I see A LOT of different science encyclopedias in my line of work.
In fact, “a lot” doesn’t cover the volume of children’s scientific reference books I have been through.
I’ve seen the awesome, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I do enjoy leafing through these resources and sharing them with my own children, so I can’t complain!
Today, I wanted to share with you some of my favorites – sorted by age and discipline – to make things easier for you :-).
Here it goes…
My recommendation for the preschool and early elementary years is more of a series than an encyclopedia:
- The Let’s Read and Find Out Series (Note – Love, love, love these books! Did I mention that I love these books? Seriously, they are divided into levels, so they make fantastic read-alouds for preschool/early elementary students. On top of that the science is solid. Gotta say it again, I love these books!!
I do also suggest that you let your preschoolers leaf through some of the more visual encyclopedias suggested below.
Here are my suggestions for first grade through fifth grade:
- Usborne First Science Encyclopedia (Note – I recommend this for younger students only.)
- Usborne Science Encyclopedia
- Kingfisher Science Encyclopedia (Note – I recommend this for older students only.)
- Kingfisher First Encyclopedia of Animals
- DK Encyclopedia of Animals (Note – Love this book!!!)
- Kingfisher First Human Body Encyclopedia (Note – This book is out of print, but if you can get your hands on it, it’s a great introduction to the human body for the early elementary years.)
- DK First Human Body Encyclopedia
- Plant Parts (Life of Plant Series) (Note – The rest of the books in this series are also well done. If you have more than a couple of weeks to study plants, I recommend checking them out as well.)
- Planet Earth: What planet are you on? ~ Basher Science*
- Rocks & Fossils: A Gem of a Book ~ Basher Science*
- Discover Science ~ Planet Earth
- Discover Science ~ Weather
- Discover Science ~ Rocks & Fossils
- DK First Earth Encyclopedia (Note – This one focuses a lot more on mapping and basic geography than I prefer for the elementary years, but it is still a good option.)
- Usborne Encyclopedia of Our World (Note – Rumor is that this book is going out of print, but if you can get your hands on it, it’s a great introduction to earth science for the early elementary years.)
- Astronomy: Out of this World ~ Basher Science*
- Discover Science ~ Solar System
- DK First Encyclopedia of Space
- Glow in the Dark Constellations (Note – Love this book!!!)
- Usborne Encyclopedia of Space (Note – Rumor is that this book is going out of print, but if you can get your hands on it, it’s a great introduction to astronomy for the early elementary years.)
- Fizz, Bubble, Flash (Note – Love this book!!!)
- Chemistry: Getting a Big Reaction ~ Basher Science*
- The Periodic Table: Elements with Style ~ Basher Science*
*A quick note on the Basher Science series – I’m a relative newcomer to this series, but so far it seems like an engaging way to share science with your students. Although I have not run across any yet, I have heard that this series has some questionable phrasing. Generally, I recommend these as read-alouds for the younger crowd so that you can edit on the fly if necessary.
Middle School Years
Here are my suggestions for fifth grade through eighth grade:
- Kingfisher Science Encyclopedia (Note – Love this book!!!)
- Usborne Illustrated Dictionary of Science
- DK Encyclopedia of Science
- Science: The Definitive Visual Guide (Note – Love this book!!!)
A Final Word
I trust that you will find these lists useful as you seek to formulate your plan for homeschool science this next year. If you have any suggestions that I didn’t include on the list or questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments below.
Before you go, I must disclose that none of the above links are affiliate link, as I don’t have time to put all of those together. Instead, I write programs that use almost every single one of these.
So, if you like these lists, be sure to head on over to Elemental Science to see how these books can be coupled with experiments and notebooking for a complete homeschool science program!