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39 Picture Books that Teach STEM & STEAM Concepts

When you teach kids Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM), you set them up to be problem-solvers for life! Many of the books in this vibrant collection feature biographies of inventors, scientists, artists, and innovators, and tell the stories of how ordinary people looked at the world a little bit differently and made life-changing discoveries.

Other titles in this collection feature complex ideas presented in an inviting way for elementary and middle school-age readers. These books provide thoughtful answers to so many questions, including, “How do we know that the world is round?,” “What is a fractal?,” and, “How did doctors heal soldiers before the invention of modern medicine?”

Astronaut Training by Aneta Cruz, illustrated by Olivia Aserr

When Astrid’s first space mission goes disastrously wrong, she realizes she needs a bit more training than she thought!

CATastrophe!: A Story of Patterns by Ann Marie Stephens, illustrated by Jenn Harney

Nine kittens go on an exciting boating adventure that’s a (funny) catastrophe in this playful picture book that demonstrates the key math concept of patterns.

The Reason for the Seasons by Ellie Peterson

We all know there are four seasons in a year. But HOW do we know? Join intrepid young scientist-adventurer Joulia Copernicus on a journey around the world as she explains with humor and wit how we know what causes the seasons.

It’s a Round, Round World! by Ellie Peterson

We all know the earth is round. But HOW do we know? Join intrepid young scientist-adventurer Joulia Copernicus as she takes readers on a historical journey through time and space.

Buzzing with Questions by Janice N. Harrington, illustrated by Theodore Taylor, III

Can spiders learn? How do ants find their way home? Can bugs see color? All of these questions buzzed endlessly in Charles Henry Turner’s mind. As the first Black entomologist, he was fascinated by plants and animals and bugs.

Sea Lions in the Parking Lot: Animals On The Move In A Time Of Pandemic by Lenora Todaro, illustrated by: Annika Siems

Twelve fascinating real-life stories of creatures around the globe who reclaimed their habitat during the COVID-19 quarantine show animal lovers and aspiring citizen scientists how to help wildlife by fighting habitat loss.

Grow by JoAnn Early Macken, illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman

An ideal birthday or baby gift, Grow is a triumphant celebration of how young animals—and people—grow into unique individuals.

Growing Patterns by Sarah C. Campbell, photographed by Richard P. Campbell

The biggest mathematical mystery in nature—Fibonacci numbers! Named after a famous mathematician, the number pattern is simple: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13. . . . Each number in the sequence comes from adding the two numbers before it. What’s the mystery? The pattern crops up in the most unexpected places…

Mysterious Patterns by Sarah C. Campbell, photographed by Richard P. Campbell

Nature’s repeating patterns, better known as fractals, are beautiful, universal, and explain much about how things grow. Fractals can also be quantified mathematically. Here is an elegant introduction to fractals through examples that can be seen in parks, rivers, and our very own backyards.

Infinity: Figuring Out Forever by Sarah C. Campbell, photographed by Sarah C. Campbell and Richard P. Campbell

What is infinity? Explore this fascinating and complex math concept and its purpose in our world in this picture book that both demystifies and explains.

STEM/STEAM Biographies:

Blast Off: How Mary Sherman Morgan Fueled America into Space by Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Sally W. Comport

The inspirational story of Mary Sherman, the world’s first female rocket scientist, who overcame gender barriers and many failures to succeed.

The Flying Man: Otto Lilienthal, the World’s First Pilot by Mike Downs, illustrated by David Hohn

Here is the little-known history of Otto Lilienthal, a daring man whose more than 2,000 successful flights inspired the Wright Brothers and other aviation pioneers.

Fearless Flyer by Heather Lang, illustrated by Raúl Colón

A National Science Teachers Association Best STEM Book. Discover a thrilling moment in history when pioneering aviator Ruth Law attempted to do what no other aviator had done before: fly nonstop from Chicago to New York.

Prairie Boy by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

In this book about Frank Lloyd Wright for kids, young readers will learn all about America’s first world-famous architect.

Jack Knight’s Brave Flight: How One Gutsy Pilot Saved the US Air Mail Service by Jill Esbaum; Illustrated by Stacy Innerst

High-flying history is brought to life in this suspenseful story of an unknown and daring pilot named Jack Knight, who in 1921 flew his biplane straight into a blizzard over America’s heartland and saved the US Air Mail Service in the process.

