The most recommended books about bacteria

Who picked these books? Meet our 8 experts.

8 authors created a book list connected to bacteria, and here are their favorite bacteria books.
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Book cover of Up Your Nose

Bethany Barton Author Of I'm Trying to Love Germs

From my list on children’s books about germs.

Who am I?

I have a confession: I became an award-winning science communicator for kids sort of by accident. Well, the science part wasn’t an accident… I just didn’t know what I was doing had a name: science communication. I only knew that I had questions! So I set out to approach my questions with facts, humor, empathy, and critical thinking; to interview professionals-in-the-field and to share what I learned from them with kids. For my germs book (I’m Trying To Love Germs), I spoke with professionals in the fields of virology, epidemiology, microbiology, and medicine, and read every kids' germ book I could get my hands on.

Bethany's book list on children’s books about germs

Bethany Barton Why did Bethany love this book?

This is the 4th STEM picture book from the Fishman/Greenberg duo and every one of them is worth a read.

Up Your Nose does a great job helping younger readers connect the invisible  world of microbes with things their grown-ups say: phrases like “Wash Your hands!”, “Take A  Bath!” and more. Playful illustration showcases the different types of microorganisms that live in, on, and around us, and even shows us where they like to hide (spoiler alert: it’s kinda everywhere.)

I especially like the part about the barriers our body uses to keep germs at bay:  stuff like our skin, tears, and even mucus!  

By Seth Fishman, Isabel Greenberg (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Up Your Nose as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

What exactly are germs? And what do they do? The acclaimed and award-winning author and artist of A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars have created a timely—and funny!—introduction to germs and the human body’s natural response to the microscopic (sometimes) organisms. An informative and accessible choice for fans of Andrea Beatty’s Ada Twist, Scientist and Kimberly Derting and Shelli R. Johannes’s Loves Science series.

Did you know that there are quadrillions of germs in the world? And that hundreds of billions of germs may be in the room around you—and inside you as well?

Acclaimed creators Seth Fishman and Isabel Greenberg…


Book cover of Microcosm: E. Coli and the New Science of Life

Jessica Snyder Sachs Author Of Good Germs, Bad Germs: Health and Survival in a Bacterial World

From my list on surviving and thriving in a microbial world.

Who am I?

I'm enchanted by ecology – how life on Earth is both a web and a seamless continuum. In my first book, Corpse, I explored the organisms that colonize the human body after death. In Good Germs, Bad Germs, I immersed myself in our symbiotic relationship with the ever-present bacteria that live in us and on us. I’m passionate about understanding how we evolved to survive in a bacterial world and how we must take the long-term view of surviving – and thriving – in their ever-present embrace. My joy has been in exploring the world of science and translating this joy into lay-accessible stories that entertain as well as educate. 

Jessica's book list on surviving and thriving in a microbial world

Jessica Snyder Sachs Why did Jessica love this book?

I know I’m double dipping here with another of Carl’s books. I love how he takes one, ubiquitous micro-inhabitant of the human body and uses it to explore what it means to be alive and interconnected with the life in and around us. I love how Carl flips away our human perspective to “view” the word through the chemical-sensing molecules of a single-celled organism – E. coli. Superb, fun science writing.  

By Carl Zimmer,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Microcosm as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Best Book of the YearSeed Magazine • Granta Magazine • The Plain-DealerIn this fascinating and utterly engaging book, Carl Zimmer traces E. coli's pivotal role in the history of biology, from the discovery of DNA to the latest advances in biotechnology. He reveals the many surprising and alarming parallels between E. coli's life and our own. And he describes how E. coli changes in real time, revealing billions of years of history encoded within its genome. E. coli is also the most engineered species on Earth, and as scientists retool this microbe to produce life-saving drugs and clean fuel,…


Book cover of Do Not Lick This Book

Beth Bacon Author Of Helping Our World Get Well: Covid Vaccines

From my list on for kids about COVID-19.

Who am I?

I'm an author of books for young readers. These days, there’s nothing more important than having conversations about the Coronavirus disease. It can be hard for grown-ups to start a conversation about Covid with their kids. But they can read a book about the subject and invite the kids to respond to what they heard and saw. My book COVID-19 Helpers was the first place winner of the Emery Global Health Institute’s e-book contest back in May 2020. Through the pandemic, I’ve been reading and talking about the virus with kids from around the world. If you're interested in having me read one of my books to your school, clinic, or your daycare center feel free to get in touch. 

Beth's book list on for kids about COVID-19

Beth Bacon Why did Beth love this book?

