A Beginner’s Guide to Electricity and Magnetism

A Beginner’s Guide to Electricity and Magnetism written by Gill Arbuthnott and illustrated by Marc Mones, is a brilliant non fiction book published by Bloomsbury.


This book takes two complex but fascinating science topics and explains them in a fun and engaging way for children. Starting by describing atoms, we are taken on an historical and informative journey through the discoveries and science of electricity and magnetism and how they are closely connected.

We are introduced to the specific language surrounding this topic with clear and relatable explanations, not just about their meaning but the history around how they were named and the famous scientists who discovered them. Illustrated with a mix of cartoons, photographs and diagrams that break up the information into accessible, bite-sized chunks will capture children’s attention.


From discussing the magnetic fields of single atoms, the book expands and details the many ways magnets are used right up to the two biggest magnets in the world that were responsible for detecting the Higgs Boson. As well as magnets that humans have learnt to use to their advantage it also covers the fascinating things the Earth’s magnetic field does.


When it comes to electricity we look at the ways we can generate it, how it’s distributed and the different ways it is used. And, with clear diagrams and explanations of electric circuits, batteries and transistors children will start thinking about how they use electricity and stop to consider just how many different ways it works. There’s a great diagram of a house that asks the reader to consider which kind of lightbulbs are used in different places. The fact that different lightbulbs exist might be something that children will have never considered, but this simple activity will help to foster their curiosity.


The opportunities for hands on learning throughout this book are brilliant with a range of activities for children to try. There are simple ones such as separating magnetic from non-magnetic coins to more involved projects like making an electronic quiz board. My four-year-old has just discovered magnets and currently enjoys conducting his own experiments to find out what objects in the house are magnetic. And although he is a bit young for the information in this book he still finds it all fascinating and was particularly drawn to the section on “Electric Animals”.


This book would be perfectly placed in a key stage 2 classroom or library, in addition to supporting work in Science it also raises questions about the future of technology and the planet with a great section about renewable energy. Books like this are vital, not just for helping to explain complicated topics but they are designed to get children thinking and asking questions about the world, which is always the best way to learn.

Many thanks to Bloomsbury for sending a copy of this book for review.


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