As we enter into these darkest days of the year, the girls and I have been reading stories together on the couch quite often. Claire always wants to read something seasonal, usually Jan Brett’s Christmas Trolls. But Bea has been asking for a book that is a little out of the ordinary in this season of candy canes and peppermint bark. However, it’s such an amazing book I’m happy to read it as often as she likes.
Life Story is written by Virginia Lee Burton, and was originally published in 1962. Organized as a play in five acts, Life Story lays out the history of the earth from the formation of the earth to current times, right down to the day, hour and minute. Burton’s work is an homage to change and growth in the natural world, scale and relativity in time frames and praises the beauty of the simple things.
Unlike other natural history books, it’s poetic and clear without being excessively detailed or wordy. There are beautiful and intricate illustrations on every page, either as the main illustration or the spiraling features on the opposite page.
What makes Life Story really brilliant is how Burton balances the poetic and the scientific. This is not just a book full of pretty pictures of balls of gas and dinosaurs, there is also real, detailed information to learn from. Did you know that Trilobites ruled the earth for 100 million years? 100 MILLION YEARS! I think I’d like to go back to the Burgess Shale and meditate on those 100 million years in which Trilobites were the most highly developed life on earth.
Ahem. In any case, Life Story would be an excellent gift for any kid between the ages of 4 and 10, or as an addition to your home reference library. It’s smart, it’s beautiful and it’s full of mind-blowing information. If you do decide to order a copy through the Amazon links in this post, I’ll get a small but very much appreciated affiliate payment. But truly: I wholeheartedly recommend this book regardless of whether I get any affiliate payments or not.
What books are you reading with your kids right now?