I Used to be a Fish book

I grabbed some books for my kids (4-8yrs) at the library yesterday including one called I Used to be a Fish by Tom Sullivan. As I started reading it to them (and a friend whose parents are creationists) I realized it is a preschool picture book on evolution. I just read through it, no discussion and moved on to the next book because I didn’t want to make a big deal about it with the friend over. I wondered if any of you have seen it, have and thoughts and more generally how you talk about these ideas with your young kids…what resources do you use?

I didn’t really use kids’ books that were overtly evolution-preaching. But we read a lot of science books. Books like this one, What do you do with a tail like this? help you talk about things like adaptations and how creatures are so marvelously suited to their environments. I think those kind of concepts are more important for young kids than the nitty-gritty of common descent. We also really liked this book, the DK First Nature Encyclopedia. It has sections on all the different biomes and the cool animals that live in them.

It is geared toward a slightly older audience than your children, but I used Billions of Years, Amazing Changes with my kids this year for school (I homeschool). They are 8-11 years old. This year was the first year we studied evolution directly as its own topic, though of course they have been exposed to the ideas in BBC nature documentaries, encyclopedias, museums, and kids’ science books.

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To the fine insight of @Christy I will add that some scientific theories are probably best reserved for an older child. For example, the general theory of relativity states that time and space get deformed by matter-energy, and gravity is really the result of the deformation of space. While I have met many bright six-year-olds–I raised four of them–I would not expect any to understand Einstein’s theory. Newton’s laws would be plenty advanced for that age.

Same goes for evolution, in my opinion. There’s no harm in reading Sullivan’s book, but I would not seek out resources on evolution for a pre-schooler. Any resource that helps a kid explore the life in his or her backyard would be good.

Btw, @Christy, I would suggest moving this thread to the Homeschool Forum, where it can attract the attention of that amazingly helpful crowd, and benefit from the forum’s special rules.

That last sentence along with the title of this entire thread take me back to the early days of automated translation, which was heavily funded by the U.S. intelligence services. (During the early years of the Cold War, they were virtually obsessed with developing computer systems for real-time translation of Russian.) Noam Chomsky’s lectures use to refer to all sorts of delightful examples of ambiguity, such as this example using the word “tail”. When spoken aloud, it sounds like “tale”, so we could wonder what one would do with a story like this one.

LIkewise, consider “I used to be a fish book”. When written, we could use a hypen so that “fish-book” is a single entity—and the entire sentence becomes a very bizarre confession of a strange type of reincarnation. But if it is set apart with quotation marks, then it is easier to understand:

“I used to be a fish” book.

Yet, when either version is spoken aloud, comprehension becomes far more difficult and ambiguities persist. Yet, in the target language of the translation, the resulting rendering of each may be VERY different.

I just couldn’t help notice the ambiguities. (I get an extreme craving to add disambiguating punctuations.)

I Used to be a Fish book

Those things can be funny. I often see unintended messages in website addresses as in:
ageofrocks.com becomes age o’ frocks.

You must have really good karma if you went from a fish-book to a human in a single reincarnation. Congrats!

The short PBS documentary “Your Inner Fish”, based on the book by Neil Shubin, has some great insight on the whole “Fish to Human” idea, including the way that humans still have traces of gills. As a homeschooled eighth-grader myself, my family and I watched it and it was really good.


True, and now the whole 3-part series is available at no charge on HHMI/Biointeractive:
Your Inner Fish: The Series


Thanks for the link. :fish::tropical_fish::blowfish:


We liked the “Your Inner Fish” series too (there is also “Your Inner Reptile”, and “Your Inner Monkey”).

We recently did a unit with Mystery Science curriculum which included a video by the same guy that made the “Your Inner Fish” documentary. It was all about animal adaptations over time. Really well done! They are giving it away for free right now. I think it was geared towards students age 7-10 yrs old.

There are actually quite a few good resources for younger kids out there. How about “Life Story” by Virginia Lee Burton, or the "You are Stardust"by Elin Kelsey.

“Older Than the Stars” by Karen Fox (part of the Let’s Read and Find Out Science series)
"Our Family Tree"by Lisa Westberg Peters

My kids interest was sparked by studying prehistoric animals, before the dinosaurs. They loved watching documentaries about that kind of thing. My 10 yr old son also watched the entire Cosmos series with Neil DeGrasse Tyson together with my husband.


Thank you! I about gave up on this forum when my grammar got made fun of, but this is super helpful! I have signed up for mystery of science and I will investigate the other links. We just bought the new audible version of cosmos to listen too so that might be our starting point. Thanks everyone.


What? How rude! If you’re from Texas, you get to talk however you want.

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