Books About Electricity & Electromagnetism

 Booklist for Electrical Circuits (By Mary W. Thomas)

Electrical Circuits, usually taught at fourth grade, is one of the Elementary Science Program's most popular units. Students work with batteries, wires and bulbs to build knowledge and understanding about electricity. As a supplement to activities and experiments, literature can help students create a conceptual understanding of their observations. In addition, books can help a student grasp the broader context of a particular idea. Some of the books listed below are biographies of individuals involved in the development of electrical technology. By reading about these famous people and learning of their struggle to learn and invent, students are given models of scientists which go beyond the "white coat and crazy hair" stereotype.

Recommended for Students

The Magic School Bus and the Electric Field Trip by Joanna Cole & Bruce Degen. Scholastic Press, 1997.

Ms. Frizzle leads her class in yet another adventure when they explore electricity. This text successfully provides a "big picture" about electricity and how it is generated when the class visits a power plant. In addition, an explanation of how a motor works makes this book equally appropriate for students using the Electromagnetism unit.

Simple Electrical Devices by Martin J. Gutnik. Franklin Watts, 1986.

Students and teachers of Electrical Circuits and Electromagnetism may really enjoy the explanations and project ideas in this book. Content in the beginning of the book closely parallels the scope of the Electrical Circuits unit. In addition, there are sections that contain information on light bulbs, electromagnetic devices, motors and generators, and the telephone. Black and white illustrations accompany the text.

The Story of Thomas Alva Edison, Inventor: The Wizard of Menlo Park by Margaret Davidson. Scholastic, 1964.

This book has a more thorough treatment of Edison's inventions than some other biographies though the text is somewhat dated. There is an excellent chapter about the invention of the incandescent light bulb and the development of its filament. The text is double spaced and appropriate for fourth grade readers.

Switch On, Switch Off by Melvin Berger. Thomas Y. Crowell, 1989.

This "Let's Read and Find Out Science Book" provides an overview of electrical power in an easy reader format. The content includes information about switches, power generators, electric wires and light bulbs. It is appropriate for students of both Electrical Circuits and Electromagnetism units.

Thomas Alva Edison: Great Inventor by David A. Adler. Holiday House, 1990.

In this "First Biography", the author describes the life of Edison from early childhood. Interesting in part because of his many failures, Edison always said, "Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration." Beautiful black and white illustrations accompany the text. The book includes a section about invention of the light bulb.

Thomas Edison and Electricity by Steve Parker. Harper Collins Publishers, 1992.

This biography includes more photographs and illustrations than most other books about Edison. The text is interesting and similar to others, but may be slightly more challenging reading for fourth grade students.

What's the Big Idea, Ben Franklin? by Jean Fritz. Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, Inc. 1976.

This biography is filled with interesting anecdotal stories about the famous Revolutionary War era statesman and inventor. The "big idea" referred to in the title is that electricity and lightning are the same thing. Students may be surprised to learn about the many ideas and abilities of this extraordinary person.

Recommended for Teachers

Basic Electricity, Revised Edition by Van Valkenburgh, Nooger & Neville, Inc. Hayden Book Company, 1982.

This text provides a great deal of background information to teachers in a concise manner. It includes basic content about electricity, magnetism and electromagnetism and, as such, would be a good reference for Electrical Circuits, Magnetism, and Electromagnetism. This book reads like a high school or college text and is, therefore, not appropriate for fourth or fifth grade students.

Invention and Technology, Great Lives by Milton Lomask. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 1991.

Fascinating stories about many historical figures in science and technology are included in this well written book. While well above a fourth grade reading level, it contains many interesting anecdotes about the 27 diverse individuals who dedicated their lives to invention and technology.

Wires and Watts by Irwin Math. Charles Scribner's Sons, 1981.

This book, as well as another by the same author entitled More Wires and Watts, will provide a teacher with additional background information for both Electrical Circuits and Electromagnetism units. The author uses wiring diagrams (schematics) to show electrical projects that can extend the units.

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