Bang! How We Came to Be (book review)

When I was making my guide of secular resources for parents, I wanted to compile a lengthy list of top notch children’s books that teach how to reason about the wold. Much to my chagrin, there was only a handful of solid material out there. It seemed as though book companies would rather churn out fifty books on Noah’s Ark than publish one about science and critical thinking.

Fortunately, is starting to change. With the additions of Richard Dawkins’ The Magic of Reality and Daniel Loxton’s Evolution, my list has grown in length and quality. However, these books are made for 8-11 year olds and are too complex for younger audiences (6-8 years). This gap is where Bang! How We Came to Be comes in.

“Where do I come from? Why does anything exist? For too long, young minds have been fobbed off with traditional answers, which are not only false but actually rather boring compared with the truth. Michael Rubino tells the true story—which means the scientific story—illustrated with his captivating paintings. Children will be fascinated by this book, and they’ll use it to educate their parents.” –Richard Dawkins Author of  The Magic of Reality and The Selfish Gene

“The illustrations in Michael Rubino’s Bang! How We Came to Be are lively, breathtaking, flowing, thought provoking, colorful, and sharp. If they do not transport you and your children to the past and enchant… with the wonder that is nature and evolution—I give up. The narrative flows easily, carrying nothing pedantic or political; it simply recounts what science has learned of the history of the particular life-form called humans. This wonderful book would be a life-affirming gift for any child.” –Cameron M. Smith Author of The Top Ten Myths about Evolution and The Fact of Evolution

The best way to think about Bang! is as a children’s version of Richard Dawkins’The Ancestors’ Tale. Like Dawkins, Rubino takes the reader through a tour of our ancestors and makes stops at major events in our evolutionary history. This journey starts with the big bang and ends with us. Despite the heaviness of this topic, Bang! is clearly written and easy to understand. The author did an excellent putting the book into plain speak so parents can easily read it to their children.

This book is well written, but the artwork is even better. Every turn of the page leads the reader to another one of Rubino’s beautiful paintings of animals and nature scenes.  A few pieces I found to be particularly striking are the paintings of abiogenesis and flatsworms.  These really make the book pop in a way that similar texts do not.

The culmination of this artwork and text is an enchanting story that will keep your children’s attention. I read it to my six year old (at least what she did not want to read to me) and she loved every minute of it. As a parent, I could not recommend another book any more than Bang!


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