Life Science

Biology novels

Tue Sep 03, 2013 11:42 PM

Does anyone have any ideas for biology novels (fiction or non-fiction) that would be interesting to read in reading groups? I am not looking for any one specific topic. Thanks!

Jenny Weir
Jennifer Weir
500 Activity Points

Tue Dec 05, 2017 10:49 AM


These books are more for high school students:

Environmental Science: Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

Biology/Genetics: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Kia Shields
Kia Shields
3192 Activity Points

Wed Sep 04, 2013 1:48 PM

Check out Letters to a Young Scientist by Edward O. Wilson. Or anything by Wilson, really :)

Melissa Gostel
Melissa Gostel
330 Activity Points

Wed Sep 04, 2013 10:45 PM

One of my favorites is The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebacca Skoolt. Since the book is long I broke it into my favorite sections. I used it for a biotechnology and bioethics unit. The students loved it!! (I had one of my students who hates reading ask my new student teacher if they knew who Henrietta Lacks was. When my student teacher said no, they were able to tell the entire story!)
I've also attached a link to the 23 Science Books that are so exciting they read like fiction. It has some great suggestions.

Danielle Dace
Danielle Dace
2780 Activity Points

Mon Aug 28, 2017 1:35 PM

I love that the first book on the list of the "23 science books so exciting they read like fiction" is the Origin of Species by Darwin...I can tell you from firsthand experience, that that book is not exciting and does not read like fiction...its so dry and

And that the first 6 or 7 books are "science fiction" or "Fantasy"

Chris Leverington
Chris Leverington
3820 Activity Points

Thu Sep 05, 2013 2:14 PM

I love the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

I also enjoyed the following:
The Log from the Sea of Cortez, Steinbeck.
The Ghost Map, by Steven Johnson
The World Without Us, by Alan Weisman

If you look up any of these books and then use Amazon or Barnes and Noble online they will have the "you might also like section" where you might find more ideas.

Jennifer Jordan-Kaszuba
Jennifer Jordan-Kaszuba
910 Activity Points

Tue Dec 05, 2017 10:50 AM


I also read the book The Immortal Life by Henrietta Lacks in high school and I really enjoyed it!

Kia Shields
Kia Shields
3192 Activity Points

Thu Sep 05, 2013 2:16 PM

Don't forget NSTA's list of Outstanding Trade Books

Some may be to young but you might find some that work.

Jenn JK

Jennifer Jordan-Kaszuba
Jennifer Jordan-Kaszuba
910 Activity Points

Sat Sep 07, 2013 2:31 PM

Hi Jenny,
I really like (and the kids, too) The Pearl by John Steinbeck.

Carolyn Mohr
Carolyn Mohr
79588 Activity Points

Sat Sep 07, 2013 4:26 PM

1. There is a book group at our school reading Demon in the Freezer(Richard Preston). The students are hooked.

2. Planet of Viruses(Karl Zimmer) has entertaining short stories on different viruses.

3. Ah-Choo(Jeniffer Ackerman)

4. Biopunk(Marcus Wohlsen)

5. The Wild Trees (Richard Preston)

Anna Cynar
Anna Cynar
2635 Activity Points

Sat Sep 07, 2013 7:53 PM

The viral storm is an amazing read

Patricia Ewing
Patricia Ewing
50 Activity Points

Sun Sep 22, 2013 9:30 AM

Charles and Emma, Fever 1793, and The House of the Scorpion are interesting middle school reads.

Charles and Emma @ Amazon

Fever 1793 @ Amazon

The House of the Scorpion @ Amazon

Emily Keeter
Emily Keeter
2530 Activity Points

Sun Sep 22, 2013 2:37 PM

you can check out fear nothing by Dean Koontz.

Lili Zheng
lili zheng
2510 Activity Points

Tue Sep 24, 2013 8:00 PM

Never Let Me Go is a great book to bring about bio ethics. It deals with an alternate present where cloning is utilized by the public and the implications that go along with it for the current society.

