Evolution, the controversy for kids

A recent Gallup poll highlighted the fact that belief in evolution among Americans is rising.  From the link:

Four in 10 Americans, slightly fewer today than in years past, believe God created humans in their present form about 10,000 years ago. Thirty-eight percent believe God guided a process by which humans developed over millions of years from less advanced life forms, while 16%, up slightly from years past, believe humans developed over millions of years, without God’s involvement.

Interestingly I recently read two children’s books on this subject.  First I read Octavia Boone’s Big Questions About Life, the Universe, and Everything.  The title caught my eye, and the dedication “For Freethinkers Everywhere” piqued my interest even more.   It isn’t directly about evolution as much as it is about the family dynamics involved when Octavia’s mom converts to a very particular brand of Christianity.  Octavia is a science-minded kid, and she doesn’t believe any of what her mother tries to teach her.   As you might imagine from the dedication, the author is coming from a position of bias against religion, and I think it shows.  I mean, how many other children’s books reference Russell’s Celestial Teapot?  As a result, I think the book will primarily be read among those who are already similarly biased against religion and their children.  Not that I think that’s a bad thing.  I actually wonder why there aren’t more children’s books aimed at the growing group of secularist families.

The other book I read on this subject was Mary Mae and the Gospel Truth.  This book had a slightly different approach, and it was more directly focused on evolution.  Mary Mae and her family are strict Christians, who balk at being taught evolution in school.  Well, Mary Mae is secretly enjoying her science class more and more as they delve into fossils, dinosaurs, etc.  She also appreciates that her science teacher always has answers for her while her Sunday school teachers keep brushing off her questions about creation and Noah’s Ark.   In the end, Mary Mae and her family learn that various members of their church believe different things regarding evolution, and they decide to keep their minds open.  A happy ending certainly.  But it wasn’t the ending I was expecting.  Also, I was distracted by the word “titties,” which seemed out of place in a children’s book about a religious family.  *shrug*

The best book on this subject, by far, is for slightly older audiences than either Octavia or Mary Mae.  If you are a teen, a parent of a teen, or someone who works with teens and you haven’t read Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande, you are missing out.  It is an excellent look at “the controversy” no matter what you believe.

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5 thoughts on “Evolution, the controversy for kids

  1. Great post, Mindy! This is a theme I’ve not come across much in children’s literature (in part because it’s not something I ever expected to see). Nonetheless, I’m glad there are books covering this point of view. Plus, I know the illustrator of the cover for “Mary Mae” (Kelly Murphy), and it’s really cool to recognize her work here.

  2. So…is the author of *Mary Mae* suggesting that “the jury is still out” (to paraphrase Bush) on the creation/evolution debate?

    Also, is the school teacher really depicted as having all the answers? From my experience, the appeal of science over religion is that those who teach science are willing to say “sometimes we just don’t know.”

    • Yeah, the book kind of leaves it at “Let’s learn about evolution and see what we think.” Which is better than at the beginning of the book when Mary Mae’s mom tries to homeschool her with just the Bible.

      And, yes… the science teacher gives her answers and the Sunday school teachers basically just get annoyed with her. I would have really liked to see the science teacher say “we don’t know yet.”

      I’ll be watching for more books on this subject though.

      • Yeah, you’re right – saying “let’s explore this some more” is definitely a step in the right direction.
        I think I may have to check out this book for myself. Thanks!

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