Incredible photos, fascinating facts — as a homeschool parent you probably know how much real, living science books add to your family’s enjoyment of science.

But buying piles of books is not necessarily in every homeschooler’s budget — and maybe you’re not exactly sure about what type of science books will work best for how your family learns.

No problem

Let me show you how I’m preparing to use my new secular science curriculum using five exciting types of books I’ve borrowed from my local library or found inexpensively at my local used bookstore. (I’m using REAL Science Odyssey Astronomy Level 1  but these types of books can apply to any science curriculum.)

Each type of science book below will give you the kind of informal science experience you need in your homeschool when you need it, and really bring your science curriculum to life — with minimum fuss.

Picture books like The Simple Science of Sound by Emily James are a great way to help illustrate science concepts.
Perspective-building books are great for when you are further into your curriculum and want to start integrating the information you’ve learned. (Pictured: Zoom Space by Blackbirch Press)
Read-to-self books are perfect for enthusiastic readers at any level. Left: Facts at Your Fingertips Introducing Physics: Light and Sound; Right: Science Vocabulary Readers :The Sun by Justin McCory Martin

1. Tell Me a Story with Science Books

When you have multiple kids at multiple levels — studying the same science topic — nothing beats a read aloud to get everyone on the same page!

Or maybe you’re starting science with a kindergartener, and you need to read aloud to keep your child engaged.

Some science texts are awkward to read aloud because the information is broken up into too many features on a page. It’s hard to keep a narrative flow going.

So for this first type of science book, look for simple text that’s structured like a storybook.

Bonus: these picture books often have large, gorgeous photos that will help your children picture the science concepts you’re studying and link them to their everyday lives. And they are perfect to use with these 10 ideas for Writing About Science.

2. Get Perspective

The next type of science book you can find at your local library is one that takes a unique perspective on the topic at hand. Often these texts will move from big ideas to small ones, or vice versa, showing your children how science topics relate to each other. Perspective-building books are great for when you are further into your curriculum and want to start integrating the information you’ve learned.

I love having this type of science book stashed away for a rainy day to look through leisurely, raise new questions, and renew our wonder in the subject!


3. Read-to-Self Science Books

The read-to-self science book is perfect for when you have enthusiastic readers at any level. These traditional informational books have lots of captions, diagrams, and fact bubbles featured alongside columns of text. Because there is so much going on within the pages, they are ideal for one student to navigate on their own while picking up lots of facts and vocabulary they can bring to their science lessons later.  You can grab one or two at each child’s reading level to add some science to your daily reading habit!

4. Refer and Expand

The easiest types of science books to find at the library or used bookstore are the familiar multi-subject reference books that offer lots of different topics in the science discipline you’re studying.

These are great science books to have on hand to answer a specific question or to remind yourself about a concept. They’re also great for kids who like to have a broad, big picture view before they do lessons on individual topics.

Be on the lookout, too, for reference books that feature related science history and cultural references, which will give your kids insight into the scientific method and the relevance of science to our everyday lives. 

5. Ready to Experiment

Finally, the fifth type of book you’ll want to be on the lookout for is the experiment book!

Pandia Press’s REAL Science Odyssey Astronomy Level 1 curriculum presents lots of engaging, hands-on lab work, but I also like having an experiment book on hand in case we want to do an additional demonstration. 

 REAL Science Odyssey science curriculua come with great book recommendations for each unit, but are also flexible enough to use what you have available. To see more, download a sample of any REAL Science Odyssey curriculum HERE.

Check It Out

Now you have five types of science books to look for at the library or used bookstore as you work through your science curriculum.
Depending on the preferences and needs of your students, you can focus on picking up just one or two kinds of books, or you can try one of each to bring variety and fun to your science homeschooling.

Knowing the type of science books you need will make it easy and inexpensive to supplement your curriculum with living books your kids will love!

Free Printable Science Book List

Sign up for Pandia Press news, and get a free printable book list form that will help you stay organized as you collect books to use with your science curriculum.

Catherine Gervais is one of those people who knew she wanted to homeschool even before she had her three children – and she is still surprised at how challenging it is to live up to all the possibilities of homeschooling! A sociology grad, she loves to apply a little organizational theory to her homeschool planning, but with simple, down-to-earth ideas you can start using right away. Catherine writes about making your home work for you (and not against you) at