17 Books to Help Kids Discover the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Truths about Germs

Updated: Sep 18, 2020

Lately, viruses and bacteria (aka germs) have gotten a bad reputation and with good reason. However, it is important to remember that not all of them are bad. There are good bacteria that are harmless and can actually help our own bodies function and also help Mother Earth. There are even beneficial bacteria that can protect our bodies from harmful bacteria.

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The world of bacteria can be very fascinating, even for young children. If there is anything that is true about kids, it is their love of learning and exploring the world around them.

Below is a list of books that will help children learn the good, the bad, and the ugly truths about germs. It will teach them to appreciate what bacteria can do for them, without creating too much fear and paranoia. Learning about bacteria will also help them know how to protect themselves from bad germs.

Side note: You kids might enjoy viewing recorded readings of some of these books on YouTube.

17 Books About Germs

1. Are all Bacteria Dangerous? Biology Book for Kids, by Baby Professor.

Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars

Baby Professor books are educational books that help young kids learn the truths about the world around them. They provide attractive visuals to improve the learning process, and Are All Bacteria Dangerous? is no exception.

In the book, Are all Bacteria Dangerous? your kids will delve into the world of biology and learn about the bacteria around them. They can learn the difference between good and bad bacteria. With this knowledge, your children will have no need to fear all bacteria.

"Brilliant educated and illustrations kept us interested. Very educational 5 stars. I definitely will recommend to family and friends. Baby professor books are needed in every kid’s book shelf. My kids love learning and this book explains it all. A very good read." - Amazon Review

2. Virus vs. Bacteria: Know the Difference - Biology 6th Grade, by Baby Professor

Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars

Virus vs. Bacteria is another Baby Professor book. This is a higher-level reading and comprehension book. Although it is designed for 6th graders, younger kids could still learn from it. There are simple explanations provided in the book, yet it is still very detailed. It also has great visuals.

This book teaches about the differences between a virus and bacteria and provides instruction on how to spot the differences. The student will learn how bacteria are treated versus how viruses are treated.

A basic book with good clear and summarized information !! My Kid Loved it! - Amazon Review

3. The Bacteria Book: The Big World of Really Tiny Microbes, by Steve Mould

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

It is a very fun and interactive book. You will enjoy great photography and kooky characters. It makes learning that much more fun. Kids will learn about bacteria, viruses, and other germs and microbes. I love that it teaches how these microbes keep our bodies and the environment going. You will follow along with Mould the narrator as you learn facts about viruses and more.

“The Bacteria Book is an expert blend of visual and written information. There are lots of great attention-grabbing photos, with short blocks of text, and sidebars filled with arresting facts...Like all the best non-fiction books, it informs, entertains, and astounds.” - GeekDad.com

4. Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes, by Nicola Davies

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Tiny Creatures does a great job explaining the nature of microbes in terms that children can understand. The story has a great flow to it. It starts out comparing the size of an ant to a whale and then comparing the size of an ant to microbes. The fact that there are things surrounding us that are too small to see can be very confusing for children. I feel that Nicola Davies does a great job helping kids understand this concept. Great for all ages of children.

“This really is an enjoyable beginner’s look at these minuscule organisms and the effect they can have on everything from our bodies to the soil to the clouds in the sky.” - School Library Journal

5. A Germ’s Journey, by Thom Rooke M.D.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

This book does a good job explaining how germs spread and how fast they can travel. It has some great cartoon art that kids love. It is lacking in preventative measures, but it does set a good foundation for learning about the importance of washing your hands or sneezing into your sleeve.

"My preschool students LOVED this story about germs on the attack. During a unit on staying healthy...this was a perfect read-aloud that was informative, allowed for imagination, participation, and extension activities......all while being very entertained." - Amazon Review

6. Do Not Lick This Book, by Idan Ben-Barak

Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars

It was recommended by a friend of mine. You will follow along with Min, a microbe, as you travel to different places and get an up-close look of the world from a microbe’s perspective. I love the play on words. It keeps the story flowing.

