Book Ideas for Young Freethinkers
James Zimmerman interviewed Mindy Rhiger during June’s cable show taping of Atheist Talk. Rhiger recommended many freethought books during the show which are all listed here under one of two categories: Science and Religion. Happy Reading!
On the Day You Were Born, by Debra Frasier
This poetic picture book may make natural phenomena seem miraculous, but the appendix explains the facts behind these “miracles.”
Ubiquitous, by Joyce Sidman
This beautiful book of poetry celebrates earth’s most resilient species beginning with bacteria and following in chronological order through mollusks, beetles, dandelions, and eventually humans.
Riverbank, by Charles Darwin
Text of this picture book is the final paragraph of Darwin’s On the Origin of the Species. It describes how beautiful and complex organisms result from the pressures of nature and features lovely watercolor illustrations of a child exploring the world around him.
Life on Earth, by Steve Jenkins
Jenkins’ signature cut-paper collages against white backgrounds illustrate the story of how life began.
Turn it Loose, by Diane Swanson
Based on the idea that we are all born scientists, and that we can keep our inner scientist alive by exercising our scientific thinking, this book encourages kids to think like a scientist–to observe the world around them, collect data, and make connections all the time.
Questions, Questions, by Marcus Pfister
There are no answers in this simple book, only questions. Some are fanciful, some are more scientific. All will get kids thinking.
Born to be Giants, by Lita Judge
This book is for everyone who ever wondered about the baby dinosaurs. It speculates on dinosaur family life, touching on eight Cretaceous dinosaurs and their possible parenting scenarios.
Did Dinosaurs Eat Pizza? by Lenny Hort
Throws out the pretense that science has all the answers; there are plenty of mysteries yet to be solved.
Our Family Tree, by Lisa Westberg Peters
The poetic text in this book is set to dramatic paintings that explain evolution to kids.
Why? by Catherine Ripley
Asking questions and making connections is an important part of science, and this book is dedicated to one very important question: Why?
Story of Religion, by Betsy Maestro
A look at how religion began, this book takes a fair look at several religions without assuming any of them are true.
One World, Many Religions, by Mary Pope Osbourne
A straightforward look at the major world religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism) for elementary school-aged kids.
What Do You Believe? (Dorling Kindersley book, no author listed)
This overview of religion is great for comparing beliefs of various religions (atheism is included as an option) without providing any concrete answers. Sure to get kids or young teens thinking about the big questions.
Many Ways, by Shelley Rotner
A photographic look at the diversity of ways people express their faith.
Faith, by Maya Ajmera
A look at faith for children that covers prayer, singing, ritual, and good deeds.
What is God? by Etan Boritzer
This picture book very briefly covers the history and similarities in religions then turns to the idea of God–which it explains in a pantheistic way.
Tenth Good Thing About Barney, by Judith Viorst
The death of a pet is covered honestly and authentically in this comforting picture book.
Goodbye, Rune, by Marit Kaldhol
This picture book, translated from Norwegian, addresses death of a child from the perspective of a friend without mentioning an afterlife.
On Noah’s Ark, by Jan Brett
This apocryphal story of Noah’s ark that doesn’t mention God is told from the perspective of Noah’s granddaughter.
We’re All in the Same Boat, by Zachary Shapiro
A fun version of the Noah’s Ark story that features alliteration with animals.
To Everything there is a Season, by Jude Daly
The words from Ecclesiastes may be familiar to us, but this book pairs the words with folk art style illustrations of a South African family going about their lives.
For more great books free of dogmatism, check out Ms. Rhiger’s BLOG, which she periodically updates with her latest finds for free thinking young people.