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  •  My Seventh grader is a dedicated (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kewalo, jwinIL14, zow

    armchair paleontologist. He has expressed an interest in reading The Origin of Species, but I'm thinking he should first read something a little more accessible. Any suggestions?

    The weak in courage is strong in cunning-William Blake

    by beltane on Sun Oct 11, 2009 at 06:47:03 AM PDT

    •  I'd say he should NOT read OofS. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kewalo, vets74, beltane

      He should be able to read Bryson's book, and that will make a lot more sense to him.

      I'm in the pro-Obama wing of the Democratic Party.

      by doc2 on Sun Oct 11, 2009 at 07:06:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Here are a few thoughts.... (9+ / 0-)

      Anne Weavers "The Voyage of the Beetle" is a look at the Beagle voyage from the point of view of a beetle that tags along with Darwin.  Though that may make it should too childish for a sharp 7th grader,  it's actually quite well done (and I have to admit I'm taken with the illustrations).  

      There is also a book on evolution in the Eyewitness series that includes the usual plethora of pictures that Eyewitness uses -- through the text is a mixed bag (despite some great contributors).

      Dawkin's new "Greatest Show on Earth" is a celebration of evolution -- and less didactic than some of Dawkin's other books.  A good read.

      Personally, I'm still very fond of Stephen Jay Gould's collected essays (though Gould's thoughts on the Cambrian explosion and punctuated equilibria have been tempered by new interpretations and better evidence).  Try "The Richness of Life" for a collection of some of Gould's best.  Good writing from a person who really loved the subject is hard to beat.

      Finally, sure, let him read Origin.  It's a beautifully written book that makes, as Darwin said, "one long argument."  He may end up having a reaction kind of like my friend's when I forced them to watch "Lawrence of Arabia" (i.e. "it's so slow!") because Darwin hits the points again and again, with example after example, and beats a very careful path to his conclusions.  And of course nearly all the fossil evidence of evolution came after Darwin's writing, so there's no chance to discuss much of the fossil record but for a few mentions and some speculation.  BTW, Darwin's speculations have turned out to be spectacularly accurate because, as as with natural selection, Darwin rarely ventured a guess before he was extremely sure of the outcome.

      •  Thanks (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Kewalo, maizenblue, happymisanthropy

        He would probably enjoy Dawkins. Already, at the tender age of twelve, his enthusiasm for science has caused a few run-ins with evangelical classmates, which has made him more anti-religion than I ever was.

        The weak in courage is strong in cunning-William Blake

        by beltane on Sun Oct 11, 2009 at 07:20:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You should be proud. What (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Kewalo, maizenblue, geez53, beltane

          a sad thought, that there are 12-year olds who are already evangelical, close-minded fools.

          I'm in the pro-Obama wing of the Democratic Party.

          by doc2 on Sun Oct 11, 2009 at 07:24:01 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The frames are set in stone well before age 12. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Kewalo, beltane, happymisanthropy

            Starts with: Daddy, why is the sky blue? "Because god made it that way child."

            Takes decades of freer thought to jackhammer through that steel reinforced, cast-in-place, synaptic structure.

            IGTNT...Honor the Fallen...Respect Their Loved Ones.

            by geez53 on Sun Oct 11, 2009 at 07:59:23 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  We didn't even teach our kids (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              geez53, happymisanthropy

              about Santa Claus when they were little. Once you allow for impossible fantasies being real, it is that much harder for them to grasp reality.

              I'm in the pro-Obama wing of the Democratic Party.

              by doc2 on Sun Oct 11, 2009 at 08:16:59 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Did you let them play house (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Kewalo

                or cops and robbers?  Imagination can also be stifled at a young age.  As the mind develops people realize santa is not real.  Thinking outside of the box requires imagination and imagination muscles must be stretched and exercised.  Congrats on keeping a child from believing in non christian pagan cling-ons of a holiday that is mostly commercial.  Do you let them watch cartoons with talking animals?

                I don't care if I fall as long as someone else picks up my gun and keeps on shooting. Che Guevara

                by Paid Troll on Sun Oct 11, 2009 at 08:30:55 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Sure, they watched cartoons. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Kewalo

                  But we, their parents, never told them that animals can talk, nor that Santa can fly to every house in the world in one night. What does the kid think when years later they realize that their parents were lying to them? Trust is paramount in importance, and it didn't seem to me that lying about anything was a good idea.

                  I'm in the pro-Obama wing of the Democratic Party.

                  by doc2 on Sun Oct 11, 2009 at 08:34:29 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  HAHAHA (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    badger, Kewalo

                    I am not judging your parenting, I believe if you really try to be a parent ( and you must be as you have a plan and a thought process ) you probably are a good parent.  I just think teaching a kid to eat right and not do drugs and not lie cheat or steal or read for fun....those vastly outshine santa claus damage.  I worked for several years as a paramedic and saw all the terrible things people do to children and taking away santa is not even close.  I do remember loving the magic around Xmas and it sucks they did not get that although i am sure you make it up in other ways.  

                    I don't care if I fall as long as someone else picks up my gun and keeps on shooting. Che Guevara

                    by Paid Troll on Sun Oct 11, 2009 at 08:40:11 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

              •  Oh, we did (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Kewalo

                I figure it will teach them to question everything.  The greatest scientific discoveries have been made by those who engaged in seemingly "impossible" fantasies like space and time not being absolute.

    •  Is he familiar with the "Dino Land" project? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Helena Handbag, terabytes, geez53, beltane

      It is a group that is trying to be group that is trying to be the first teenagers. They have also organized panels to make the science more accessible.

      Some of their favorites include: "Stranger Than Fiction," by Melvin Berger, "Giant Dinosaurs," by interview subject Peter Dodson and Peter Lerangis, "The Humongous Book of Dinosaurs," by Stewart, Tabori, and Chang, "Dougal Dixon's Dinosaurs," by Dougal Dixon and Dodson, and "An Illustrated Guide to Fossils," by Chris Pellant.

    •  Jurassic Park and Lost World are worth (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kewalo, beltane

      reading for their pop culture references and fun factor, but make sure you engage in some critical thinking discussions.  For example: JP posited that velociraptors were neat, orderly, and intelligent; for a plot reason, LW had them be sloppy and stupid.  (It's been a long time since I read them, and I may not have the exact point down.)

      I also recommend Raptor Red -- from the point of view of a velociraptor lookin' for love in all the wrong places.

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