"Ms. Hakim is a fine story-teller who winks at readers and never talks down. Her audience may be wary of science, but children should delight in the foibles and bad luck of scientists past., clearly appreciates science and the matchless might of a reasoning mind."
-Bettyann Holtzmann Kevles, The New York Times
“For younger readers there is no better introduction to the sprawling subject [of science] than “The Story of Science” (2004-2007), an illustrated trilogy by veteran writer-educator Joy Hakim. If these books [comparing Joy Hakim's The Story of Science to Carl Sagan's book "Cosmos" (1980) and Isaac Asimov's "Chronology of Science and Discovery" (1989)] have a common attribute, it’s the author’s distinctive voice: scholarly yet cognizant of the general reader, levelheaded, yet imbued with a raconteur’s ardor.”
-Alan Hirshfeld, professor of physics at UMass Dartmouth and author of "Starlight Detectives: How Astronomers, Inventors, and Eccentrics Discovered the Modern Universe" Wall Street Journal, June 12, 2015,
Embark on a Vivid Journey Through World History
with a Focus on Science's Big Ideas in The Story of Science
“I’m convinced, and I hope to convince you, that science is not just for scientists. In the twentieth century, we compartmentalized knowledge; in the information age, that doesn’t make sense. Today, you can be a hermit on a mountain peak and still have access to the world’s learning. For scholarship to be so available, so democratic, is unprecedented in world history. To use that opportunity well, we all need to be generalists first. And no field of knowledge is as basic or as creative as science. . . . that human quest to understand the universe underlies almost all other creativity."
-A Writer’s Reasons, from The Story of Science, Aristotle Leads the Way
A recent report from the National Science Board says, "The Nation that dramatically and boldly led the world into the age of technology is failing to provide its own children with the intellectual tools needed for the 21st century. . .There is no excuse for citizens in our technological society to say, 'I don't know anything about science.'"
In this 21st century, the most incredible era of science ever, scientific illiteracy is no longer acceptable. The 20th century was a golden age of physics, cosmology is now having a heyday, so are molecular and evolutionary biology. Anyone without basic knowledge of those sciences is missing the intellectual underpinnings of our time. What can we do? Reconsider the way we teach science, history, and reading, bringing them together through narrative nonfiction. Educators talk of multidiscipliniary. The Story of Science
is intended to make it possible. These books and accompanying materials meet the requirements of the new science standards. They go farther; they make connections between subjects. So think world history, critical thinking, language arts, and science when you consider these books. Hakim's writing has been lauded as exemplary nonfiction in the Common Core State Standards.
Copublished by Smithsonian Books and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), The Story of Science
attempts to present the ideas of the physical sciences in a narrative combining stories with coordinated "hands on" experiments and activities (found in the teaching materials). The beautifully designed books begin with Thales, way back in ancient Greece, sojourn with Galileo, Kepler and Newton, take on Faraday, Maxwell and the electromagnetic revolution, then Einstein, Bohr, Feynman and the moderns, finally looking at today's theories of the cosmos. These books are written for young readers of all ages–readers who want to think and learn, which includes everyone I know.
Increasingly,educators are turning to "content" subjects, like history and science, to teach critical reading. A History of US
and The Story of Science
were written to teach analytical reading. Teaching materials that accompany the books focus on vocabulary and reading skills. Some schools, using the books, have shown a documented rise in reading scores.
The Story of Science: Aristotle Leads the Way
Aristotle Leads the Way
"In the interest of scientific education that is excellent as well as entertaining, The Story of Science: Aristotle Leads the Way is a superb start to what promises to be a valuable series."- Steve Ruskin, Rocky Mountain News
In the first book, readers travel back in time to ancient Babylon, Egypt, Greece, India, and the Arab world. They will explore the lives and ideas of people like Pythagoras, Archimedes, Brahmagupta, Al Khwarizmi, Fibonacci, Ptolemy, St. Augustine, and St. Thomas Aquinas. The ancients, especially Aristotle and some of his Greek peers, asked the questions that would eventually lead to modern science. They often got the wrong answers, but that question-asking was essential. Read this book and you'll understand why.
This book is being used as a text in ancient history courses.
The Story of Science: Newton at the Center
Newton at the Center
In this book, readers watch as Copernicus's systematic observations place the sun at the center of our universe-to the dismay of establishment thinkers. After readers follow the achievements and frustrations of Galileo, Kepler, and Descartes, they will appreciate the amazing Isaac Newton, whose discoveries about gravity, motion, colors, calculus, and Earth's place in the universe set the stage for modern physics, astronomy, mathematics, and chemistry.
