Do you know this education buzzword: STEM? I don’t think you can attend a school open house or PTA meeting these days without hearing it, but it doesn’t seem like everyone actually knows what it means.
STEM quite simply stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. STEM is a curriculum approach that encourages interdisciplinary teaching in the areas of all four of these disciplines that teaching a different way of look at problems and the world.
I think from this new interest in STEM education buzzing around our preschools and up has in part caused the huge explosion of amazing STEM themed children’s books in recent years.
My daughter is fascinated by animals and general inquiry. My son is forever engineering and experimenting. STEM is a great fit for my family and integrating picture books into that learning is of course where I naturally go.
These days whatever you are learning about – there is likely to be a STEM related picture book to entertain, engage, and education as part of your exploration or unit.
Leaves? Yup, there are beautiful ones.
The Ocean? Oh goodness – SO many.
Outerspace? Here’s a week’s worth.
This month’s A Read A Day challenge is going to dive us into a big pile of STEM themed picture books. This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, but hopefully it will point you in the right direction to find your next favorite STEM themed picture book.
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31 STEM Books for Preschoolers
1. Read a Book about Science, Technology, Engineering, and/or Math
I shared this list a while ago with some of our favorite STEM books. It is definitely a good starting place for STEM titles. This is a broad, test the waters prompt. Anything that you have on your shelf related to this month’s theme works here. We’ll dive into more specifics below.
2. Read a Book about Making Mistakes
The Marvelous Thing That Came from a Spring
by Gilbert Ford
Did you know that the Slinky was a mistake? It was an accidental invention and I love the example this gives kids of how sometimes mistakes are the best thing that could possibly happen. We discovered this one in our STEM Reads Box and we are smitten.
3. Read a Book about Questions
Little Kids First Big Book of Why
by Amy Shields
My kids were gifted this when they turned 3 – you know, right around the time they start asking “why” to absolutely everything and apparently never stop? It was a perfect gift and three years later is still a well loved book on our shelf.
4. Read a Book about Experiments
LEGO Chain Reactions
I mentioned above that one of my kids is obsessed with experiments. He loves coming up with his own and following ones laid out for him in various books. I’ve lost track of how many experiment books we own and how many we have borrowed from the library. There are a lot of good ones, but this is his current obsession at it is great.
5. Sunday Author Spotlight: Read a Book by Jess Keating
by Jess Keating
I recently heard Jess Keating interviewed on a podcast I listen to and she is just as interesting and funny and down to earth as you would imagine reading her books. Make sure to pop over to her site for loads of useful resources.
Shark Lady was one of our obsessions over the summer. It is beautiful and fascinating. A rare and wonderful biography for kids about a really cool woman and scientist.
6. Read a Book about Dirt, Rocks, or Plants
If You Find a Rock
Photos by Barbara Hirsch Lember Written by Peggy Christian
This rock gave me a whole new appreciation for the rocks my kids bring into our house by the pocket-full. Gorgeous photography and simple poetic language.
7. Read a book about a Woman Scientist
The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes: The Story of Dr Patricia Bath
by Julia Finley Mosca
How is it possible that I have not heard of Dr. Patricia Bath until I read this book? Granted I don’t spend a lot of time in the world of eye doctors, but still. She is awesome. Julia Finley Mosca articulates Dr Bath’s laundry list of accomplishments with a poetic, rhyming style that carries you through her life story in a way that is far from the boring, droning resume reading style of so many children’s book biographies. Instead, you are left in awe of an incredible woman and her barrier breaking career inspired by a chemistry set, encouraging parents, and an inquisitive girl. My daughter loved this book. She saw her self in the curious little New Yorker who plays with her brother and I can only hope she saw how much amazing potential the world carries for people who drive, bravery and perseverance like Dr. Bath.
8. Read a Book about Weather
My son went through a huge weather phase where he was interested in all things thunderstorms, tornadoes, etc. You can find A Week’s Worth of Weather Read Alouds and our Preschool Weather Unit if you have a kiddo similarly intrigued.
9. Read a Book about Outerspace
Moonshot : The Flight of Apollo 11
by Brian Floca
We are a huge fan of Brian Floca and this book is no exception. Stunning illustrations, fascinating information, and amazing retelling of the story of Apollo 11 for the next generation. It is just one of many awesome books about space, but it is a favorite in our house.
10. Read a book about Animals
You can find picture books about most animals these days. I have a current obsession with picture books about whales. There are a host of truly incredible books about whales right now. Here are my absolute favorites.
11. Read a book about the Human Body
There are so many wonderful books about the human body for kids. Our favorites are HERE.
12. Sunday Author Spotlight: Read a book by Douglas Florian
I think Douglas Florian – like all poets – is a love it or just don’t get it kind of thing. I personally love his super quirky sense of humor and his poems tend to deal with fascinating things in the science realm. He has covered almost every topic in the world of natural science in his amazing career and they just keep coming.
Poetrees is my most recent Florian discovery. My kids are excited about Fall and the changes to our neighborhood trees so I found this one at the library. What I love about Douglas Florian is how he seamlessly combines poetry with scientific fact and humor.
