Futuristic Visions | Computer Science & STEM Series Nonfiction

Technology is all around us. These new series provide the best ways for young readers to interact with and learn from it.


Technology is all around us. These new series provide the best ways for young readers to interact with and learn from it. There is a healthy serving of gamification, a smattering of hands-on projects, and a lagniappe of futuristic imagination in these fun STEM titles. Young scientists will consider if robo-bees can save our planet. Older tech wizards will be empowered to change the world with specialized robotic arms. Using exciting images of robots roving on Mars to scientific models of CRISPR in genetics research, these series are sure to excite readers.



Hays, Brooks Butler. Makerspace Projects for Building Simple Machines. ISBN 9781725311688.
––––. Makerspace Projects for Understanding Robots. ISBN 9781725311886.
Linde, Barbara Martina. Makerspace Projects for Measuring the Weather. ISBN 9781725311725.
––––. Makerspace Projects for Understanding Chemical Reactions. ISBN 9781725311763.
––––. Makerspace Projects for ­Understanding Newton’s Laws of Motion. ISBN 9781725311800.
Morlock, Rachael. Makerspace Projects for Understanding Plant Science. ISBN 9781725311848.
ea vol: 32p. (STEM Makerspace Projects). Rosen/PowerKids. Aug. 2020. Tr. $26.25.
Gr 4-6 –This series provides an excellent introduction to makerspace technologies. Each book offers rich sections of text that tie the history of science (such as Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions) to present makerspace tinkerers. This series covers core concepts (the water cycle and simple machines) but also examines futuristic concepts (nanotechnology). The engaging projects provided in each book are directly connected to the respective themes, which include wind power and robotics. VERDICT This fun series features projects that will have students and educators coming back for more ideas.

Fontichiaro, Kristin. Building a Blog. ISBN 9781534168718.
––––. Researching with Online Videos. ISBN 9781534168725.
Lovett, Amber. Taking Digital Notes. ISBN 9781534168732.
Matteson, Adrienne. Unboxing and Reviewing Online. ISBN 9781534168749.
––––. Using Online Portfolios. ISBN 9781534168756.
Truesdell, Ann. Collaborating with Shared Docs. ISBN 9781534168695.
––––. Creating Slide Shows. ISBN 9781534168701.
––––. Evaluating Online Sources. ISBN 9781534168688.
ea vol: illus. by Rachael McLean. 24p. (Create and Share: Thinking Digitally). Cherry Lake. Aug. 2020. Tr. $28.50.
Gr 3-5 –This series describes how children can get the most out of digital citizenship. These titles do a nice job of addressing the collaborative possibilities of private and social networks for sharing one’s story or working together on school projects. The illustrations and images depict younger children interacting with the technology, which is out of sync with the age restriction on some of the technologies mentioned. The photos and illustrations include children who are BIPOC. Some titles do not indicate that parental permission is needed to use certain online platforms (Building a Blog; Unboxing and Reviewing Online). VERDICT This series has a heavier focus on text-based instructions and tips and thus is better suited to middle graders who want to go beyond ­casual or consumptive technology usage.

Golusky, Jackie. Space Exploration Robots. ISBN 9781541596962.
Lewis, Katherine. Everyday Robots. ISBN 9781541596931.
Schaefer, Lola. Bot Battles. ISBN 9781541596979.
––––. Flying Robots. ISBN 9781541596948.
––––. Human-Like Robots. ISBN 9781541596955.
––––. Robots on the Job. ISBN 9781541596986.
ea vol: 24p. (Lightning Bolt Books: Robotics). Lerner. Aug. 2020. Tr. $26.65.
Gr 1-3 –This fascinating introduction to robotics covers robot and human interactions, from military drones to school competitions. This series skews younger and connects well to that audience through popular topics, including drones and toy-coding technology. The “Fun Facts” section will motivate readers to conduct a deeper dive into the world of robots and learn more about robo-bees. Everyday Robots is a standout, with photographs of people of diverse ages, races, and abilities interacting with the household robots. VERDICT This series features captivating examples of battling and racing robots paired with familiar community helper robots. Readers will want to learn more.

González, Echo Elise. Algorithms. ISBN 9780716628859.
––––. Coding Languages. ISBN 9780716628866.
––––. Debugging. ISBN 9780716628903.
––––. Hardware. ISBN 9780716628842.
––––. Logic in Coding. ISBN 9780716628873.
––––. Order in Coding. ISBN 9780716628880.
––––. Organizing Data. ISBN 9780716628897.
––––. The Internet. ISBN 9780716628910.
ea vol: illus. by Graham Ross. 32p. (Building Blocks of Computer Science). World Book. Jul. 2020. Tr. $31.12.
Gr 3-6 –World Book’s new graphic nonfiction series depicts the wonders of computing and includes an array of characters related to computer science, such as Chip, the computer chip, and Bug, the programming error. Each character takes readers through different worlds, from physical hardware to core concepts related to coding like debugging and algorithms. These titles are rich in technological vocabulary without overwhelming readers with computer jargon. The text also respects readers’ intelligence by connecting the concepts to everyday experiences, such as gaming. VERDICT This series covers high-level information in a visually appealing way and will make a refreshing addition to a science comics or coding collection.

