Oxygen keeps you alive, by F M Branley, illustration Don Maden, 1971


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could wax poetic for a million years over the awesomeness of vintage “This Is a Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science Books”. Still in print in updated and often re-illustrated versions, the new editions hold a world of important and vital info for kids, but nothing beats the old school charm of the originals. (See Don Madden’s A Drop of Blood — original versus the reprint and Is There Life In Outer Space? — original versus the reprint.) The original series was illustrated by a ton of great old timers, and each volume is a delight for the eyes as well as the mind. Regardless, I buy them old, new, whatever… they are that cool and chock-full of basic scientific facts.

For now, let’s focus on a favorite all about that stuff we inhale.

When you are awake, you breathe. When you are asleep, you breathe. Every minute of every day you breathe air. Without it, you could only live a few minutes. Part of the air that you breathe is oxygen. You cannot see the oxygen, any more than you can see the air. But there is oxygen in every breath you take.

What a wonderful way to introduce young ones to simple scientific concepts. Once you figure out how to spot these little same-sized hardcovers at the thrift shop, you’ll get obsessed with collecting them. The perfect purse size, I always seem to have one floating around in there.

I’m not sure how many were in the series, but just for reference, I’m going to use the term “dozens”. Here’s a short write up on Dr. Branley and how the series came about, if you’re interested. Packaged “lots” of them come up on eBay all the time if you are looking to start in bulk. Not to be missed!


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