Just wanted to mention that I saw in the nytimes reviews that there are two new children's books about Jane Goodall that came out recently which I'm looking forward to picking up for my kids. I can't think of a better subject to illustrate values of intellectual curiosity and conservation.
On the other hand, we have a bunch of the Berenstain Bears books that we inherited from some relative that I can't wait to get rid of. It's not that the lessons or concepts are horrible, they mostly seem to try to emphasize reasonable concepts, but they're so tedious ... the mother and father bear are just so unlikable, it's a chore to read them. I can't wait for the kids to be as tired of them as I am.
I agree about the Bernstein Bears. I have one on manners and one on stranger danger, but I can't really stomach much of them. I have a huge Dr. Seuss collection in all of his nom de plumes. My kids love Thomas the Tank Engine which I find dull.
If you can find them, my kids really enjoy the kidumentaries done by Dave Hood (ie the Real Wheels collection). They only have one Steve Irwin movie which they like, unfortunately, it does often require explaining that he won't be making any more movies because he is dead over and over since they forget. They also adore the Magic School Bus. I have both the books and some of the movies.
My kids like animals, dinosaurs, space, volcanoes, transportation, the military, pirates and art, so we try to find as much as possible on the subjects they like. Unfortunately, my youngest is super into princesses and has been for ages. I have had about enough princesses - especially Disney princesses.
I don't really have many problems finding any topics that I can't find useful books and programs that aren't religious. (But I mainly stick to PBS products.) My kids love, love, love Nigel Marven and his dinosaur series Chased by a Dinosaur, Prehistoric Park, 10 Most Dangerous Seas, etc. I am not sure if he's from Australia or New Zealand, but he is great. All the CGI dinosaurs and sea monsters are made to move and look as realistic as possible. He also uses a really cool animation to explain the timeline that these events happened. My kid's favorite is Ten Most Dangerous Seas. It's the one with the coolest timeline. He does talk about evolution in depth. I think it's mainly for animals like the rhino, hippo, birds and definitely the crocodile. You can view them online at NetFlix. Here's a link to Chased by a Dinosaur: http://www.amazon.com/Chased-Dinosaurs-Nigel-Marven/dp/B00017LVSM/r...
While I really like the series that starts with "Born With a Bang". What I don't love about them is the way that the Universe becomes the story teller, almost a replacement for god as creator. Nice story, but a bit too 'new agey' for my taste.
Also, the Daniel Loxton book. I wanted to like it a lot but I guess it just didn't fit my needs as well as a few other books. Mainly because he spends time refuting typical creationist claims which I don't feel the need to address just yet to my 5 & 8 yo. I want them to think about evolution as fact and not worry about what other people believe. Amazon does have it listed as a middle grade book, so probably it will become more useful for us when they are older.
What has been the best resource for evolution and pre-history in general for us are the Charlie's Playhouse materials, particularly the timeline and the Ancient Creature Cards.
I've enjoyed the Loxton book. I liked that he refutes the fundy view, mostly because I live where it's pretty rampant and have had to inoculate my kids, 8 & 6, already. My husband has been reading Terri Pratchett's Tiffany Aching series. It's for older kids, but we have had a great time reading them aloud as a family.
I also dislike the Berenstein Bears stuff. I just can't understand why Mama Bear is always in her PJs.
lots of kids' science books and toys at thinkgeek. like this:
I read a book to my three year old called "God did". It's an exceptionally tedious screed consisting of a child asking a question like "who made the sky?" and the parent brushing it off with the non-answer "God did". I read the book to her and then said "what did you learn from that book?". She replied "Nothing..."
A couple of books I particularly like that I bought for my daughter are
Bugs are Insects
Which is basically about classification
Are You a Ladybug
Evolution is a really hard concept for young kids. I have Dawkins' new book but it's really for older children. What young kids do like though is science books, books about their universe. They like to know stuff.
Hope this helps