Dorothea’s Eyes by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Gérard DuBois

“An excellent beginner’s resource for biography, U.S. history, and women’s studies.” – Kirkus Reviews. Here is the powerful and inspiring biography of Dorothea Lange, one of the founders of documentary photography.

The Leaf Detective by Heather Lang, illustrated by Jana Christy

Meg Lowman was determined to investigate the marvelous, undiscovered world of the rainforest treetops. Meg’s perseverance and creativity allowed her to achieve this goal, but when this fantastic ecosystem started to disappear, Meg needed to act quickly.

Wood, Wire, Wings by Kirsten W. Larson, Illustrated by Tracy Subisak

This riveting nonfiction picture book biography explores both the failures and successes of self-taught engineer Emma Lilian Todd as she tackles one of the greatest challenges of the early 1900s: designing an airplane.

Born to Swing by Mara Rocklidd, illustrated by Michele Wood

Here is the story of “Hot Miss Lil” Hardin Armstrong, legendary jazz pianist, composer, and bandleader–and a female pioneer on the music stage.

“Smelly” Kelly and His Super Senses by Beth Anderson, illustrated by Jenn Harney

James “Smelly” Kelly used his super-senses and intelligence to make sure that the New York City subway in the 1930s ran safely throughout his lifetime and beyond.

Cyrus Field’s Big Dream by Mary Morton Cowan

Explore the extraordinary achievement of Cyrus Field and one of the greatest engineering feats of the 19th century: laying a transatlantic telegraph cable to create instant communication between two continents.

Jacob Riis’s Camera by Alexis O’Neill, illustrated by Gary Kelley

This revealing biography of a pioneering photojournalist and social reformer Jacob Riis shows how he brought to light one of the worst social justice issues plaguing New York City in the late 1800s–the tenement housing crisis–using newly invented flash photography.

Full of Beans by Peggy Thomas, illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham

Famous car-maker and businessman Henry Ford loved beans. And he showed great innovation with his determination to build his most inventive car–one completely made of soybeans.

Girl with Brush and Canvas by Carolyn Meyer

The life of artist Georgia O’Keeffe is revealed in this biographical novel — from her childhood when she decided to be an artist, through her art education in Chicago and New York, to her eventual rise to fame in the American Southwest.

Ben Franklin’s Big Splash by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by S.D. Schindler

Here is the story of Ben Franklin’s first invention, his journey through the scientific method, and the surprising successes that result when you’re willing to make mistakes.

Books from our Favorite STEM/STEAM Series:

Medical Fiascoes Series: Ambushed!: The Assassination Plot Against President Garfield, American Murderer: The Parasite that Haunted the South, and Blood and Germs: The Civil War Battle Against Wounds and Disease by Gail Jarrow

The Medical Fiascoes series examines important moments in nineteenth-and early-twentieth-century America when medical blunders, ignorance, and inexperience led to suffering and death. With a focus on the individuals at the center of each medical disaster—patients, physicians, scientists—each book reveals the true story behind the heartbreaking events. Yet from these tragedies came advancements in knowledge, paving the way for life-saving treatments, cures, and prevention. 

Mouth Math: The Perfect Split and Super Zero by Lori Haskins Houran, illustrated by Deborah Melmon, The Twelve-Bug Day by Lisa Harkrader, illustrated by Deborah Melmon

Each read-aloud book in the Mouse Math series focuses on a single, basic math concept and features adorable mice, Albert and Wanda, who live in a People House. Entertaining fiction stories capture kids’ imaginations as the mice learn about numbers, shapes, sizes and more. Over 3 million copies sold worldwide!

Eureka! The Biography of an Idea: Camera by Laura Driscoll, illustrated by Hector Borlasca, Glasses by Lori Haskins Houran, illustrated by John Joven, Light Bulb by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld, illustrated by Stephanie Dehennin, and Bicycle by Lori Haskins Houran, illustrated by Aaron Cushley

EUREKA! Great things happen when science crosses history! Discover the all-true stories of your favorite inventions with this new multicultural STEM series that takes readers on a journey through time and around the world. A perfect choice for kids ages 4–8 who love to figure out how things work!

The Arithmechicks: Arithmechicks Take Away, Arithmechicks Take a Calculation Vacation, Arithmechicks Play Fair, and Arithmechicks Add Up by Ann Marie Stephens, illustrated by Jia Liu

These playful picture books demonstrate key math concepts such as fractions, addition, and subtraction in stories featuring the Arithmechicks, 10 math-loving chicks.

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