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Rocks, Soils and Fossils Topic

Best children’s books about rocks, soils and fossils

The study of rocks is known as geology and is a component of the science curriculum in primary schools. From rock cycles and different soil types to exciting discoveries of important fossils, learning about how the ground beneath our feet can tell us more about the world is a fascinating topic. We’ve put together a list of the best children’s books about rocks, soils and fossils…

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Short chapter books about rocks, soils and fossils

Vashti Hardy
Chapter book

This is the third book in the Harley Hitch series and it works as a standalone. Harley is an excellent role model, as a girl who is into STEM and fascinated by subjects such as palaeontology. She is smart and ecologically aware – and also has great hair!

Children who are starting on their reading journeys often love finding series they can devour and the Harley Hitch books entirely fit the bill. And just because it is aimed at younger readers does not mean they are talked down to – Vashti Hardy uses some great words (‘prodigious’ springs to mind), it is just a shorter and simpler story. The world-building is both imaginative and contains humour. Iron Regis was my particular favourite place name!  Everything is almost like reality, but not quite. George Ermos’s illustrations are lively and amusing and perfectly fit the story. Harley with her purple (sorry, violet) hair springs to life on the page, and the book has an almost cartoon-like quality. In fact, this would make an excellent animated series as it entirely lends itself to visual representation.

 

Berlie Doherty
 & Alexandria Neonakis
Chapter book Dyslexia-friendly
The Queen of Darkness lives deep underground beneath a mountain with her child, Blue John, a boy she made from the blue of the glacier and the hot yellow light of the sun. Blue John is forbidden to leave his mother's side, but the lure of the light above is too strong. When a singing, dancing girl comes to the caves, Blue John must make a choice between darkness and light. A heart-warming story that embraces the beauty and colours of the natural world. High quality cream paper and a special easy to read font ensure a smooth read for all.
Sj King
Chapter book
Learn all about life in the desert with this nature-themed installment of DK's educational fiction series for children aged 7 to 9 years old.Meet the Secret Explorers - a band of brainiac kids from all around the world, here to take young readers on a series of fact-filled fictional adventures! Each with their own specialty, from outer space to dinosaurs, these young globetrotters will teach kids aged 7-9 that learning can be fun, encouraging them to become experts in something they love.In this story, Leah the biology explorer and Cheng the geology expert are sent on a daring mission to a network of caves in India. However, when they get there they realise there's more to this mission than meets the eye. The gripping narrative is filled with scientific facts as the explorers navigate the subterranean world and come across the animals that live there.This epic adventure is packed with:- Fun facts and beautiful subterranean illustrations for kids aged 7-9. - Informative diagrams to make science and nature seem simple. - A summary of all the scientific discoveries made throughout the story. - Quizzes, mission notes, and a glossary of definitions making it the perfect classroom read.Let's explore!The Secret Explorers and the Cave Crisis by SJ King is the perfect gift for children who are interested in all things nature, with information about geology and animals that will stretch the wildest of imaginations.

Longer chapter books about rocks, soils and fossils

Anthea Simmons
Chapter book
Winner of the middle grade STEAM Book Prize, this chapter book is based on the life of fossil hunter Mary Anning.One stormy night, a group of villagers are struck by lightning. The only survivor is a baby - Mary Anning. From that moment on, a spark is lit within her. Growing up poor but proud on the windswept Dorset coast, Mary follows after her father, hunting for fossils uncovered by waves and landslips: ancient creatures, turned to stone. Ignoring other people's taunts, Mary faces danger to bring back valuable treasures to help feed her family. But tragedy and despair is never far away. Mary must depend upon her unique courage and knowledge to fulfil her dream of becoming a scientist in a time when girls have no opportunities for such ambitions.With a factual section about Mary Anning, her life, and the discoveries she made.
Hannah Foley
Chapter book

This is a nuanced and rewarding read combining so many different threads, suitable for mature readers in upper KS2.

