Want to introduce kids to microbiology? Here are some good books to do just that.
The Invisible ABCs: Exploring the world of microbes by Rodney P. Anderson (American Society for Microbiology Press, 2006) is a visual treat that introduces a number of important microorganisms, and concepts about the microbial world, in a format suitable for children. Though structured as an ABC book, this is NOT a picture book for toddlers; I’d say the target age is about 6-10. Older kids who are discovering microbiology can also benefit from this book. Lettered headings include algae, bacteria, cows, diatoms, immunity, lichens, mold, protozoa, sewage, termites, useful, viruses, yeast, zoo, and more. There’s a simple glossary at the end, and two pages of photo credits–really a WONDERFUL collection of microbiology images in this book. The author even collected a series of images of microbes shaped like letters. The book answers questions like “Why do we get gas after eating beans?”, and, “Why can cows eat grass for food but humans can’t?”
I recommend for school libraries, for use in the science classroom, or for parents with some science background to help interpret for their younger kids. Also, the photos in this book are so amazing, adults (both laymen and scientists) will enjoy taking a look. To learn more, visit the book website.
Germ Stories by Arthur Kornberg (University Science Books, 2008). Another children’s microbiology book, suitable for ages 4 and up. Written by a Nobel prizewinning scientist for his own children and grandchildren–one of whom, Roger Kornberg, went on to win his own Nobel years later! I haven’t seen a copy myself, but here’s the summary from the ASM catalog:
…rhyming tales of the tiny beasties in the germ parade. Witty and rollicking, Arthur’s poems and stories are beautifully rendered in this children’s picture book. Germ Stories will bring the microscopic world to life for the very youngest readers and grownups alike with its richly imaginative narrations and its vividly rendered art and color electron micrographs. Features eleven unique poems and stories from the world of germs, including Staphylococcus, Clostridium, and more. Introduces accurate information in a fun and interesting way, appropriate for a young audience…Kornberg frequently expressed his desire to share with children the excitement and wonder of viruses and bacteria. With Germ Stories, he got his wish.
And for adults, The Other End of the Microscope: the Bacteria Tell Their Own Story, a Fantasy by Elmer W. Koneman (ASM Press, 2002). I haven’t laid hands on this book either, but here’s the intriguing blurb from the ASM catalog:
This entertaining book offers a unique and fascinating look at the relationship between bacteria and humans, told from the bacteria’s perspective. Gathered at an imaginary assembly, the microbes compare notes on their history and current coexistence with humans, from their own view of pathogenesis to the often derogatory manner in which humans assign their names.