The best books about evolution for children

Who am I?

As a kid, I never stopped asking “But why?” Learning the answers always led me to new questions, and I’ve been on a life-long journey to understand the world, and how everything works. I wanted to give the joy of discovery, and the empowerment of understanding, to a new generation of readers. The amazing story of evolution seemed to be a great starting point. I wrote the book I wanted to read to my own daughter, full of adventures and grown-up science, told in a way kids can understand. 

I wrote...

Aunt Jodie's Guide to Evolution

By Jordan Bell,

Book cover of Aunt Jodie's Guide to Evolution

What is my book about?

Join Sophie and Matt as Aunt Jodie takes you on an imagination-expanding journey back in time. Learn about evolution in two different species, millions of years apart: the Plesiads, ancient lemur-like creatures from 55 million years ago, and colour-changing Peppered Moths from the 1800s. What happens to the Plesiads when a volcano erupts? How do the moths survive when their camouflage stops working? Discover the secrets that help all creatures transform and develop when big changes happen in the world around them. For anyone new to science, Aunt Jodie’s Guides also include an easy-to-read glossary, explaining the scientific terms used in the book, and how to pronounce them. 

This book is available on the author's website.

The books I picked & why

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Amazing Evolution: The Journey of Life

By Anna Claybourne, Wesley Robins (illustrator),

Book cover of Amazing Evolution: The Journey of Life

Why this book?

I wish I’d had this richly illustrated book as a curious 10-year-old who wanted to learn about evolution in a very fact-based way. Packed with explanations, illustrations, lists, and definitions, Amazing Evolution helps kids self-educate around how and why evolution happened – from the origin of life in the sea to the first creatures to survive on land, through to dinosaurs and convergent evolution in mammals. A great book for an older primary kid who wants to understand how all life is related, but wants to find it out themselves. And the “Fact File” at the end of the book is jam-packed with the kind of amazing information that will make readers want to say “Did you know…?” to everyone they see!

Grandmother Fish: A Child's First Book of Evolution

By Jonathan Tweet, Karen Lewis (illustrator),

Book cover of Grandmother Fish: A Child's First Book of Evolution

Why this book?

I loved reading this beautiful book for young children to my daughter when she was younger, as it puts the story of evolution into context for early learners, following a “family tree” style of explanation. Children are invited to wiggle like a fish, crawl like a lizard, squeak like a mammal, grab like an ape and walk like a human as they travel forward in time from the deep past to the present. Traits accumulate through generations and the relationships between different animals are shown on the page. The bright and cheerful illustrations bring the story to life. This is a fantastic way to begin introducing the idea of evolution to younger kids. 

The Story of Life: A First Book about Evolution

By Catherine Barr, Steve Williams, Amy Husband (illustrator)

Book cover of The Story of Life: A First Book about Evolution

Why this book?

The Story of Life is a good introduction to the history of life on Earth for younger readers. Introducing Earth from before life existed, it traces the changes in the planet as life begins to develop, then bloom, then flourish in every possible niche. There’s a thorough treatment of dinosaurs, which will be a favourite section for many readers. The illustrations are energetic, clever, and funny, with enough detail to let kids read and re-read as they catch every little interaction on each page. A handy time-tracker on the bottom left of each double-page spread keeps you oriented in time as you turn each page. Along with a glossary at the back, this book makes a great introduction to evolution for kids in the early primary years.  

Who Will It Be? How Evolution Connects Us All

By Paola Vitale, Rossana Bossù (illustrator),

Book cover of Who Will It Be? How Evolution Connects Us All

Why this book?

A more conceptual connection to evolution, this creative book introduces the amazing fact of life and introduces young readers to the fact that all life on Earth is related. I love the way the vibrant illustrations track development from cells to creatures and show how humans, mammals, fish, reptiles, and birds are connected. With back matter to support adults to explain evolution in an age-appropriate way, this story can be a great introduction to answering the question “where do people come from?”

When the Whales Walked: And Other Incredible Evolutionary Journeysvolume 1

By Dougal Dixon, Hannah Bailey (illustrator),

Book cover of When the Whales Walked: And Other Incredible Evolutionary Journeysvolume 1

Why this book?

A great follow-up book for older readers who want to delve into the detail of interesting stories from our evolutionary past. Beautifully illustrated with plenty of contextual information, this book tells some amazing stories of evolutionary changes from the fossil record, including reptiles growing wings, birds with teeth, tiny elephants, and the titular walking whales. It has some lovely detail about the changes to Earth itself over the millennia and speculates about future possibilities for evolution and extinction. 

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in evolution, evolutionary biology, and natural selection?

5,810 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about evolution, evolutionary biology, and natural selection.

Evolution Explore 85 books about evolution
Evolutionary Biology Explore 44 books about evolutionary biology
Natural Selection Explore 27 books about natural selection

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, Earthshake, and Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt if you like this list.