A thought came to me recently that maybe we have a communication gap. Don’t you love it when you have been struggling to explain yourself, and finally you realize that a small clarification might do the trick? It might be wishful thinking, but it’s worth clarifying:
Not all living books are easy.
Really you already know this, because after all, you probably read Plutarch to your children each week. If you are at all like me, there are even times when you are thrilled that your children can narrate so beautifully, because otherwise you would have no idea what you just read!
It is possible, however, that not everyone realizes that there are advanced living books available for science too. Thankfully, we are not stuck with choices between easy stories or text books, fiction or dry facts. We also are not limited to the history of a science or a list of biographies. (Although, please don’t miss those!) More technical books can still be living, while utilizing the hard language needed for the field. For example:
The Elegant Universe
Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory
by Brian Greene
In a rare blend of scientific insight and writing as elegant as the theories it explains, Brian Greene, one of the world’s leading string theorists, peels away the layers of mystery surrounding string theory to reveal a universe that consists of 11 dimensions where the fabric of space tears and repairs itself, and all matter-from the smallest quarks to the most gargantuan supernovas-is generated by the vibrations of microscopically tiny loops of energy.
I’m giggling, and I hope you are too. Clearly this isn’t the place to start, but can you just image how passionate this author must be about his field? Passionate writers are bound to be inspiring. They are going to engage you, make you think, make you wonder. A text book is not going to do any of those things.
As exciting as that it, we still must start from the beginning, because of course you didn’t start your little one out on Sir Walter Scott or Winston Churchill. Instead, you probably read books like The Red Fairy Book and An Island Story. But be encouraged that the beginning is only that, the beginning. Not only for literature and history, but for science as well.