"Fantastic book! Encourages young children to experiment a bit and go on an imaginative journey following some friendly and funny microbes. Beautify art, combining lovely cartoon microbes and microscopic photography.” - Hadar from Amazon

7. Germs are Not for Sharing by Elizabeth Verdick and illustrated by Marieka Heinlen

Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars

Germs Are Not for Sharing will teach kids to cough into their sleeves, why they should use a tissue and wash their hands.

“Addresses an increasingly important subject in children’s health. This book should be in every pediatrician’s and family physician’s waiting room and at every childcare center, preschool, and early elementary school.” - Joseph J. Sockalosky, M.D., Director of Medical Education, Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota

8. Noses Are Not for Picking, by Elizabeth Verdick and illustrated by Marieka Heinlen

Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars

Noses Are Not for Picking goes through a repertoire of what noses are for, but of course, they are not for picking.

“Extensive tips for parents and caregivers on ways to gently discourage nose-picking through modeling, respect, redirection, and persistence. A positive approach to a difficult subject.” - Kirkus Reviews

Both the above books from the Best Behavior Series do a good job using humor and simple explanations to cover some difficult habits kids can have. They don't focus on what germs are, rather they teach the basics of how to prevent them from spreading. There is even a section at the end of the books that have advice for parents and caregivers. These are board books, so they will be great for younger kids.

9. Big Smelly Bear, by Britta Teckentrup

Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars

This is a great book to teach the importance of bathing. You will follow Bear on his journey to learn the importance of taking a bath. Kids will learn what will happen if they refuse to take a bath and the benefits of bathing. This book has a lighthearted tone, and who doesn’t love a book about a bear.

There are a few negative reviews of this book. Some feel it teaches kids how to talk back, bully, and yell. However, most people feel it is a wonderful, fun, silly book. You will need to be the judge about this book. You could use this as a tool to teach about bad behavior and what appropriate behavior is.

“This is one handsome book. Teckentrup creates strikingly graphic spreads from simple, large-scale shapes and expressionistic overlays of texture and color. The combination of the blunt text and bold pictures might even help cajole reluctant bathers to get their feet wet.” - Publishers Weekly

10. What Are Germs?, by Katie Daynes

Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars

It teaches how germs live and how they can spread. It is a great interactive book with flaps that kids can lift to find out about germs and hygiene. It is geared more toward younger readers. It is nice, because it will help you talk to your little ones on how germs can make them sick and what they can do to help prevent the spread of germs. As a bonus, it also addresses good germs.

“This book is super cute and I like that it has so many different ways germs are spread. It is a little funny to see how some words are spelled and used as we are from the US and this seems to be from the UK, so I just changed it up while reading. But it’s a great book to help them understand about germs.” - Amazon Review

11. Germs Make Me Sick! By Melvin Berger and illustrated by Marylin Hafner

Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars

It is a great book that not only teaches about germs, but also helps kids with reading skills. This is a level two reader, full of vocabulary and diagrams to help readers learn about germs and how the body will fight back when bacteria and viruses attack. There is even a pet dog who helps tell the story.

This book focuses more on social interaction than the spreading of germs. It would be a great resource to teach your kids how to protect themselves and what happens to the body when it gets sick.

“A chart of ‘rules for good health’ reinforces healthful living. But what really enhances the text is the delightful color illustrations. The pictures are funny but informative.” - Science Books and Films

12. Inside Your Insides: A Guide to the Microbes That Call You Home, by Claire Earner illustrated by Marie-Eve Tremblay

Rating: 4.9 out of 5 stars

Inside Your Insides covers six microbes (AKA hitchhikers) that can live on the body and why they are important to our well-being. The six common microbes explored in this book are: bacteria, archaea, viruses, fungi, protists, and mites. Kids will learn all the places these different hitchhikers or critters can live and which ones can be bad and which ones can be good.

It has fun facts throughout the book and silly microbe jokes in the sidebars. The artwork in the book is fantastic and does a good job of complementing the story. Kids will be introduced to lots of science vocabulary, but the author does a good job introducing it so that it isn’t overwhelming.