After she falls ill, Rosie discovers family secrets buried like layers of fossils in the cliffs. On her journey to recovery, she must sift the past to find the answers, like the palaeontologist Mary Anning on the Jurassic Coast before her. 13-year-old Rosie experiences psychotic episodes. The book sensitively explores mental health and provides an honest depiction of this serious and highly distressing mental condition.

The Tiger who Sleeps Under My Chair is a powerful dual narrative which moves between Rosie’s life in the present day and that of her great-great-grandmother, Emma, as a teen in the late 1800s. This enables us to see the stark contrast between Victorian and modern attitudes around mental health. This historical perspective will be enlightening for younger readers as they are introduced to asylums, confinement, and the notion of mental illness as a weakness – and one that was associated mainly with women.

Other strong themes in the book are friendship and empathy: both Rosie and Emma’s stories centre around the girls and their close circle of friends. We witness the joy of shared experiences, and the succour and the lifeline that true friendship can provide. I particularly enjoyed the friendship between Rosie and Jude; the portrayal of a sensitive and highly-emotionally-intelligent teenage male was absolutely wonderful to see. He radiates empathy and kindness.

The book is set against the backdrop of the Jurassic Coast and its incredible geology. Emma, a talented scientist, is fascinated by fossils, rocks and shells and has a particular interest in the work and discoveries of Mary Anning. Later, inspired by some of her great-great-grandmother’s belongings, Rosie develops a similar interest. In addition, running throughout the story are references to the Indian myth – drawn from Garo folklore – of tiger transformation. This fascinating concept (the belief that a human physically transforms into a tiger) is a means of exploring and representing psychosis.

I loved the dual narrative and the parallels and connections between the two stories: the groups of four friends; the objects which bind characters from the present with those from the past; and the significance of Kersbrook – the family home which acts as a sanctuary to generation after generation. The Tiger who Sleeps Under My Chair made a real impression on me; it’s a powerful and important story, and it’s a book that will stay with me for a long time.

Picturebooks about rocks, soils and fossils

Laurence Anholt
 & Sheila Moxley
Picturebook
Discover the story of Mary Anning, the world's best-known fossil hunter.As a baby, Mary was struck by lightning, then as a little girl she found a fossilised sea monster, the most important prehistoric discovery of its time. This spectacular tale of a little girl who dared to be different and who followed her dreams will inspire young children.Beautiful illustrations and narrative text help children to learn how Mary discovered new fossils - and how her observations rocked the natural history world. Be inspired by Mary's work as a woman in the field of science - especially as her achievements weren't recognised until after her death.Perfect for kids interested in dinosaurs and rocks, and for parents looking for strong female role models in science.
Kate Winter
Non-fiction

The Fossil Hunter by Kate Winter is a gem of a book. It is a splendid addition for any child learning about Mary Anning, fossils, dinosaurs and what life was like for a working-class woman 200 years ago. The book is hardback, large and begins with a timeline of Mary Anning’s life with page numbers corresponding to different eras.

This eye-catching book is full of facts and perfect to dip into or read altogether. Topics are highlighted such as the challenge of being a woman, where recognition for scientific discovery did not happen and the unfairness of this, and why her story is important. Text is broken up into sections; there are very few large sections of text and is therefore inclusive for all types of readers. The glossary at the end of the book is accessible and interesting. Every page has watercolour illustrations which can spread across whole pages and there are beautiful panoramic fold-out pages where you find out more facts about fossils, dinosaurs or a look into Mary’s cabinet.

This is a great book to share with children (or any age!) about the inspirational Mary Anning and highly recommendable.

Children's non-fiction books about rocks, soils and fossils

Rob Wilsher
 & Sophie Williams
Non-fiction

Stones and Bones: Fossils and the Stories They Tell is a captivating non-fiction text, perfect for independent readers in UKS2. Its curriculum links to rocks and soils and the Stone Age makes it a good text for teachers or parents to read aloud to younger readers.

