July 12, 1909|
New York City
December 5, 1994 (aged 85)|
Plantation Key, Florida
|Alma mater||Columbia University|
|Occupation||naturalist, author, or, and educator|
|Known for||Golden Guides|
Zim was born 1909 in New York City, but spent his childhood years in southern California. At the age of fourteen he returned to the east, and took his degrees (B.S., M.S., Ph.D.) at Columbia University.
Zim wrote or ed more than one hundred scientific books, and in a thirty-year career teaching in the public schools introduced laboratory instruction into elementary school science. He is best known as the founder in 1945 (and, for twenty-five years, or in chief) of the Golden Guides, pocket-size introductions for children to such subjects as fossils, zoology, microscopy, rocks and minerals, trees, wildflowers, dinosaurs, navigation and more. He was the sole or co-author for many of the books, which were valued for their clarity, accuracy and attractive presentation—helped by the illustrations of James Gordon Irving and Zim's friend Raymond Perlman.
He moved to Florida with his wife, the anthropologist Sonia (Sonnie) Bleeker, and continued to work on the Golden Guides series until Alzheimer's disease forced him to slow down in the 1990s. He died in 1994 at Plantation Key, survived by his second wife, Grace Showe, and two sons.