The Sciences

Evolution for kids

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitFeb 3, 2010 6:21 PM


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We're having a big problem in America these days, with the forces of antireality on the march to deceive our children. Evolution is a big target for them, of course, and I need not belabor the battle here. But what can we do? We need to excite kids about the real world, and about evolution in particular. And we need to do it in a wonderful way, grabbing their attention, staying positive, and revealing all the beauty and majesty of the way life has self-propagated on this planet of ours. Daniel Loxton has come to the rescue! He's the brain behind Skeptic Magazine's Junior Skeptic, a terrific feature designed to get young kids thinking. His experience putting that together is clear in his new book, Evolution: How We and All Living Things Came to Be. This book has everything for younger readers: excellent writing, simple yet compelling layout, and a diversity of topics in evolution and its related studies which give the reader a solid background in evolutionary biology. That's critical, as it gives them a basis on which they can build when they read more about the topic. And Daniel covers a lot of topics, like transitional fossils, population growth, diversity of species, how we know that life changes over time, mutations, natural selection, and more. He even deals simply and efficiently with the topic of religion at the very end, telling the reader to talk to family, friends, and religious leaders about it. While I might disagree with him a bit (really, just a bit) over the boundaries of religion and science we've had a few discussion on Twitter about this -- I think he deals with the topic elegantly in the book. After all, the book isn't about religion, and instead of being arrogant or dismissive, he relies on the book itself being an effective treatment of the topic. I think that was a shrewd move. And I simply cannot praise the illustrations enough, which were done by Daniel himself. WOW! The drawings are simply magnificent; the Archeopteryx on the cover will grab any kid's attention, as will the gorgeous T-Rex on the first page. My favorite drawing was this one, which he also uses as a banner for the book:

It shows two women of different eras, and it beautifully demonstrates our similarities and differences. And the woman on the right is an actual human -- Daniel's wife! -- something of a well-known skeptic herself. I bet if you come to TAM with a copy of the book, you can find her yourself and get both her and Daniel to sign it... I think this book is absolutely terrific, and if you're looking for a simple statement about it, then how about this? Simply put, I would've loved this book when I was a kid. It would have made me want to be a scientist.You can get buy a copy of Evolution through the website, or if you donate $100 they'll send you a copy for free. I know, it's not really free then, but you'll be helping out a good group of skeptics, so it's a good thing to do. If you prefer, it's also available on Amazon and My suggestion: buy several copies and give them away as gifts to kids. And maybe one for your local school as well. I know they could use it there.

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