Emily Bates
Emily Bates
200 Activity Points

Fri Oct 25, 2013 9:52 AM

Ishmael by Daniel Quinn is a great one for raising a lot of questions about ecology ideas in general but especially human impact on environments, population and community ecology. It's a fictional book with the premise that a gorilla has evolved the ability to "speak" (more or less) to a person and is explaining the story of life on earth from a non-human perspective. Great read in general but especially within an ecology unit.

Casey McMann
Casey McMann
245 Activity Points

Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:48 PM

The Plague by Albert Camus

It is an amazing book but it may be difficult for some readers.

Kaycee Valcourt
Kaycee Valcourt
7815 Activity Points

Fri Nov 22, 2013 12:10 PM

A good one about evolution is Darwin's Finches, or else Silent Spring is always a good read.

Ali Neugebauer
Ali Newgebauer
1170 Activity Points

Tue Dec 05, 2017 10:55 AM

I agree that Silent Spring by Rachel Carson is a good read for students to learn about the importance of a safe environment.

Kia Shields
Kia Shields
3192 Activity Points

Fri Nov 22, 2013 1:14 PM

Here is a list of Biology Books put together by AP central
Agosta, William C. Chemical Communication: The Language of Pheromones (1992) (NF)
Pheromones are used in a variety of animals in reproduction, territory marking, signaling, and other forms of communication.

Agosta, William C. Bombardier Beetles and Fever Trees: A Close-Up Look at Chemical Warfare and Signals in Animals and Plants (1997) (NF)
A book with excellent explanations of the use of chemicals in living organisms.

Agosta, William C. Thieves, Deceivers, and Killers: Tales of Chemistry in Nature (2002) (NF)
A collection of stories woven together with the thread of chemistry -- antibiotics, enzymes in extremophiles, intricate chemical communication in insects, etc.

Alvarez, Walter T-Rex and the Crater of Doom (1998) (NF)
A description of the evidence that links the production of the Chicxulub Crater in Mexico by an asteroid and the extinction of the dinosaurs.

Andrews, Lori B. The Clone Age: Adventures in the New World of Reproductive Technology (1999) (NF)
Reproductive technology and the law associated with it for the layperson.

Angier, Natalie The Beauty of the Beastly (1996) (NF)
A book of essays about organisms on which we don't normally dwell -- divided into seven chapters entitled "Loving," "Slithering," "Dancing," "Dying," "Adapting," "Healing," and "Creating."

Angier, Natalie Natural Obsessions: Striving to Unlock the Deepest Secrets of the Cancer Cell (1999) (NF)
The work of young scientists in the areas of molecular genetics and the genetics of cancer.

Anthony, Piers Tatham Mound (1991) (F)
A native American story woven around skeletons unearthed in a mound discovered on a Boy Scout camp in Florida.

Asimov, Isaac Wellsprings of Life (1960) (F)
The middle book of a set of three biochemistry books, this one deals with origin of life, molecules (including DNA), spontaneous generation, and evolution.

Asimov, Isaac Fantastic Voyage (1966) (F)
A medical team is miniaturized and injected into a VIP's bloodstream to destroy a clot that threatens his life.

Auel, Jean The Clan of the Cave Bear (1983), The Valley of the Horses (1983), The Mammoth Hunters (1986), The Plains of Passage (1993), Shelters of Stone (2003) (F)
A story of a Cro-Magnon woman raised by Neanderthals who must learn the ways of others like her when she is expelled from the Neanderthal community.

Bakker, Robert T. The Dinosaur Heresies: New Theories Unlocking the Mystery of the Dinosaurs and Their Extinction (1986) (NF)
Support for Bakker's controversial view of dinosaurs as active, warm-blooded, intelligent beings.

Bear, Greg Darwin's Radio (1999) (F)
Something that has slept in our genes for millions of years is waking up and accelerating human evolution.

Benchley, Peter Beast (1993) (F)
A giant squid terrorizes Bermuda.

Benchley, Peter White Shark (1996) (F)
Nazis fashion a creature from a man.