I love simple graphical picture books. I love books with a sense of humor. I love books that are interactive, talk directly to the audience, and get kids to physically act out things as they’re being read to. This story has so many elements that I love…I wish I wrote it! The story explains that microbes are everywhere and invites the reader to touch the book and pick up a tiny microbe that is lounging in the paper. Then it invites the reader to touch one of their teeth. This transfers the microbe into their mouth. The book goes on to prompt the reader to discover the microbes in their clothes and their belly buttons! Yuck, right? Well, that kind of yuck is an effective way of demonstrating the point that after you touch stuff, it’s a good idea to wash your hands.

By Idan Ben-Barak, Julian Frost (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Do Not Lick This Book as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Min is a microbe. She is small. Very small. In fact so small that you'd need to look through a microscope to see her. Or you can simply open this book and take Min on an adventure to amazing places she's never seen before - like the icy glaciers of your tooth or the twisted, tangled jungle that is your shirt.The perfect book for anyone who wants to take a closer look at the world.


Book cover of The Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-Term Health

Lindsay S. Nixon Author Of Everyday Happy Herbivore: Over 175 Quick-And-Easy Fat-Free and Low-Fat Vegan Recipes

From my list on vegan health.

Who am I?

I first adopted a vegan diet for the animals and then shifted to a plant-based vegan "for my health" in my mid-20s. I felt fabulous for the next 10-15 years. Then, in my mid-30s, I suddenly developed severe and chronic GI symptoms. I was severely bloated, nauseous, and constipated, which didn't make sense given how much fiber I was eating. After diagnosis and treatment for H Pylori (a bacterial infection), I was left with a "broken belly" (severe dysbiosis). I've spent the last few years reading every book on gut health and hormones to learn how to heal myself since traditional medicine has failed me.

Lindsay's book list on vegan health

Lindsay S. Nixon Why did Lindsay love this book?

Best, most succinct, and comprehensive book I’ve read on the topic of gut health by far. It's also written in a friendly, conversational tone (not overly dry or academic). Things I like: The authors provide a specific daily fiber recommendation (29-35g minimum) for gut health; they discuss how antibiotics and antibiotic soap/cleaner affects microbes, the impacts of glycemic load and industrial flour, and most importantly: they provide evidence so the reader can draw their own conclusions as to what’s best for them diet-wise instead of using fear-mongering.

Note: This book is not "pure vegan" (the authors suggest dairy in some situations).

By Justin Sonnenburg, Erica Sonnenburg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Good Gut as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The groundbreaking science behind the surprising source of good health

Stanford University's Justin and Erica Sonnenburg are pioneers in the most exciting and potentially transformative field of human health and wellness, the study of the relationship between our bodies and the trillions of organisms representing thousands of species to which our bodies play host, the microbes we call the microbiota. The Sonnenburgs argue that the microbiota determines in no small part whether we're sick or healthy, fit or obese, sunny or moody-and that the microbiota has always been with us, coevolving with humans and entwining its functions with ours. They…


Book cover of Do Not Let Your Dragon Spread Germs

Beth Bacon Author Of Helping Our World Get Well: Covid Vaccines

From my list on for kids about COVID-19.

Who am I?

I'm an author of books for young readers. These days, there’s nothing more important than having conversations about the Coronavirus disease. It can be hard for grown-ups to start a conversation about Covid with their kids. But they can read a book about the subject and invite the kids to respond to what they heard and saw. My book COVID-19 Helpers was the first place winner of the Emery Global Health Institute’s e-book contest back in May 2020. Through the pandemic, I’ve been reading and talking about the virus with kids from around the world. If you're interested in having me read one of my books to your school, clinic, or your daycare center feel free to get in touch. 

Beth's book list on for kids about COVID-19

Beth Bacon Why did Beth love this book?

This book encourages little ones to read along with a recurring refrain, “Don’t let your dragon spread germs!” The premise of this book is that children have to teach their pet dragons hygiene. In using this logic, the story puts the young characters in the book in the position of the teacher-caregivers. The illustrator, Andy Elkerton, did a great job with the dragons. Each dragon has its own personality and the illustrations are full of energy and motion. Those colorful, dynamic dragons are fun for kids to look at while a grown-up reads the text. 

By Julie Gassman, Andy Elkerton (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Do Not Let Your Dragon Spread Germs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Your dragon loves to hug and high-five and shake hands and sing and blow bubbles and share happiness everywhere she goes. Dragons want to spread joy to everyone! But some of those actions are also spreading germs. It's time to wash your hands, mask up and teach your dragon how to share joy in a safe and healthy way. Author Julie Gassman uses rhyming text, relatable examples and a diverse cast of characters to teach readers about germs in the sixth book in the Do Not Take Your Dragon picture book series.


