As part of a Literacy and Reading class at Dominican, I started a list of books about science that may be appropriate reading for 11-14 year olds.
Frankly, it’s hard to find good science literature for this age group. Many books are too elementary or juvenile to be compelling, or they’re reference books, or they confuse science with science fiction and/or fantasy.
Here are some books that are compelling (meaning “good reads”) that you may enjoy. Most of them are at an adult reading level, but not terribly complicated.
Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne
Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind by Donald Johanson and Maitland Edey
Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks
Napoleon’s Buttons: How 17 Molecules Changed History by Penny Le Couteur and Jay Burreson
The Search for the Giant Squid: The Biology and Mythology of the World’s Most Elusive Sea Creature by Richard Ellis
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
(Note: This book is for more mature readers. It contains adults themes such as child abuse, incest, and venereal disease in a factual telling of a family’s history. These themes are neither detailed or glorified.) My review here.
The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher by Lewis Thomas, and his “more notes,” The Medusa and the Snail
You can also consider looking for interesting and inspiring science reading in the annual anthologies that are published – collections of science essays and articles – such as The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2010, edited by Freeman Dyson and Tim Folger and Best American Science Writing 2010 by Jerome Groopman and Jesse Cohen.
Let me know if you have any more suggestions and I’ll add them to the list!