What happened when Europe's massive forests got cut down so farmers could use the amazing plow? Read this book and find out. Lots of medieval and early modern history in this volume.
The Story of Science: Einstein Adds A New Dimension
Einstein Adds A New Dimension
In this book, readers will look over Albert Einstein's shoulder as he and his colleagues develop a new kind of physics. It leads in two directions: to knowledge of the vast universe and its future (insights build on Einstein's theories of relativity), and to an understanding of the astonishingly small subatomic world (the realm of quantum physics). Students will learn why relativity and quantum theory revolutionized our world and led directly to the explosion of technology we all enjoy. Those two disciplines provide what are perhaps the most important ideas in modern science, maybe of all time. For information on the wonderful teachers ebook written by Juliana Texley to accompany this book go to the NSTA Science Store.
War, peace, the amazing post-war growth of the western world, followed by a worldwide surge brought about by discoveries in science and technology.
The Story of Science, Download Sample Chapters
The Story of Science Book One Sample Chapter
(1.0MB) Book One: Aristotle Leads the Way, Chap 11, Aristotle and His Teacher
Story of Science Book Two Sample Chapter
(919.2KB) Book Two: Newton at the Center, Chapter 21, Daniel and the Old Lion Hunter
Story of Science Book Three Sample Chapter
(979.2KB) Book Three: Einstein Adds a New Dimension, Chapter 24, The Fission Vision
What People have been Saying about The Story of Science
A Letter to the Head of Smithsonian Books from a school leader:
The books are fantastic.
I have been teaching for 25 years with experience in an Ivy League University and a variety of very competitive prep schools. As a former prep school History Department chair (at Landon School) who made it a habit to teach everything in our department, I have probably used 20 different textbooks, including ones for courses in AP U.S. History, AP European History, AP Economics, AP Government, Latin American History, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, World History, the History of the South. I go to conferences and scout around for the best texts, because they can play a critical role in the value of the course for the students.
Joy Hakim's work is the best I can find. In fact, her books are far above the quality of anything else I have used. She emphasizes narrative and tries to tell compelling stories about historical figures, with particular attention to their youth. I opened a middle school for boys in 2007 and we have used her books almost exclusively in our history curriculum. My students like her stories and it is easy for me to get these not-always-eager readers to do so when it's one of her books.
We are now working our way through her second Story of Science book having completed the first last year. I read it all, eagerly, when I first received it and will do the same when I order the third. She has made the study of the history of science incredibly approachable for a great target audience: middle schoolers. It would work equally well, however, for high school students. The sophistication of the material, at times, is really beyond our students, but I think it's best to be ambitious with them and teach it since it is so compelling.
There are two traits to the series that make it so good. First, as far as I know, she is the sole writer. Texts are typically written by committees, and often handed down and revised through the years. This makes for prose that reads as if it's been written, well, by a committee. I can't remember ever reading anything written by a group and thinking, "that's fantastic."
Second, she must be working her tail off to find the right stories to tell. This is actually obvious by virtue of the images she chooses to highlight her work. When I use her U.S. History series, I know the iconic pictures I want to show the students. When I used to teach with other texts, I had to go out and find them. Hakim's books seem to have virtually all of them there. She is a compelling storyteller, she knows what interests young people, and she creates enthusiasm for history and all its associated subjects.
Head of School
Here's a missive from an adult reader that spoke to me as few have. I've deleted his name, but am delighted that I'm reaching someone like this very bright man. It's also nice to hear about that astonishing jump in a test score.
Dear Joy Hakim,
I would like you to know that your wonderful books are enjoyed not only by children but adults as well. I purchased The Story of Science set a few years ago from an ad in the Smithsonian, and had them available for my children as a reference. Myself, I looked through them and enjoyed the fantastic quality of the material. I have to admit I didn't read them as a novel (yet), however this was about to change.
A little background first, I am 44, I left High School at 16 and went right to work full time. I have always loved books and felt somewhat of an accomplished reader. Skip ahead a few decades and I was about to discover my employment hinged on a diploma or a GED.