Book cover of American Sour Beers

John J. Palmer Author Of How to Brew: Everything You Need to Know to Brew Great Beer Every Time

From my list on understanding beer, brewing, and civilization.

Who am I?

I was that child who always took things apart to see how they worked. I was always interested in new gizmos and technology, but found myself most drawn to raw materials – how does this make that, and how can I make that better? Eventually, this led me to engineering school and the aerospace industry. Along the way, I got interested in beer and asked, “why didn’t this work?” That question, vehemently directed at my first batch of homebrew, lead to the first edition of How to Brew. Thirty-something years later, I'm the Chief Editor for the Master Brewers Association – an international professional organization for brewers founded in Chicago in 1887.

John's book list on understanding beer, brewing, and civilization

John J. Palmer Why did John love this book?

This book was a difficult choice because there are a plethora of great books on various beer styles and ingredients that make for engaging reading. But this book is notable for pulling back the veil of mystery around a whole class of beers that most people are not familiar with, and those are sour beers. These beers are produced by fermentation with both yeast and bacteria, instead of yeast alone. Sour beers are not new, they have, without doubt, been around as long as beer itself, with many different techniques for producing them. These techniques often took years to produce a consistent and palatable product. This book documents the renaissance of sour beer production in American craft brewing and teaches you how to brew delicious sour beers yourself. 

By Michael Tonsmeire,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked American Sour Beers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the most exciting and dynamic segments of today's craft brewing scene , American-brewed sour beers are designed intentionally to be tart and may be inoculated with souring bacteria, fermented with wild yeast or fruit, aged in barrels or blended with younger beer. Craft brewers and homebrewers have adapted traditional European techniques to create some of the world's most distinctive and experimental styles. This book details the wide array of processes and ingredients in American sour beer production, with actionable advice for each stage of the process. Inspiration, education and practical applications for brewers of all levels are provided…


Book cover of Inside Your Insides: A Guide to the Microbes That Call You Home

Bethany Barton Author Of I'm Trying to Love Germs

From my list on children’s books about germs.

Who am I?

I have a confession: I became an award-winning science communicator for kids sort of by accident. Well, the science part wasn’t an accident… I just didn’t know what I was doing had a name: science communication. I only knew that I had questions! So I set out to approach my questions with facts, humor, empathy, and critical thinking; to interview professionals-in-the-field and to share what I learned from them with kids. For my germs book (I’m Trying To Love Germs), I spoke with professionals in the fields of virology, epidemiology, microbiology, and medicine, and read every kids' germ book I could get my hands on.

Bethany's book list on children’s books about germs

Bethany Barton Why did Bethany love this book?

Inside Your Insides does a nice job of taking a journey through the body and exploring which microbes live at the stops along the way.

After a brief intro into the microbiome and a distinction between helpful (“Some Of Your Microbes Are Good Guys”) and harmful (“Some of Your  Microbes Are Bad Guys”) little fellas, the book focuses on different areas of the body: skin, mouth, lungs, gut… and dives into information and anecdotes about the microbes that call that region home.

Playful germ-jokes and fun-facts dance along the edges of the pages and the book closes out with tips to treat your microbiome with care.  

By Claire Eamer, Marie-Eve Tremblay (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Inside Your Insides as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

“Wherever you go, tiny hitchhikers tag along for the ride,” this intriguing illustrated nonfiction book begins. “The hitchhikers are actually microbes --- tiny living things so small that you need a microscope to see them. And every person carries around trillions and trillions of these critters.” Six of the most common “critters” that live in and on our bodies are introduced here: bacteria, archaea, viruses, fungi, protists and mites. Each one has its own preferred environment, and readers will be startled (and likely a little grossed out!) by the many places they live, including the hair follicles on our faces,…


Book cover of The Bacteria Book: The Big World of Really Tiny Microbes

Bethany Barton Author Of I'm Trying to Love Germs

From my list on children’s books about germs.

Who am I?

I have a confession: I became an award-winning science communicator for kids sort of by accident. Well, the science part wasn’t an accident… I just didn’t know what I was doing had a name: science communication. I only knew that I had questions! So I set out to approach my questions with facts, humor, empathy, and critical thinking; to interview professionals-in-the-field and to share what I learned from them with kids. For my germs book (I’m Trying To Love Germs), I spoke with professionals in the fields of virology, epidemiology, microbiology, and medicine, and read every kids' germ book I could get my hands on.

