Charles Darwin & Evolution
best children's books

Below is a compilation of the best books on Charles Darwin and Evolution for children in K-Grade 8. Many children's books wisely use the life of Charles Darwin to explain evolution to the reader, while others take a more direct approach.

It remains to be seen where this subject will end up in the new national science common core (which, as of the date which we created this page, is still under development.) However, current science standards of many states include this subject in upper elementary and middle school, so we've compiled this list to help those teachers integrate children's books into their curriculum.

This is a controversial subject. We took great care to select only those books that depict Darwin's life and describe his theory in a factual manner (as opposed to books trying to passionately persuade the reader.) We think the following books will help students understand this challenging subject while also helping the teacher avoid any controversial ground.

Books on Charles Darwin
and Evolution for kids

Who Was Charles

(kid-friendly intro to the
life of Charles Darwin)
by Deborah Hopkinson

2nd grade - 5th grade

Life on Earth
the story of evolution--full
of stunning paper collages

by Steve Jenkins
3rd grade - 6th grade

Darwin: with Glimpses
into his Private
Journal and Letters

(bio highlights his curiosity
and determination to learn)

by Alice McGinty
2nd grade - 5th grade

What Darwin Saw
The Journey That Changed
the World
(comic book
format biography)
by Rosalyn Schanzer

3rd grade - 6th grade

One Beetle Too Many
(biography with comical
illustrations, lest kids
think of Darwin as
another stuffy old scientist)
by Kathryn Lasky

3rd grade - 6th grade

Our Family Tree
(traces 'our' family tree
unicellular organisms
to modern
by Lisa Westberg Peters
4th grade - 8th grade

Charles Darwin
and the Beagle

(scrapbook-format bio)
by AJ Wood

4th grade - 8th grade

Charles Darwin
(well written, witty
biography, part of the
Giants of Science series)

by Kathleen Krull
5th grade & Up

Voyage of the Beetle
(Darwin's journeys narrated
by a beetle named Rosie
who travels with Darwin)

by Anne Weaver

4th grade & up

The Tree of Life
(biography largely told through
intricate, packed illustrations)
by Peter Sis
Grade 4 & Up

DK Eyewitness Evolution
(great resource with TONS of
info on evolution for kids via
trademark packed spreads)
by Linda Hamlin

6th grade & Up

Monkey Town: The Summer of the Scopes Trial

Monkey Town
(retelling of the 1925 Scopes
"Monkey Trial" through the
eyes of a 15-year-old girl)

by Ronald Kidd
6th grade & Up

Charles and Emma
The Darwins' Leap of
Faith (Darwin's personal
life and its role on
his scientific discoveries)
by Deborah Heiligman
8th grade & Up

Darwin and
Evolution for Kids

His Life and Ideas with
21 Activities

by Kristan Lawson
5th grade - 9th grade

The True Adventures
of Charley Darwin

(part adventure, part bio
about Darwin's life from
childhood to the Beagle)
by Carolyn Meyer

6th grade - 10th grade

Why use children's books when teaching about Charles Darwin and Evolution?

Evolution is a particularly challenging subject for children to understand given the vast amounts of time involved. Indeed, the year between their birthdays often feels like an eternity! And, kids get confused by the idea that the adaptations are not conscious decisions, but rather due to survival of the fittest. Many teachers find it challenging to even choose the right words to explain this subject in age-appropriate ways. That's where children's books can be a great help. These books are full of illustrations and diagrams specifically created to aid young children in understanding this subject and explanations are carefully worded to maximize understanding at this young level.

Additionally, many children's books wisely use the life of Charles Darwin to explain evolution to the reader. Children often learn best through story, so using the story of how Charles Darwin developed the theory of evolution to actually teach the theory of evolution is an excellent method for aiding comprehension. The list above includes many excellent, kid-friendly biographies of Charles Darwin.

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