Approaching STEM Activities for Teens in an out of the box way, often requires something other than a traditional text book. Our current (and last) high school senior has always learned science through biographies of famous scientists. The next best thing for him is reading books written about a science topic that are authentic and genuine quests for information to satisfy the author’s curiosity. The Big List of Awesome Living Books for Homeschooling Science is a large, curated list of titles that you might use for homeschooling high school science.
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Books found on the shelves in bookstores are often called trade books. You can buy them on your next trip to your favorite bookstore or find them on Amazon or your favorite online shop. I realized as I starting put this list together that really what we’re talking about here is “living books”. Charlotte Mason homeschoolers adore their living books, but in this context we are reading books about all sorts of science topics, written by one author who wanted to answer a question or many questions about their topic of choice.
Why Choose Living Books for High School Science?
It may seem counterintuitive to choose individual paperbacks and Kindle books to teach high school science. After all, isn’t it time your student gets acquainted with text books?
To be sure, there is value in working with textbooks to understand how they are written and organized for you to learn. However, it is extremely rare for a textbook to inspiring your student to keep asking questions and learning more about a topic.
The books on this list, and many others not yet on this list, will not only teach at a high school science level, but they will help your teen to enjoy the subject. Does it get better than that?
Living Books for High School Biology & Nature Study
Biology is close to my heart and nothing brings me academic pleasure as much as seeing middle and high schoolers enjoying biology, the science of life.
- The Way We Work: Getting to Know the Amazing Human Body
- The Violinist’s Thumb: And Other Tales of Love, War, and Genius as Written by Our Genetic Code
- How to Know the Ferns: a Guide to the Names, Haunts, and Habitats of Our Common Ferns
- How to Know the Wild Flowers: A Guide to the Names, Haunts, and Habits of Our Common Wild Flowers
- The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing & Journaling
- The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds
- The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs: Use Outdoor Clues to Find Your Way, Predict the Weather, Locate Water, Track Animal, and Other Forgotten Skills
- Fern Finder
- Field Guides
- How to Read Water: Clues and Patterns from Puddles to the Sea
- How to Read Nature: Awaken Your Senses to the Outdoors You’ve Never Noticed
- Natural Navigator: The Rediscovered Art of Letting Nature be Your Guide
- The Nature Instinct: Learn to Find Direction, Sense Danger, and Even Guess Nature’s Next Move Faster than Thought
- The Secret World of Weather: How to Read Signs in Every Cloud, Breeze, Street, Hill, Plant, Animal, and Dewdrop
- Dr. Mutter’s Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine
Keep reading to see how we put these books into action. For example, I have a post dedicated to using a Fern Finder book.
Living Books for High School Chemistry
This list is probably the most fun list of them all, to me. If your teen is dreading chemistry, I recommend trying a few of these books. The best thing that can happen is for your teen to see chemistry in action in their lives.
- On Food & Cooking: the Science and Lore of the Kitchen
- Culinary Reactions: The Everyday Chemistry of Cooking
- Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Cooks, and Good Food
- Big Fat Notebook Chemistry
- Joy of Chemistry: The Amazing Science of Familiar Things
- Periodic Tales: A Cultural History of the Elements from Arsenic to Zinc
- A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie
- The Science of Murder: The Forensics of Agatha Christie
- It’s a Gas: The Sublime and Elusive Elements that Expand Our World
- Elemental: How the Periodic Table Can Now Explain (Nearly) Everything
- Liquid Rules: The Delightful and Dangerous Substances that Flow through Our Lives
- Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials that Shape Our Man-Made World
- The Disappearing Spoon: And Other Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements
- Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe
- Molecules: The Elements and the Architecture of Everything
- Reaction: An Illustrated Exploration of Elements, Molecules, and Change in the Universe
- Caesar’s Last Breath: Decoding the Secrets of the Air Around Us
- Napolean’s Buttons: How 17 Molecules Changed History
Living Books for High School Math
Personally, I adore a good living math book because it helps to make sense of the things I learned in high school and college. When it comes to math, that is the key to success!
- Change Is the Only Constant: The Wisdom of Calculus in a Madcap World
- It’s a Numberful World: How Math is Hiding Everywhere
- Humble Pi: When Math Goes Wrong in the Real World: When Math Goes Wrong in the Real World
- Big Fat Notebook Geometry
- The Magic of Math: Solving for X and Figuring Out Why
- Math with Bad Drawings: Illuminating the Ideas that Shape Our Reality
- Math Games with Bad Drawing: 75 1/4 Simple, Challenging, Go Anywhere Games- and Why They Matter
- Newton’s Principia: The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy
- Realm of Numbers
Living Books for High School Engineering & Technology
This part of the big list includes books that explain an engineering phenomenon or are books with technology activities.
- Head First Learner’s Guides
- The Wright Brothers– a historical look at their lives and inventions
- The Wright Brothers for Kids: How They Invented the Airplane- 21 Activities Exploring the Science and History of Flight
- The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge
- Arduino Workshop: A Hands on Introduction with 65 Projects
- Python Playground: Geeky Projects for the Curious Programmer
- Galileo for Kids: His Life and Ideas with 25 Activities
- Thomas Edison for Kids: His Life and Ideas with 21 Activities
- Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture
- Bridges! Amazing Structures to Design, Build, and Test
- Tools of Navigation: A Kids’ Guide to the History and Science of Finding Your Way
- Amazing daVinci Inventions You Can Build Yourself
- The Clockwork Universe: Isaac Newton, the Royal Society, and the Birth of the Modern World
Explorations in Microscopy
In this course, you’ll get self-paced, hands on instruction using your home microscope. We’ll start with the earliest microscopes and progress to what researchers use in modern day microscopes. Join us!
Other Posts on Using Living Books to Teach High School Science
These links go to posts where we use the books that I’ve listed here. Take a look at how you can use living books in your homeschooling high school science courses.
How to Teach Science through the Lives of Scientists– this has been a go to for many year for our youngest, who is now a senior.
How to Teach History and Science with Beautiful Feet– History of Science is an absolute favorite at our house.
Art & Nature Study with Beatrix Potter– one of my most popular studies!
How to Approach Middle and Early High School Science with Literature– this program has a fabulous book list and great lab materials.
What Gregor Mendel & Growing Peas Can Teach Us about Heredity– this whole study is based on a picture book about Mendel and comes with a set of notebooking pages if you sign up to download them.
The Salamander Room: Reptiles & Amphibians– this is a great study that we did in our FIAR days, but we revisited it again for a look at animal habitat AND we invited the author to our home during one of the many days we held a Writer’s Workshop with teens and tweens. Hint: If you click on the Workshop link, you’ll be able to sign up for a free 6 week writer’s workshop that you can host for your friends and family.
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