STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math and it is a popular topic around our house. My kids are lucky enough to have a STEM lab in their elementary school and get time each week to create and learn more about STEM from a designated teacher. During the summer I have dedicated Wednesdays to our SUMMER STEM LAB where we explore different themes and test out different STEM toys and kits.
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This week we are focusing on STEM books – I wanted to share our experience with littleBits super cool robot kits but I am off to Washington DC to speak at the Scholastic Reading Summit and I can’t upload a video on the plane wifi… I think there is a lesson in here somewhere about leaving things to the last minute. Robots will have to wait one more week, but if you want a little preview check out littleBits here.
Rosie Revere Engineer by Andrea Beaty is more than just a book about an engineer who happens to be a young girl; it is about not being afraid to be different, especially when being different is amazing. It’s not always easy to march to the beat of your own drummer, and Rosie has a hard time at first but after a pep talk from a special mentor everything changes.
Iggy Peck Architect also by Andrea Beaty is a hilarious and touching book about a young boy named Iggy, who doesn’t just like to build, he HAS to build. It’s in his bones. Not everyone appreciates his talents but in the end his ability to build and solve problems saves the day. I love the rhyming text that never sacrifices the perfect word for a rhyme, it all just fits.
Awesome Dawson by Chris Gall was an instant hit with both my children. Dawson is an amazing little boy who invents new things from other people’s trash. Dawson is just like other children who try to find ways to get out of their chores so he can get back to the important work of play. He’s one step ahead of most kids though and invents a robot to take care of this chores, but things don’t go as awesome as he hoped. That’s when he must re-invent himself into a superhero to save the day. I really love this book and how inspiring it is for kids exploring the idea of invention and tinkering.
Fraidyzoo by Thyra Heder is a wonderfully creative book about a family who creates zoo themed costumes from A-Z in an attempt at guessing which animal at the zoo their youngest child is afraid of. The homemade costumes captures the spirit of the maker mentality and after reading this with my daughter she was off to create her own. Perfect right? The book is also a really great lesson about fears and how your family can be your support if you allow them to.
Have Fun Molly Lou Lemon by Patty Lovell is all about how Molly Lou Mellon uses her imagination when other children use toys that do all the playing for them. When a new neighbor Gertie moves in Molly Lou Mellon stays true to herself even with Gertie’s super cool toys and even shows her new friend how to use her imagination.
Monkey with A Tool Belt and The Noisy Problem by Chris Monroe is a hilarious book about a monkey who is not only handy with his tools, he is also a fantastic problem solver. The perfect combination to demonstrate to young readers what STEM is all about. He creates, builds, and fixes the noisy problem. This whole series of books are fantastic and the author-illustrator is a genius at combining a fun story with illustrations that will suck kids in. Do not try to read this in a hurry because each page deserves a long long look at every single detail.
11 Experiments That Failed by Jenny Offill is hilarious. My son and I first read this book many years ago and immediately he started designing his own experiments. The book follows a young scientist as she conducts 11 terribly misguided experiments around her home, all with terrible and hilarious consequences. Besides the dry humor the best part of this book is that each experiment follows the scientific method!
The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires is an important addition to this list because while the end product is important, this story focuses on the process of creating, and failing. Making amazing things is awesome but it’s not always an easy road and this book tackles the idea that failing, and trying again is part of the creation process.
Mechanimals by Chris Tougas isn’t just about a farmer who builds robot animals when his are swept away in a tornado, it’s about overcoming adversity. What is a farmer supposed to do when his animals are gone? Certainly not admit defeat, use what you have and create something new! What an incredible lesson in resourcefulness, problem solving, and determination. Awesome book!
If I Built A Car by Chris Van Dusen is so much fun and will remind parents of The Jetsons, at least it reminded me of that childhood favorite of mine. A little boy takes you through the incredible car that he built and every awesome extra special feature it has. Like Andrea Beaty, Chris Van Dusen manages to create a fantastic rhyming book that is zips along so effortlessly that you wonder how they do it. The story is inviting and the illustrations invite readers to dive even further into the author’s imagination.
If I Built A House by Chris Van Dusen is even BETTER than If I Built A Car, at least I think so, which is why I bought it. I love how this book inspires children to create house plans for themselves and imagine their own dream house. The details in the illustrations captivated me, and the little inventions included in the house got us all wondering what we would invent for our house. Great book to spark the maker mentality in all readers.
Do you have a favorite STEM picture book perfect for preschool or kindergarten? Tell me about it here in comments or on my No Time For Flash Cards Facebook Page.
Anything by Chris Van Dusen is awesome! I buy all of his books for my grandkids.
Don’t forget to check out Violet the Pilot by Steve Breen
I love this list! As a mom and an engineer, I hope my kids take an interest in STEM, and books like these are a great intro. I will check these out!
Christina Washington says
Ms Pearl Makes a Discovery! As an Engineer, Physicist, and the Author, I can personally attest to the quality and educational component of this children’s book. It also has a corresponding activity kit for readers to recreate the kid friendly experiments performed in the book. The book is currently available on Amazon.com
Iselsharisse Megahan says
It is almost a certainty that most who read this will not understand, but if I were to purchase ONLY books that featured (or acknowledged) people of color, I could not make one purchase from among these of which you rave. And you may not get this either, but … this is rather egregious, and simply not right.
Folks put girls on the cover of story books so that little girls can relate; see themselves in the character. And so why not black children, brown, yellow, and green.
A pig and a monkey get represented, and the bulk of us know that this it will never be true that they will be scientists. Kids of color don’t even make the cut. Abusrdity, yet too close to home.
Allison McDonald says
You are exactly right – there is a serious deficit of books with people of color as the main character. I have a stack at home waiting for me to write a book list. There is a book called ” Ida Twist Scientist” which the main character is a young girl of color who is a scientist, it wasn’t out yet when I wrote this list.