Benson, Ann Plague Tales (1997) (F)
The story of two plagues that are linked despite the plagues being separated by hundreds of years.

Benson, Ann The Burning Road (1999) (F)
The sequel to Plague Tales.

Bernstein, Leonard, Alan Winkler, and Linda Zierdt-Warsha Multicultural Women of Science (paperback 1996) (NF)
A compilation of 37 hands-on activities and experiments that accompany descriptions of the work of female scientists from around the world.

Bodanis, David The Secret House: 24 Hours in the Strange and Unexpected World in Which We Spend Our Nights and Days (1986) (NF)
Everything we always wanted to know (or did not want to know) about the microscopic organisms that live on and around us.

Braver, Gary Elixir (paperback 2001) (F)
A scientist stumbles onto a "fountain-of-youth" drug.

Browne, Janet The Power of Place (2002) (NF)
Second part of the Darwin biography begins with the arrival of letters from Wallace and
follows through to his death.

Browne, Janet Charles Darwin: Voyaging (1995) (NF)
Traces the interesting life of Darwin from birth to 1858 just before his publishing of Origin of

Bronowski, Jacob Science and Human Values (1999) (NF)
Thought-provoking essays on science as an integral part of our culture.

Bybee, Rodger W. editor NSTA:Evolution in Perspective: The Science Teacher's Compendium (2004) (NF)
Twelve different articles concerning a teacher's role in presenting and nurturing an understanding of the theory of evolution as an ongoing scientific endeavor. (see full review at NSTA Publications site)

Bryson, Bill A Short History of Nearly Everything (2003) (NF)
Reports how humans figured out major concepts in science, from the age of the universe to continental drift

Pamela Auburn
Pamela Auburn
68500 Activity Points

Fri Nov 22, 2013 1:16 PM

Amazon's list of best children's biology books can be found here

Pamela Auburn
Pamela Auburn
68500 Activity Points

Sat Nov 23, 2013 9:03 PM

I am also becoming the broken record in this thread but The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a great book. I teach Inclusion Biology so it takes us quite a while to get through it, but it is worthwhile.

Shannon Clegg
Shannon Clegg
95 Activity Points

Sun Nov 24, 2013 3:30 PM

I had my students read Hot Zone by Richard Preston for biology last year and my students loved it. It's about the Ebola virus, but it is very action pacted.

Yetzul Flores Werner
Yetzul Flores Werner
1190 Activity Points

Sun Nov 24, 2013 3:33 PM

This website has a few more books on biology that are considered good reads. I like to read the books first to see if I think my students will like them first, but that's the best part. Biology good reads

Yetzul Flores Werner
Yetzul Flores Werner
1190 Activity Points

Sun Nov 24, 2013 9:54 PM

I am also becoming the broken record in this thread but The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a great book. I teach Inclusion Biology so it takes us quite a while to get through it, but it is worthwhile.

In response to this post, I LOVED "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" but I am a middle school science teacher. Just wanted to give a shout out, what a remarkable story and contribution to science, Lisa

Lisa Russell
Lisa Russell
465 Activity Points

Mon Dec 02, 2013 11:03 AM

A few of my favorite books (though not all novels):

The Song of the Dodo
Man and Microbes
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Hot Zone

And most of these.

Has anyone used or considered using science fiction novels as part of science instruction?

Erica Danaee
Erica Danaee
3045 Activity Points

Thu Dec 26, 2013 5:12 PM

I am a big fan of 'A Short History of Nearly Everything' by Bill Bryson - he is pretty funny, its a long book but I often refer to it at different points of the year with my biology and chemistry classes.

Nicole Nihan
Nicole Nihan
1240 Activity Points

Fri Dec 27, 2013 8:06 PM

I love Dawson's Ancestor Tales (modeled on Canterbury Tales). The really nice thing is that you can read one of the 44 tales aloud and get a lesson from it. He begins with primitive humans and works backwards, so bacteria are the last "tale."

