Virginia Lee Burton, the American author/illustrator and Caldecott Medal winner, probably doesn’t need much of an introduction (but those of you who aren’t familiar with her should check out this book and this book — they’re two of my favourite children’s books!). Even still, you may not be familiar with her book, Life Story , a book I only recently discovered.
Life Story tells the history of earth from beginning up to now, starting with the planets and solar system, then describing the early stages of life on earth, the prehistoric times (and dinosaurs!) all the way up to life on a farm in present day. The book is beautifully illustrated and elegantly written, so that even though the topic is quite scientific, it still appeals to children and it gives them an understanding of complex subjects.
I bought the book for my 7-year-old for Christmas this past year, and he is able to read the text on his own. But the book even appeals to my younger kids because of the detailed illustrations. And I must admit that even I have learned a thing or two from the book! It’s available from Amazon (US and UK).