February 10, 2021

Germ Theory for Babies (Baby University)

Written by Chris Ferrie, Neal Goldstein and Joanna Suder
24 pp.
Ages 4-8
February 2021 

The series may be called Baby University and the books' titles always state that they're "for babies" but there is nothing infantile about the topics addressed in Chris Ferrie's books or the approach taken to do so.

From Germ Theory for Babies by Chris Ferrie, Neal Goldstein and Joanna Suder
In Germ Theory for Babies which was written with epidemiologist Neal Goldstein and public health attorney Joanna Suder, Chris Ferrie explains how people get sick, starting with the original theory of miasmas causing illness before closer examination of the sick person, ultimately with microscopy, revealed tiny creatures at work. Differentiating between those that can be useful like lactobacillus and those that can make us sick i.e., germs, the authors discuss how germs can be spread, especially important to know during a pandemic. (Actually everything in this book is important to know during a pandemic!)

From Germ Theory for Babies by Chris Ferrie, Neal Goldstein and Joanna Suder

Making sure to speak to young readers, the authors emphasize that germs can live anywhere, including home, school and the environment and can live for different amounts of time, depending on the type. While hitting all the salient information about germs, Chris Ferrie, Neal Goldstein and Joanna Suder give us capsule drawings of a variety of bacteria, viruses and mould including coronavirus, ebolavirus, staphylococcus, streptococcus, rhinovirus, norovirus and aspergillus.
From Germ Theory for Babies by Chris Ferrie, Neal Goldstein and Joanna Suder     

Most relevant for little ones is how to prevent the spread, including not touching one's mouth, nose or eyes, washing hands properly, covering your mouth and even wearing a mask, and staying home when feeling unwell.
From Germ Theory for Babies by Chris Ferrie, Neal Goldstein and Joanna Suder

Germ Theory for Babies is a great primer about germs, how they spread and how to prevent that spread. The text is written at a very easy reading level, with the whole book probably comprising of fewer than two hundred words and most of those being only one or two syllables. The illustrations which appear to be digitally rendered are clean and distinct, appropriate for a concept book, and use white space to effectively focus the reader's attention. Still, zoom bubbles are utilized to provide magnified details of the germs and, while simple, they are accurate and demonstrate the variety of forms that germs can take. (Ebolavirus is a particularly unusual shape.)
Don't be put off by the "for Babies" component of the title. These are lessons far beyond those for babies, even if in board book format, but the idea of teaching big concepts in a format perfect for the very young is the whole idea behind Baby University which advances its books as "Simple explanations of complex ideas for your future genius." Germ Theory for Babies should be available to all young children, whether they can read for themselves or not, to understand what we're going through right now with the COVID-19 pandemic and for illnesses from cold viruses, mould and more. But Germ Theory for Babies does more than just enlighten; it also empowers. It prepares children to take precautions and it helps them understand that they can fight back. In other words, it has lessons for everyone.

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Baby University includes over thirty titles by Canadian-born physicist and mathematician Chris Ferrie, including Pandemics for Babies, Rocket Science for Babies, Climate Change for Babies and Robotics for Babies. I encourage teachers and parents interested in fostering scientific exploration with young children to check out the whole series as well as other Chris Ferrie titles, including Scientist, Scientist, Who Do You See? which I reviewed several years ago.

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