Juliana Texley
Juliana Texley
1260 Activity Points

Sun Dec 29, 2013 10:12 PM

Anything by Michael Pollan is good. I really liked In Defense of Food and obviously Omnivores Dilemma. I know some AP Environmental Kids that OD had a big effect on. There is a movie, King Corn, which essentially takes Omnivores Dilemma to movie form.

Chris Leverington
Chris Leverington
3820 Activity Points

Mon Dec 30, 2013 8:17 AM

There is a young reader's edition of OD that is really fantastic for the high school students. I personally love to quote his "Food Rules" which is a simple, very logical paperback with rules for eating sensibly.

Juliana Texley
Juliana Texley
1260 Activity Points

Mon Dec 30, 2013 8:18 AM

The year the "Book of Blood" was a winner at the secondary level--fascinating.

Juliana Texley
Juliana Texley
1260 Activity Points

Mon Dec 30, 2013 9:58 AM

"There is a young reader's edition of OD that is really fantastic for the high school students."

Thanks Juliana. I may use this with my 2nd trimester Biology students this year.

And here is a link to a PDF of the Introduction section of what Juliana shared:

Cris DeWolf
Cris Dewolf
10995 Activity Points

Tue Dec 31, 2013 1:11 AM

One of the more interesting sections of In Defense of Food

It discusses a study done on aborigines in Australia, who suffered many health problems after being "westernized." The group of aborigines went back to their aboriginal lifestyle, hunter/gatherer and within 7 weeks most of their health problems had improved drastically

Chris Leverington
Chris Leverington
3820 Activity Points

Thu Jan 02, 2014 9:06 PM

A suggestion:
A great novel is The Hot Spot and it is about viruses from Africa. It is very riveting and interesting for high school students.

Adah Stock
Adah Stock
101470 Activity Points

Sat Jan 04, 2014 1:16 PM

There was a book I read in 9th grade (way back in the stone age) that was about the food chain. Of course I can't remember the name of it, but our teacher had his students read it every year. It started with the producers and then moved up, but it was so memorable for me because it was written so the reader identified with each organism at each level. Now as an adult I know that the author personified the "characters", but I still remember that book all these years later. Of course I don't remember the name, but maybe someone will know it.


Kathryn Ramos
Kate Ramos
760 Activity Points

Sun Feb 09, 2014 7:15 PM

There are so many great titles out here, I think I'm just going to copy some of them down myself instead of trying to offer any suggestions. Everything I know about is already out here.

Aria Moody
Aria Moody
2500 Activity Points

Mon Feb 10, 2014 6:23 PM

Great reading lists!

Here are a few not yet mentioned:

Biophilia (E.O. Wilson)

Walk when the Moon is Full (Frances Hammerstrom)

A Sand County Almanac (Aldo Leopold)

A Sense of Wonder (Rachel Carson)

The Double Helix (Watson and Crick)

Inherit the Wind (Jerome Lawrence and Robert Lee)

Ringworld (Larry Niven)

Dorothy Ginnett
Dorothy Ginnett
27525 Activity Points

Mon Feb 10, 2014 7:31 PM

Although it fits better with Environmental Systems or Environmental Science more, I am reading Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. This book is great to show a what if situation. The book follows a 16 year old sophomore as she experiences life after an asteroid has hit the moon causing it to be pushed much closer towards the earth. There are currently four books in the series.

Angela Miller
Angela Snyder
1035 Activity Points

Thu Mar 13, 2014 4:41 PM

I teach third graders and never thought of using a science novel. That would be a very interesting activity to do with some of my higher achieving students. In my research I did find a website that listed the top 100 science novels. Here is the link.
Your text to link here...

Stacia Brown
Stacia Brown
560 Activity Points

Sat Jul 01, 2017 11:52 AM

There are some great suggestions in the thread. I also recommend Napoleon's Buttons: How 17 Molecules Changed History by Penny LeCouteur, Parasite Rex by Carl Zimmer, The Man Who Fed the World by Leon Hesser and (on a slightly less serious note) What If: Serious Sceintific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe

John Sorrell
John Sorrell
365 Activity Points

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