Taking a pre-test to check where I stood, Science was my lowest score, (passable, but my mentor suggested some refresher study). I immediately thought of your books. Starting with the first and reacquainting myself with Pathaegarons theory and being able to not only understand but able to appreciate how it can apply to life, ( I must have been absent that day it was covered or I wasn't paying attention). Continuing on to "Newton at the Center", I haven't
been able to put it down, and with last nights moon all I could think of was the chapters on Galileo. To sketch the moon with such a limited telescope (my entry level Celestron doesn't look to bad).
To sum things up, my final test on Science had a couple questions regarding information I had come across in " The Story of Science". Now, I am not saying I was perfect, but my score went up 120 points.
I want you to know that I am thankful for your books and your teaching. You helped make me understand Science more and appreciate basic ideas I have taken for granted (the artwork of the Renaissance for instance).
The Story of Science in Action!
California students absorbed in science in Mr. Bentley's 5th grade class! Read Mr. Bentley's letter below.
McNair Elementary School, Virginia
Dear Joy Hakim,
These books are exactly what is needed to promote deep learning and thinking about science AND ancient civilizations and their relevance in our world today! In chapter 30 at the end of "Aristotle Leads the Way," author Joy Hakim states: "There is something I want to be sure you understand before you close this book. It's this: Science is not about certainty; it's about uncertainty: Does that sound weird? Well, it's true. Science is all about trying ideas, discarding those that don't work, and building on those that do. It never stops." She goes on to point out how scientifically minded people at various points in history have "proved" the Earth was flat or at the center of the universe and then cautions students that when a person believes "an absolute truth, you can just memorize it and get on with your life," since "there's nothing to discuss." This is one of the biggest ills plaguing education: resources and strategies that "impart" information to kids without requiring them to critically think, question, react to, and transform the information being studied. These texts and the teaching materials created by the Johns Hopkins University are the remedy to this problem.
Again, thank you SO MUCH for helping me provide my students the learning opportunities they deserve! Your assistance has transformed the lives of each of my students in ways that are impossible to measure.
"The Story of Science" in action!
Students at McNair Elementary school in Virginia use The Story of Science in their science and math classrooms and discuss parts that spoke to them! I think it is great to hear about what students take away from my books!
The Story of Science goes edible!
The Story of Science graduation cake created by Mona's Cakes, Bakes, and More
"In her new series of science books for middle-schoolers, Joy Hakim combines science, history, geography, culture, and art to tell the story o science in a way kids love. And don't be surprised if you learn a lot yourself."
Dear Ms. Hakim,
My name is Shreeda and I just graduated from high school about a week ago. I wanted to write to you to personally thank you for introducing me to the wonders of science, and specifically physics, through your books The Story of Science. My parents held a graduation party for me at home yesterday and surprised me with a beautiful cake featuring the cover of your book, which I read 4 years ago. I have attached pictures of it; everything pictured is edible.
This fall, I will be a freshman at Rutgers University New Brunswick, as part of their honors program. I aspire to be a physicist. Your book is defining my life.
(Shreeda has given permission to use her letter and photos. I wish her great luck in college!)
"I can't sing Hakim's praises enough—from her A History of Us series to The Story of Science, all three volumes so far. I've been an avid science fan my whole life, but not a hard science major, and I gasped all the way through these books..."
"As a teacher and curriculum writer, I have to say that this is a superb book from many, many angles. Joy Hakim is warm, compassionate, and passionately interested in her subject and in making it attractive and accessible not only to younger readers but to adults as well. I should really say "subject(s)" because she weaves history, mythology, science, math, philosophy, and religion together in a way that was fascinating enough to keep this long-in-the-tooth reader fully engrossed throughout...I strongly recommend this book for any human from 13 to 103."
-Nowell Didear, Sheridan, OR
"Don't make the mistake of thinking that these books are textbooks; these books are treasures."
-Kristi G, Rome, GA
"Hakim emphasizes the importance of mathematics to scientific progress and is not afraid to sprinkle a few numbers through the text, showing, for example, how the concept of zero transformed math into a tool for understanding practically everything..."
-Natalie Angier, The New York Times
A letter from a college professor/author:
Your writing is what I wish my sons (and my students!) could have been reading in place of the standard blah science texts in middle school. I couldn't help but flip to the Faraday section and found everything spot on. As you know, I've introduced an activities-based, historical approach in my college astronomy course. It's coincidence that I titled it "The Story of
Astronomy" before I was aware of your series, but I believe that commonality underlies our mutual respect for the value and power of historical narrative in education.
Alan Hirschfeld, author, The Electric Life of Michael Faraday
The Story of Science translated into Korean