for kids

This week, a friend tweeted this at me: Any recommendations on a good geology book for a second grader? I heard, “Dad, I want to be a geologist,” today. #proudpapa

Once I finished cheering, I sat down in front of my geology bookcase to take stock. For years, my mother has picked up random children’s books about geology for me. I don’t have any kids, but it’s sort of interesting, sometimes fun, and often painful, to see how geology is addressed in books meant for the younger crowd. Here’s my current stash, all donated from mom, and with an obvious volcano-bias (given my own research interests):

Some books do a great job of explaining processes, and give some activities to help them understand (like making a core sample with clay), while others distill things down to be so over-simplified that I want to write letters of correction, and still others tell stories about big geologic events. There are a LOT of Pompeii books out there, and according to my teacher-friend, these are a big hit in the classroom (explosions! death! people running from clouds of ash!)

But when it comes down to which I would recommend for my friend’s second grader, I choose carefully from my stash and add a few that I would seek out, were I to raise my own team of mini-volcanologists.

1. Every kid should have a basic rock and mineral ID book. The DK Pockets are pretty great – full of actual photographs, these have an interesting layout, and are small enough for your kid to carry around while on a hike or just wandering the neighborhood. They’re releasing a new one that looks cool in May, 2012. The Smithsonian Handbook version is a little bigger, and less portable, but really awesome.

2. This thin Smithsonian paperback has some nice summaries and photographs of actual volcanoes and their recent eruptions – cheap, and a nice way to relate to the world around you.

3. I like this general Volcanoes and Earthquakes book by Eldridge Moores at UC Davis (large, with red border in my stash photo) which is part of the TimeLife series, of all things – it’s hard to find (I’m glad I have one!) though Powell’s has a few. It’s possible Ken Rubin’s book is similar and quite good (he’s a respected scientist), though I’ve never seen it in person. This DK Eyewitness is similar, too – lots of photos, stories about earth-related myths, as well as actual science.

4. To learn about the region in which you’re raising your kiddo, you could try the “Geology of…” series. The text is a little advanced, and there are a lot of cartoony drawings, but they have some nice activities that, as a parent, you could use to teach some things about the geology around you.

5. The Step into Reading Series has a fairly well-done Pompeii story for grades 2-3, among other earth-science related titles.

There are some nice online introductions too, like the Smithsonian’s interactive Dynamic Earth site, but I’m a big fan of starting with paper. This is by no means a comprehensive list – I’m sure there are great books out there more focused on rivers, or dinosaurs, or glacial till. Do you have favorite earth science books for kids? Let us know in the comments!


5 Comments on “Geology books for kids”

  1. Andy Frassetto says:

    I can personally vouch for that Pompeii book, which I had as a kid. I can’t believe it’s still in print, but based on it’s quality I guess it’s not that surprising.

  2. Gina says:

    Thank you, have just ordered the Dk Pocket Guide as a starter for my home ed kids who are desperate to learn about Geology.

    • Jennifer says:

      That’s great! I hope they enjoy it. I also recommend finding a local guide for your state, and taking some walks/hikes!

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