BooksforTopics Reading for Pleasure Recommendations
Book Title: Charles Darwin's On The Origin Of Species (available here)
Author/Illustrator: Sabena Radeva
Publisher: Penguin Random House UK
Publication Date: February 2019
Most Suitable For: KS2
Reviewed By: Caroline Wood (@seawoodwrites), Library Manager
This is the book on evolution for children that I have been looking for for years! Even when you know the subject well as an adult, it's difficult to translate the concepts into child-friendly language. Sabena Radeva has done an excellent job both in the writing and the beautiful illustrations and diagrams throughout the book and I will certainly be stocking it in our school library as soon as possible (I think I've also found “that book” that I'll be giving as a present for years to come!).
The text is both clear and brief, meaning that this complex topic doesn't overwhelm young readers, but it also offers rich vocabulary which can be explored via the glossary or in class. The book uses a mixed style of writing - prose in short paragraphs, speech bubbles, and labelled drawings, which makes it attractive to all abilities. It's a book you could read straight through like a story, or spend hours poring over like an encyclopaedia – or both! I can see Radeva's interpretation of Darwin being hugely popular in class libraries, one of those rare books which all children can get something from and talk about.
The artwork is truly lovely, keeping the same style for both pictures and diagrams which makes it coherent overall. Scattered throughout are illustrated quotes of Darwin's original words – these provide a challenge for the more advanced reader, and could easily be used as a discussion topic in class or a focal point for a display.
Finally, the book includes not only a useful glossary but a section detailing how our modern knowledge of genetics expands and confirms Darwin's work, along with a page on misconceptions. I must also mention the endpapers, so often overlooked – both front and back contain a wealth of insects for children to look out for and hone their skills as naturalists.
I think this book could be used easily throughout KS2 as part of the science curriculum and would also be useful when exploring the creation stories in RE. It is also approachable for confident readers in Y2 with a parent's help, and for older children in Y7-8 as a brief introduction to the topic.
Curriculum Links: Religious Education, Geography
You can download a free KS2 resource pack to go alongside this book here.
Also features on: February 2019 Books of the Month
You can order Charles Darwin's On The Origin Of Species online or from your local bookshop or library.
Many thanks to the publisher for sending us a review copy of this book and to Caroline for reviewing it.