13. Read a book about Technology
It’s a Book
by Lane Smith
This one is more about the differences between reading a book and using a computer. It is all about the love of books and it is hilarious.
14. Read or Listen to a Book Online
YouTube has a huge range of picture books being read aloud. This channel is my follow place to find great read alouds –>> Storyline Online
15. Read a Book about Robots
Doug Unplugged by Dan Yaccarino
Charming story about a little robot who unplugs one day and heads out into the world. There are a few in the series if you fall in love with sweet little Doug like we did.
16. Read a Book about Tablets or Phones
by Mac Barnett
There are a few books about phones and this one is less about technology but it is the best one I had on my shelf. It is also a delight for anyone who remembers playing this game as a kid.
17. Read a book about Computers or Coding
Lift the Flap Computers and Coding
by Rosie Dickins
This colorful lift the flap way is a fun introduction to computers and coding.
18. Read a book about an Invention
Oscar and the Bird: A Book about Electricity
by Geoff Waring
This one is all about electricity and my son wore his copy out reading it again and again before bed. We learned a lot about machines that need electricity to work and why we always need to be careful around wires, batteries, plugs, and sockets.
19. Sunday Author Spotlight: Read a book by Andrea Beaty
Andrea Beaty really gained a following with the launch of Iggy Peck Architect, but she has written a huge collection of wonderful books. Visit her website and I think you will be pleasantly surprised with how many friends you see on her authored bookshelf – if not you have a ton of books to look for now!
Ada Twist, Scientist is my favorite by Beaty. It is the third in her little sort of series that started with Iggy. I love them all, but I truly adore spunky Ada and I love her parents. I want to be her parents for my children.
20. Read a Book about Engineering
If I Built a Car
by Chris Van Dusen
This one is about creativity, imagination and engineering in it’s most fabulous way. Chris Van Dusen writes fantastic read alouds and this one had my kids full of ideas for tinkering and building afterwards.
21. Read a book about How Things Work
See Inside How Things Work by Conrad Mason
This is a fascinating lift the flap book about machines and gadgets from car engines and toilets to submarines and more. For a kid who wants to understand how everything works, this is perfect. 3+
22. Read a Book about an Inventor
Violet the Pilot
by Steve Breen
Violet is a mechanical genius who loves building flying contraptions. The kids at school think she is odd, but Violet is determined to show everyone at the Air Show when she wins the blue ribbon. On the day of the big event disaster strikes keeping Violet from the show. How will she win respect now? Violet is an endearing character who will have you rooting for her from start to finish.
23. Read a Book about Tools
by Bruna Barros
There are a ton of fun books about tools but I am newly in love with this little wordless gem. A little boy, his dad and some tools. That is all it takes to make this little book a magical story about imagination. This one leaves me feeling full of possibility.
24. Read a Book about Building
Building Our House
by Jonathan Bean
Inspired by an amazing true story, Building Our House is the story of a family that buys a piece of land and slowly builds their own house. Step by step the reader is walked through what it takes to build a house. The tools, the foundation, the insides, and most importantly the time. An afterward shares Jonathan Bean’s story that he remembers primarily through photographs taken during the five years it took his parents to build their home. He tells the story through the eyes of his oldest sister. A daring adventure for a young family to undertake that demonstrates fortitude and patience that is rarely seen in today’s world. A remarkable story and fascinating look at the details involved in creating a home. 2+
25. Read a Book about Cars or other Vehicles
The Racecar Alphabet
by Brian Floca
This is an alphabet book and adrenaline rush of a car race all at once. It is well paced and creative and another fun one to read aloud.
26. Sunday Author Spotlight: Read a book by Steve Jenkins
If your kid loves animals then Steve Jenkins is a name you need to know. His nonfiction books about animals span everything from odd to quirky to icky to adorable and every single one is fascinating. Check out his website for more information. I particularly love this section on where he gets his ideas.
Actual Size is a super cool book about the size of things. It really brings to life the amazing size of animals in a way that just reading the stats can’t possibly do justice.
27. Read a book about Math
by Kate Banks
This is a silly book encourages looking for problems to solve, finding creative solutions, and celebrates math in all forms along the way.
28. Read a Counting Book
Little Houses : A Counting Book by Helen Musselwhite
Darling book that reminds me of the great Mitsumasa Anno. Bright colorful houses and a whole host of things to count. 2+
Also Read ->> Favorite Counting Books for Kids.
29. Read a Book that Encourages Adding or Subtracting
When the Teddy Bears Came
by Martin Waddell
This sweet classic is the story of a little child who gets a new baby in the family. One by one family and friends come and bring teddy bears. It’s a nice book to read aloud but also a fun one to do some addition with as the bears appear.
30. Read a Book about a Mathematician
Ada’s Ideas: The Story of Ada Lovelace
by Fiona Robinson
Ada Lovelace was the World’s First Computer Programmer and has been the subject of several picture books in the past couple of years. I love the textured illustrations in this one.