Good science/history/etc. books for capable 10 year old reader?
September 4, 2018 2:31 PM   Subscribe

Kiddo is in 5th grade, reads at 10th grade levels. He adores and romps through the DK Eyewitness kids' books. Any recommendations for similar book series suitable 9th/10th graders that may lead him further onward? Bonus if cheap used copies are easily available. Thank you!
posted by carter to Science & Nature (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Insect Lives Is a great anthology of insect science and some light biography of entomologists. It has chapters from the Bible, Dave Barry, Charles Darwin and May Berenbaum, so it should be pretty entertaining for budding minds, and it spans a lot of history.
posted by SaltySalticid at 3:14 PM on September 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

What about all the collections of Steven Jay Gould's essays for Natural History (starting with The Panda's Thumb)? There's lots of them, and while they're written for adults, they're magazine articles so they don't assume a lot of prior knowledge, and they cover a lot of random entertaining ground. I bet there are copies of them all on ABEbooks for a buck or so each.
posted by LizardBreath at 3:27 PM on September 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

Print version of Carl Sagan's 'Cosmos' is good, lots of used copies about.

Bill Bryson's 'A Short History of Nearly Everything' is slightly ahead of the curve, but might be handy to have available for when the time is right.

(When I was that age, I was looking at Time/Life Science Library a lot. It's out of fashion these days)
posted by ovvl at 4:24 PM on September 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Any of Larry Gonick's "Cartoon History" books, specifically the Cartoon History of the Modern World series and The Cartoon History of the United States (which helped me get through AP US History back in high school).
posted by Rhaomi at 4:37 PM on September 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Maybe a copy of one of the editions of The Way Things Work? It describes how everything from levers to nuclear reactors to computers work. The first edition came out when I was a child, I carry some of the explanations with me to this day. Also because it has multiple editions you can find a used copy pretty cheap.
posted by zabuni at 6:36 PM on September 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Gombrich's A Little History of the World is literally this.

Wikipedia: "Leonie Gombrich explains in the book's introduction that Gombrich, writing the last phases of his doctoral thesis, corresponded with the young daughter of some friends, who wanted to know what he was spending all of his time on at work. It was a great pleasure for Gombrich to explain his doctoral work to the girl, using only words and concepts that children could understand."
posted by Gotanda at 7:26 PM on September 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Dawkins' The Magic of Reality is really excellent and ties together history and science. I think it would still probably introduce him to new concepts even if he's read through all the DK Eyewitness books.
posted by Polychrome at 1:16 AM on September 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

You absolutely have to get him Joy Hakim's United States history A History of US. It's aimed at a middle-school audience so mostly shouldn't be too difficult for him to read, but it's a great read even for adults. Plenty of cheap used copies. (It's 10 volumes, so you can start by just getting the first and seeing if he likes it.)

She's also written a series on science, but I haven't seen it.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 5:43 AM on September 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Thanks so much everyone, this is like wandering into a really cool book store!
posted by carter at 1:44 PM on September 5, 2018

Everything You Need to Ace World History in One Big Fat Notebook, and the other books in the series.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:22 PM on September 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

If your kid (like mine) is into detailed illustrations & explanations of interesting stuff, try any of Kate Ascher's books (The Works, The Heights, & The Way to Go). Also seconding The Way Things Work, along with anything else by David Macauley.
posted by wps98 at 6:46 PM on September 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

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