Books to infuse a love of science in your Harry Potter Enthusiast
When kids are excited about learning, they are naturally turning to books to learn more. For all of our STEAM camps and workshops, we curate a range of books to encourage students to explore more deeply. Here are some of our picks to encourage real science learning for Harry Potter enthusiasts.
Creaturepedia by Adrienne Barman
The magical creatures from the Harry Potter series are all based on characteristics of real animals cobbled together to make something new. While kids wish these types of creatures existed in real life, they are always fascinated to know some of the unique characteristics of animals that do exist. Students at The Laboratory are always flocking to Creaturepedia, a whimsically illustrated book of more than 600 animals. The book is different than most animal fact books using illustrations and unique groupings to tell the story. Rather than grouping animals by type or region, they are categorized by unique characteristics. “The Brainboxes” include an Asian elephant, a Jungle crow and a Common wasp while “The Faithful” includes the expected Lovebirds, plus Mimic poison frogs and Common raccoons.
Many of the animals include fun facts. In “The Gladiators” group, the Rubber boa confuses attackers by pretending its tail is its head, and the Cuban Tree Frog oozes a toxic slime. While there isn’t a lot of text in the book itself, it’s a captivating starting place to pique kids’ interests to start their own self-guided research.
Elements by Theodore Gray
If Harry Potter had a chemistry book, it would be this one. Deemed a “photographic version of the periodic table” each page features a huge photo of the element in its true form and photos of how it appears out in the world.
We find even our younger students are intrigued flipping through the book and being able to visualize each element: Fluorine is in Gore-Tex and Flouride toothpaste. The book also uncovers all the mysterious elements our chemistry teachers never covered, like seeing a visual of Vanadium: the green in many emeralds comes from a vanadium impurity. Students can look beyond the standard facts on the Periodic Table and explore the “story” behind each element and experience them in a tangible way.
Venom By Marilyn Singer
Kids always want to know if the dangerous potions, poisons, and creatures from the Harry Potter books really exist. This book uses short articles to explore real toxic species ranging from the expected spider, snakes, and scorpions to the unexpected butterflies, toads, birds, and even small mammals. Did you know platypus have venomous glands in their thighs? The book describes different types of venom, how venom works, and even medical uses scientists are developing from venom. As they’re reading, kids can identify which real elements inspired the creatures and potions from the Harry Potter books.
Animal Architecture by Ingo Arndt
A lot of people are surprised to learn that even in our advanced technological age, scientists and engineers are turning to nature as an inspiration for their designs and inventions. The kingfisher inspired the design of the Japanese bullet train, the US Navy is designing camouflage inspired by octopus, and scientists are studying mosquitos’ mouths to create a more painless needle.
Animal Architecture builds on this idea by showcasing a series of highly-detailed photographs of animal and insect homes to explore the intricacy of engineering. The book is primarily photographs, with short paragraphs and text descriptions, showcasing structures from wasp nests to 10 foot tall termite mounds to beaver lodges and sea organisms who have been constructing their body shells from lime. Students can discover the beauty created by “Fantastic Beasts” that exist in the real world.