Murray, Julie. 3D Printers. ISBN 9781098221188.
––––. Artificial Intelligence. ISBN 9781098221157.
––––. Drones. ISBN 9781098221164.
––––. Medical Technology. ISBN 9781098221171.
––––. Virtual Reality. ISBN 9781098221195.
––––. Wearable Technology. ISBN 9781098221201.
ea vol: 24p. (High Technology). ABDO/Dash!. Aug. 2020. Tr. $28.50.
K-Gr 4 –These titles show how technology has advanced throughout history and how it may progress in our everyday lives. By focusing on technology found in modern homes, this series connects to readers’ shared experiences on topics such as virtual reality gaming and cochlear implants while also igniting their imaginations for future possibilities. 3D Printers is the star of this series; it not only discusses the uses for the technology, but also breaks down the processes in additive design into bite-size, easy-to-follow steps. VERDICT The subjects paired with the elementary reading level make this series excellent support material for makerspaces and libraries with high technology.

Owings, Lisa. Gaming’s Greatest Moments. ISBN 9781541590519.
––––. Pro Gaming. ISBN 9781541590472.
––––. The World of Esports. ISBN 9781541590489.
Waxman, Laura Hamilton. The Business of Gaming. ISBN 9781541590526.
––––. Superstars of Gaming. ISBN 9781541590502.
––––. Women in Gaming. ISBN 9781541590496.
ea vol: 24p. (The Best of Gaming (UpDog Books)). Lerner. Aug. 2020. Tr. $26.65.
Gr 3-5 –Featuring famous faces such as Fortnite star Tyler “Ninja” Blevins and legendary video game creator Shigeru Miyamoto, this highly visual series will attract reluctant readers who have a passion for gaming. The text provides insider details about the arenas of world championship esports competitions and streaming events. Professional gaming is depicted as an incredibly competitive and exciting field. The inclusion of well-known games, including newer hits like Fortnite and older classics like Halo, will appeal to young gamers and adults. Gaming slang and tips are fun additions, which give the audience breaks between the subjects covered. VERDICT The vibrant photographs of highlighted celebrities and champions of the gaming industry paired with shorter snippets of text are sure to attract reluctant readers.

Wood, John. Code Monkeys Fix Bugs. ISBN 9780778781493.
––––. Code Monkeys Use Logic. ISBN 9780778781509.
––––. Code Monkeys Use Technology. ISBN 9780778781516.
––––. Code Monkeys Write Algorithms. ISBN 9780778781523.
ea vol: 24p. (Code Monkeys). Crabtree. Jul. 2020. Tr. $23.60.
Gr 1-4 –This series uses silly monkeys and a vibrant jungle theme to examine introductory coding and related computer technology. The combination of photographs, real code, and humorous illustrations brings each main idea to life. The pages are designed to resemble web pages that the reader is browsing through, with the code monkeys as their guides. Each title includes sample code, which teaches early coders about conditionals, algorithms, and Boolean data while also comparing functions and uses for various programming and scripting languages. VERDICT Colorful illustrations and simple examples make coding concepts accessible to beginners.



Allman, Toney. Changing Lives Through Genetic Engineering. ISBN 9781682828410.
Kallen, Stuart A. Changing Lives Through Artificial Intelligence. ISBN 9781682828397.
Marcovitz, Hal. Changing Lives Through Self-Driving Cars. ISBN 9781682828458.
Nardo, Don. Changing Lives Through 3-D Printing. ISBN 9781682828472.
––––. Changing Lives Through Robotics. ISBN 9781682828434.
Roland, James. Changing Lives Through Virtual Reality. ISBN 9781682828496.
ea vol: 80p. (Tech Effect). ReferencePoint. Oct. 2020. Tr. $30.95.
Gr 6 Up –This series uses a mixture of scientific models and photographs to synthesize information in a very effective, targeted way. The deep topical dives provide scientifically literate text to accompany the expressive images. Topics in this series, such as self-driving cars, are covered in a balanced way that dispels myths and fears without idealizing technology. Changing Lives Through Genetic Engineering is a standout for its unbiased delivery of information. The text addresses the serious implications of genetic modification while still expressing the need for more research in the field before some conclusions can be made. This honest treatment of science is refreshing and encourages teens to read skeptically and critically. However, the photos used throughout depict doctors and scientists exclusively as white people, and people of color are depicted as patients and subjects of study. VERDICT High interest topics that are salient to today’s teens make this series a valuable purchase for high school STEM collections.

Kaminski, Leah. Biohackers. ISBN 9781629208398.
––––. Bionic Bodies. ISBN 9781629208367.
––––. Cloning Humans. ISBN 9781629208374.
––––. The Science of Cancer. ISBN 9781629208381.
ea vol: 32p. (STEM Body). Full Tilt. Aug. 2020. Tr. $27.99.
Gr 5-8 –This series explores the future possibilities of STEM advances. Each title offers an attention-grabbing introduction that reads like the opening scene of a science fiction film. There are high- and low-tech examples of STEM modifications to the body, from wearables that track sleep patterns to designer babies. The historical time lines list advances and discoveries in science and pair well with the spotlighted individuals who are not only scientists, but also cancer survivors and celebrities. Topical breakdowns in highlighted chapter sections clearly indicate how each concept uses science, technology, engineering, and math individually rather than as a general catchall of STEM. Biohackers is the benchmark for the series. It discusses ethics, laws, and personal safety alongside cutting-edge ideas, such as electronic implants. VERDICT Teens and tweens will appreciate the futuristic ideas in this series on STEM and the body.

For reluctant readers, “The Best of Gaming” (Lerner) will not only hold their attention, but also foster hope that they too could be the next Fortnite champion superstar. Code Monkeys (Crabtree) is an excellent introduction to the building blocks of computer science and coding that is charmingly funny without feeling condescending to the reader. While most of the titles in “STEM Body” (Full Tilt) are exciting, Biohackers goes above and beyond to empower teen scientists to delve deeper than what they learn in biology classrooms.

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