Introducing Darwin to kids (Books for Secular Families)

“It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us.”

So begins the final paragraph of Darwin’s The Origin of the Species. It hardly seems like the stuff of children’s literature, and yet those words are the text of a picture book called The Riverbank.  The author is listed as Charles Darwin since the only text in the book is his, and the illustrator is a Brit named Fabian Negrin.  As you might imagine, the illustrations take center stage in this interpretation of Darwin’s words.  They follow a young boy exploring the natural world around a river.  I appreciate the review of the book in Children’s Literature:

“It is hard to imagine a youngster snuggled up with a loving adult and listening attentively to the words the pictures illustrate. But the illustrations are so lovely that they will certainly lead to conversations in the spirit of the text about the wonder of life on a riverbank where so many species live in a common environment, dependent on each other for survival, descended from a simpler form of life and evolving with each generation.”

Pair it with one of the many great biographies of Darwin for kids–my favorites are by Peter Sis and Kathleen Krull–to introduce Darwin and his groundbreaking theory to kids in upper elementary or middle school.


More book recommendations about science on the For Secular Families page.

Author: Mindy R

I'm a librarian, writer, book reviewer, etc.

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