Bethany's book list on children’s books about germs

Bethany Barton Why did Bethany love this book?

The Bacteria Book is an in-depth look into one of the heaviest hitters in the microbial world: bacteria.

Even though it’s a bacteria book (quite literally) other microbes get honorable mentions along the way (viruses, fungi, archaea, etc.) helping to round out the information. The book has lots of really interesting photographs and images from microscopes; bacteria on teeth are revealed in all their sticky glory through the magic of the electron microscope.

My son was drawn to the real-world images of molding fruit and zombie ants, and we both appreciated the fact-filled “Timeline of Microbiology” towards the end. 

By Steve Mould,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Bacteria Book as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 7, 8, and 9.

What is this book about?

In this fun, fact-packed science book for kids, young readers will discover the bacteria, viruses, and other germs and microbes that keep our bodies and our world running, as well as how and when they can be harmful and the precautions we can take to prevent them from becoming so.

Meet a glowing squid, traveling fungus spores, and much more. The Bacteria Book walks the line between "ew, gross!" and "oh, cool!," exploring why we need bacteria and introducing readers to its microbial mates-viruses, fungi, algae, archaea, and protozoa.

The Bacteria Book is a fun and informative introduction to a…


Book cover of Pathogenesis: A History of the World in Eight Plagues

Sam Ita Author Of Fun with Origami Animals Kit: 40 Different Animals! Includes Colorfully Patterned Folding Sheets!

From Sam's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Paper engineer Origamist Cartoonist

Sam's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Sam Ita Why did Sam love this book?

My wife disagrees, but I find that reading about a topic helps to ease the trauma of dealing with it. I appreciate Pathogenesis because it puts recent events in context.

This book argues that mass outbreaks of disease have made our world, past and present. Yet, they seem to recede into memory just as suddenly as they appeared. I feel it now. It's a mistake to ignore the scars they leave on humanity. Needless to say, recent events should give us all much to consider. A strong central thesis and some memorable anecdotes make this a worthwhile, timely read. 

By Jonathan Kennedy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pathogenesis as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A “gripping” (The Washington Post) account of how the major transformations in history—from the rise of Homo sapiens to the birth of capitalism—have been shaped not by humans but by germs

“Superbly written . . . Kennedy seamlessly weaves together scientific and historical research, and his confident authorial voice is sure to please readers of Yuval Noah Harari or Rutger Bregman.”—The Times (U.K.)

According to the accepted narrative of progress, humans have thrived thanks to their brains and brawn, collectively bending the arc of history. But in this revelatory book, Professor Jonathan Kennedy argues that the myth of human exceptionalism…


Book cover of Germy Science: The Sick Truth about Getting Sick (and Staying Healthy)

Bethany Barton Author Of I'm Trying to Love Germs

From my list on children’s books about germs.

Who am I?

I have a confession: I became an award-winning science communicator for kids sort of by accident. Well, the science part wasn’t an accident… I just didn’t know what I was doing had a name: science communication. I only knew that I had questions! So I set out to approach my questions with facts, humor, empathy, and critical thinking; to interview professionals-in-the-field and to share what I learned from them with kids. For my germs book (I’m Trying To Love Germs), I spoke with professionals in the fields of virology, epidemiology, microbiology, and medicine, and read every kids' germ book I could get my hands on.

Bethany's book list on children’s books about germs

Bethany Barton Why did Bethany love this book?

Germy Science calls itself “A Gross Science Book” and the icky, phlemy, booger & fart-filled illustrations do not disappoint!

The book does a really great job of giving a well-paced (and hilariously illustrated) history of our human understanding of microbes and medicine: from Ancient Greeks blaming the gods, to our first ventures into hand-washing and pasteurization. Early attempts at inoculation provide lots of gross examples, including 1600s China using ground-up smallpox scabs… eww… but also—wow!

The book even makes a thoughtful  mention of Covid-19 in the section about plagues and pandemics—which is wisely titled “Germs That Changed History”.

By Edward Kay, Mike Shiell (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Germy Science as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

This perfectly revolting — and perfectly timely! — introduction to germs from award-winning comedy writer Edward Kay will turn any kid into a master of microbes!

Children get up close and personal with germs (ew!) in this entertaining, thoroughly researched exploration of the science and history of these tiny, ubiquitous creatures. Heavy on the gross factor to keep readers engaged, the book covers what germs are, how we get sick, how the human immune system works and the best ways to stay healthy. There are intriguing stories about early attempts to fight disease (heard about corpse catapults? how about shaved…