Stones and Bones is like having a friendly guide to show you around Earth’s past. You’ll learn how fossils are made and what life was like during different periods of history. Each page is full of exciting discoveries waiting to be uncovered. It is full of stunning illustrations, accessible language and rich content, making it sure to ignite a spark of curiosity for Natural History.

With amazing pictures that make dinosaurs and ancient worlds come alive, this book is packed with fun facts and cool stories.

Dianna Hutts Aston
 & Sylvia Long
Non-fiction
This is the perfect accompaniment to a rocks and soils topic. This beautifully illustrated non-fiction text showcases different types of rocks and gemstones in all their splendour, using the stunning pictures as a way in to explaining the science behind how they appear. If it never occurred to you to appreciate how beautiful rocks can be, it will after reading this!
Charlotte Guillian
 & Yuval Zommer
Non-fiction

A beautiful fold-out book that showcases the wonders of the earth beneath our feet and one with real wow-factor.

As a teacher, I used it to introduce Year 3’s ‘Under Our Feet’ topic and there were gasps from the children. Sublimely illustrated, its concertina-style pages fold out into a long cross-section of the Earth: in one side and out the other. It contains a wealth of information about geology and science – linking to topics of rocks and soils and awesome earth  – and opportunities for further questions from curious young minds.

Just stunning.

Kirsty Holmes
Non-fiction
There's so much to see up here on the street, but it's even more interesting under our feet! This informative title looks at our ancestors, and what their ancient bones tell us about the living, breathing people they were. From stone age man to a terracotta army, we know ourselves because we know the people under our feet.
Royal Horticultural Society (DK IPL)
Non-fiction

From the moment you touch the wonderfully textured cover of ‘Under Your Feet’, you realise that you are on a sensory journey of discovery.

The book, created in conjunction with The Royal Horticultural Society, gives children the chance to really ‘dig deep’ into life under the soil. Dr Jackie Stroud’s comprehensive knowledge of the subject matter (she has a twitter handle worth following – @wormscience) gives the book the level of detail and understanding without overwhelming younger readers. It is clear that she has a passion for soil which shines through every lovingly researched page.

When you open the book, each double-page spread details a different aspect of soil and our relationship with it; from information on why we need soil to looking at soil around the world (there’s even a couple of pages about soil in outer space!). The information is written in a very accessible style, with small captions dotted around each page and a useful glossary at the back.

The illustrations make this book particularly engaging. As you can imagine, a book about soil will have a colour palette of browns, greens and oranges. The illustrator, Wenjia Tang, has used pencil drawings, combined with photographs to create gorgeous images that give the reader a sense of what the world under our feet truly feels like.

For those children who enjoy getting their hands dirty, there are ideas for practical activities, such as making a ‘microbe meal’ in a sock! It is a great resource and would be perfect for accompanying geographical or environmental topics, as well as forest school in KS1 or lower KS2.


Emily Dodd
 & Robbie Cathro
Non-fiction
Discover how geology is part of our daily lives with Everyday STEM Science - Geology. Explore the wonders of Earth and see how geology is all around us, from natures materials that are used to build roads and buildings to the minerals found in your mobile phone and drinks can. Witness a volcanic eruption, find out if there is water on Mars, unearth a dinosaur and meet the geologists and scientists who brought geology to life. Readers can also carry out geology experiments at home. With easy-to-understand text written by Emily Dodd, fun callouts and lots of colourful artworks, photos, and diagrams, readers can best explore where we encounter geology and why it's even important at all.
Jacqui Bailey
 & Matthew Lilly
Non-fiction
This series uses cartoon-style illustrations and humorous narrative text to make key topics in Science and Geography accessible and engaging. This approach encourages children to read about and understand complex ideas. This is the story of how a special sort of stone formed deep inside the Earth, and came to the surface thousands of millions of years later. The Rock Factory looks at how minerals turn into rock crystals, how the Earth is structured and how volcanoes happen. This book also contains an experiment, useful websites and an index.

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