“This book provides clear information in a friendly, amusing style that is a blast to read. ("Where will you find your collection of microbes? Everywhere! They're inside and outside of you, in your nose and mouth, in your lungs, between your toes, in your hair and eyelashes, and snuggled in the warm hollow behind your ears.")... This book is a winning mix of scientific information, humor, and fascinating facts. An excellent example of engaging science writing” Myra Zarnowski, City University of New York

13. Cute Sue Fights the Germs, by Kate Melton

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

An adorable children’s book about health and personal hygiene. Journey with Cutie Sue and her little brother as they go to the doctor due to an illness and learn all about germs. While at the doctor’s office Sue receives advice from her doctor on basic hygiene and ways to stay healthy. Sue and her brother vow to “win the fight” against germs as they follow the advice from the doctor.

A great book for kids to read. I love the rhyming story. It makes it fun to read and keeps kids engaged. Two bonuses from this book are that it teaches kids the importance of good hygiene and that doctor’s offices don’t have to be scary.

"A wonderful book! Well illustrated and fun to read. This book does a great job in teaching young children basics of hygiene, like washing hands, covering coughs, etc. Entertaining and educational at the same time." - Editorial Review

14. Wash, Wash, Wash!, by Pamela Chanko and Alicia Pardron

Rating: 4.9 out of 5 stars

This is a great board book for little kids. What better way to teach little ones the importance of washing hands than with a fun song. You can make up fun motions while reading the book for an even funnier experience. This book has great images to go along with the catchy tune of the song.

“We all sing the words of the book all day, it just sticks in your head.” - Amazon Review

15. Sherm the Germ by Dr. John Hutton illustrated by Maria Montag

Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars

A fun, little, board book with a catchy rhyme that will make it fun for little ones to follow along. You will follow “Baby” who is having fun playing until Sherm the germ comes to visit. Kids will learn about the symptoms of an infection and what the doctor would tell you to get better.

“Love this story. Such an easy way to help teach kids about germs. The pictures and storyline are easy and interesting for the young ones to follow.” - Amazon Review

16. The Berenstain Bears Come Clean for School

Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars

Brother and Sister learn all the important hygiene skills they need to help them stay healthy when everyone around them is getting sick. As usual, though, Papa Bear is slow to follow suit and may have to learn the hard way.

A great addition to the Berenstain Bears' collection. It teaches the importance of covering your coughs and sneezes, washing hands, and making good decisions to stay healthy.

“This book is a fabulous reinforcement of why we all need to cover coughs and sneezes, wash hands, and make good decisions for wellness. Our toddler follows examples in books very well so this book is very much appreciated.” - Amazon Review

17. Magic School Bus: The Giant Germ, by Anne Capecia and Joanna Cole, Illustrated by John Speirs

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Join Ms. Frizzle's class as they go for a picnic that turns into one of her infamous field trips. Ride along with the class as they take a journey learning about mold on a sandwich, being thrown into a compost bin, being baked inside a loaf of bread, and more. You will learn what germs are, what they do, and why we need them.

This is a chapter book and is geared for older kids who are reading. It will be different than the early reader books and the older Magic School Bus books. It doesn't have a lot of illustrations and what it does have is in black and white.

For younger kids check out these older versions of The Magic School Bus books about germs: The Magic School Bus Inside Ralphie and The Magic School Bus Fights Germs.

"I bought this book for my children's (5 yrs and 7 yrs) bedtime reading. The younger one was interested at first but got disappointed when she saw the minimal illustrations. The older one, on the other hand, brought it to school so she could read it during her free time. She was able to read through chapter 6 of the book within 30 minutes. She said the book is educational because she learned [a lot of] information about microbes." - Amazon Review

Find the right book for your child

All of these books have great reviews and ratings with the lowest rating at 4.4. There is also a range of various reading levels. Any of the books would be a great resource to help teach children about microbes and the world around them. Each child is different in their interests though, so take time to browse through the list and find one the will fit the style of learning and reading level of your child.

Let me know what books you have used with your children to help them understand hygiene and germs? I would love to know if you have used any other resources to help your children understand germs.

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