Although science, technology, engineering, and math can be challenging subjects, they can definitely be fun. The best STEM books for kids are engaging and entertaining. And ideally they also lay an early foundation for creativity, critical thinking, curiosity, problem solving, and being open to new possibilities.
GREAT STEM BOOKS FOR KIDS
From reading together at an early age to books they can explore on their own, here are some of our favorites to get kids interested in STEM.
Ada and the Galaxies (ages 4-8)
In New York City, it never gets dark enough for Ada to see the stars. But on a trip to visit her grandparents who live on an island in Maine, Ada can’t wait for night to fall so she can enjoy one of her favorite hobbies – stargazing.
She spends the day exploring the island and soaking up all the coastal nature it has to offer. Ada enjoys it, but gets impatient saying she’s waiting all winter to see the stars.
When night time finally comes, it’s too foggy to see anything in the sky. So she and her grandfather look at pictures of stars. Here the book beautifully incorporates real images from the Hubble telescope. And Ada imagines herself among them.
She learns about galaxies and points out one that looks like a crab she saw on the island that day. She imagines herself and her grandfather blasting off in a rocket ship to space.
Just before it’s time to go to bed, Ada checks one last time… and the fog has cleared!
Finally she enjoys the night sky with her family. The book ends with an awe-inspiring illustration of the stars reflecting off of both Ada’s and her grandfather’s glasses.
Ada and the Galaxies encourages a love of stargazing, being outside in nature, and spending time with family – especially grandparents. You never know what element of nature or science will appeal to a child’s curiosity, but this book offers many beautiful occurrences and creatures of nature. The book is also filled with natural parenting themes and imagery. Ada’s bond with her family is beautifully illustrated, without ever having to be explained in words.
The artwork is exceptional, and the way the real Hubble telescope images are incorporated is spectacularly eye-catching. This review from the School Library Connection sums it up:
“Chapman uses vivid watercolor and layered photographs taken from the Hubble Space Telescope to visualize the text, showing the wildlife of the island and the wonders of the heavens. . . . Children will enjoy looking at the colorful images and learning about low and high tide, coastal creatures, and the different objects in the sky.”
Ada and the Galaxies is a sweet and subtle story that’s sure to pique your child’s interest in stargazing and exploring.
Nano: The Spectacular Science of the Very Very Small (ages 6-8)
This book gives kids an excitingly bold visual exploration of the world on a very small scale. So small we can’t see it with our eyes!
Written by an acclaimed physicist, Nano introduces readers to the tiny building blocks that make up the world around us. The book explain atoms, the elements, and other essential science concepts. It also reveals how very small materials are manipulated to create self-washing windows; stronger, lighter airplanes; and other wonders of nanotechnology.
The end of the book offers details about various scientists’ roles and the tools they use. Even complex topics are explained in an approachable and understandable way.
Astro Girl (ages 4-8)
Astrid has loved the stars and space for as long as she can remember. “I want to be an astronaut!” she says to everyone who will listen. While her mama is away, Astrid and her papa have fun acting out the challenges an astronaut faces on a space mission — like being in zero gravity, eating food from a kind of tube, and doing science experiments with the help of cookie sheets.
When at last it’s time to meet Mama at the air base, Astrid wears her favorite space T-shirt to greet her. But where exactly has Mama been? Channeling a sense of childlike delight, Astro Girl brings space travel up close for young readers and offers an inspiring ending. It makes an excellent addition to your shelf of STEM books for kids.
Now What? A Math Tale (ages 2-5)
This delightful story is a great STEM book for little kids and early readers. Your child can help solve a problem with an adorable puppy and a bag full of blocks.
Puppy wants to build a bed out of blocks, one that is wide enough and long enough for a snooze. But there aren’t enough rectangles, squares, and triangles. So, now what should Puppy do? Your child can help build, measure, count, compare and follow along as Puppy tries again and again and finally figures out how blocks of different shapes and sizes can fit together to build a bed that’s just the right size for a nap.
Kids love a lift-the-flap book, and this one does not disappoint!
Your child can discover the inner workings of eight of the most incredible flying machines of all time. With amazingly detailed drawings and more than forty flaps, young readers can meet some of the early aviators and their pioneering aircraft, peek inside a luxury flying boat, and see the technology of a rocket space plane.
Packed with fun facts, Flying Machines is the perfect introduction to planes and helicopters from all over the world.
Molly and the Mathematical Mysteries (ages 7-10)
Join Molly as she ventures into a curious world where nothing is quite as it seems. A trail of clues leads from scene to scene, presenting Molly with a number of challenges. But who is leaving the clues, and where will they lead? This interactive mystery shows math isn’t just about numbers—it’s about imagination! An explorative and creative approach to the world of mathematics.
Prompted by a note hidden beneath a flap, Molly finds herself first in a world (with, significantly, a white rabbit) where select insides and outsides are inverted. Subsequent flaps see her finding and passing through further concealed doorways into an “impossible staircase,” a maze with tessellated shapes, a set of infinitely receding hallways, and six more “implausible but not impossible” settings that likewise demonstrate some of math’s central tools and ideas—often in an interactive way that requires folding, recognizing patterns, or interlacing pre-cut elements.
Curiosity: The Story of a Mars Rover (ages 8-12)
This highly detailed, fact-filled picture book is a treasure. Kids (and adults) meet Curiosity and her mission: to discover more about the red planet and search for evidence of life.
How did Curiosity get her name? What tools does she use to carry out her tasks? The NASA rover tells how and why she traveled more than 350,000,000 miles to explore a planet no human has ever visited . . . and what she’s been doing there. Curiosity’s story is brought to life in vivid color: the deep blues of space set off the warm, rusted hues of Mars’s dusty red surface, marking this lovable rover and her mission as truly a world apart.
As a bonus companion to this book, you can watch as an astronaut reads Curiosity: The Story of a Mars Rover here from the International Space Station.
The Day the Universe Exploded My Head (ages 8-12)
Laughs and learning about with this clever STEM book. Ever wonder what the sun has to say about being the closest star to Earth? Or what Pluto has gotten up to since being demoted to a dwarf planet? Or where rocket ships go when they retire?
Listen closely, because maybe, just maybe, your head will explode, too. With poetry that is equal parts accurate and entertaining — and illustrations that are positively out of this world — The Day the Universe Exploded My Head will enthrall amateur stargazers and budding astrophysicists as it reveals many of the wonders our universe holds. Space travelers in search of more information will find notes about the poems, a glossary, and a list of resources at the end.
Speed of Starlight (ages 8-12)
Part trivia book – part master lesson on physics, light, and sound told through stunning graphic artwork, your big kid can dive deep into this book.
Designed to present physics in a totally new way, The Speed of Starlight explores the topics of physics, light, and sound alongside incredible artwork from Ximo Abadía. Visualize sonar sound, discover the speed of light, and understand basic quantum physics with easy-to-understand, engaging text by acclaimed science writer Colin Stuart.