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Review: Michael Faraday and the Dynamo by Mabel Miller

michael faraday

Without the discoveries of Michael Faraday, one of the greatest scientists of all time, our lives would be unrecognizable.  In fact, our civilization is firmly based on the concepts he discovered about electricity and other matters.

Yet this great man, one of Einstein’s three heroes (the others were Newton and Maxwell), began life as a poor, almost starving blacksmith’s son.   He did so well as an uneducated newspaper delivery boy that he was offered a free apprenticeship in the bookbinding trade.  There he began to read the books he bound and was introduced to writings about the science topics that had always fascinated him.  And then his family scraped together money for him to attend some scientific lectures….

Mabel Miller’s warm biography follows Faraday’s work with the great British scientist Sir Humphrey Davy, his trip to the continent, marred but not spoiled by Davy’s snobbish wife, his marriage to Sarah, and his thousands of experiments at the Royal Society.  She mentions Faraday’s many awards and honors, none of which meant much him, and tries to give the reader an understanding of his importance to our civilization.

With respect for the man Faraday as well as for the reader, Miller shows matter-of-factly how Faraday’s deep faith shaped his life and his work.  “What higher goal can a man set than to reveal God’s creation?”  asked his wife Sarah, echoing Faraday’s viewpoint exactly.

Although Miller does not whitewash Faraday, she does present him as a good and noble man.  In fact, she writes, “… youth needs heroes to emulate, and it these days of stretching horizons it needs heroes not only of its own country, but of the world.  Michael Faraday, I feel sure, is one of the giants.”

More recent, colorful, science-filled books about Faraday are available for young people, but as an introduction I much prefer Mabel Miller’s Michael Faraday and the Dynamo.  It shows us Faraday, the boy, the youth, and the man as well as the scientist.  It is a book that enters our heart, gives us a new hero, and puts us into a different world.  Charlotte Mason would call it a living book, and I can think of few higher compliments.

Michael Faraday and the Dynamo, a biography for young people that will also appeal to adults, is of the calibre of Carry On, Mr. Bowditch and And Tomorrow the Stars, both of which I’ve read aloud and reviewed (links are to my reviews).  This book, too, would make an excellent read aloud, and is next on our list after we finish Tom Sawyer. It would also be a very good choice for science and math reading.

I highly recommend Michael Faraday and the Dynamo as a history or science supplement as well as for general reading enjoyment.  It was published in 1968 for young people, but is suitable as an introduction for adults as well, and is worth buying if you can find it second hand.

This is the kind of book I would recommend for your teen’s science and math reading

This is the first book in the in the 2015 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge and is also linked to Saturday Reviews, Booknificent Thursdays, Finishing Strong,Trivium Tuesdays.

Disclosure: I borrowed this book from friends and have expressed my own honest opinions.


  1. Kenda says:

    Your review sounded so nice, I just ordered from Abebooks! I don’t even have any homeschoolers left. What was I thinking?! We loved Carry On, Mr. Bowditch!

    1. Annie Kate says:

      That’s so funny, Kenda! I think you’ll enjoy it even if your kids are all grown up. I loved it and can’t wait to read it aloud. We’re finishing Tom Sawyer today, and then we can start this one.

      1. Kenda says:

        I just finished reading the Michael Faraday book. It’s great!! Thanks.

        1. Annie Kate says:

          I’m so glad you liked it! I’m still reading it aloud to the girls and they enjoy it too.

  2. Robin says:

    We enjoyed Carry On, Mr. Bowditch so would probably like Faraday as well. I know my guys would enjoy reading it. Will be on the lookout for it. Great review.

    1. Annie Kate says:

      Thanks, Robin. I hope you find it!

  3. amy says:

    Sounds like a great book. Thanks for the review!

  4. Sadly, I hardly know anything at all about this great man. This book is definitely going on our reading list! Thanks for sharing it at Booknificent Thursday.

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