15 STEM Picture Books To Inspire Budding Scientists | Summer Reading 2021

STEM picture books center science, math, and more to connect the dots for young readers.

Two book covers

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Science and math take a starring role in these stories that explore everything from the deep sea to outer space. 

I’m Trying To Love Rocks by Bethany Barton. illus. by author. Viking. Jun. 2020. ISBN 9780451480958.

This charming, brightly colored book shares a heap of information about Earth and rocks, resulting in a playful primer in geology.

Dear Earth…from Your Friends in Room 5 by Erin Dealey. illus. by Luisa Uribe. HarperCollins/Harper. 2020. ISBN 9780062915320.
Gr 1-4–Small changes add up to big results, as Dealey’s classroom full of kids—white, Black, brown, pink, one with glasses, another with metal crutches—become monthly pen pals with Earth in lessons that encompass climate change, life sciences, and global cooperation.

Nose Knows: Wild Ways Animals Smell the World by Emmanuelle Figueras. What on Earth Bks. ISBN 9781912920075.

This large-format picture book describes the ways animals use their sense of smell as a guide to find food, bond with offspring, impress a potential mate, and more.

The Ocean in Your Bathtub by Seth Fishman. illus. by Isabel Greenberg. HarperCollins/Greenwillow. ISBN 9780062953360.

Starting by examining their own bathwater, children how oceans affect us—the role of the water cycle in providing fresh water, food, and oxygen; the impact of the ocean on everyday life; and the need to confront problems like climate change and pollution. 

Beehive by Jorey Hurley. illus. by author. S. & S./Paula Wiseman Bks. ISBN 9781481470032.

Readers learn that bees explore to find the perfect place for a hive, which they then build as a team. Eggs are laid, nurtured, and grow. Pollination is covered as is the lengths bees go to in defending their hives.

Egg by Amy Sky Koster. illus. by Lisel Jane Ashlock. Creative Editions. ISBN 9781568463513.

This creative board book introduces young readers to bird eggs with different shapes, colors, and designs.

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Listening to the Stars: Jocelyn Bell Burnell Discovers Pulsars by Jodie Parachini. illus. by Alexandra Badiu. Albert Whitman .. 2021. ISBN 9780807545638.

Parachini’s historical picture book spotlights the Irish astrophysicist Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell (b. 1943), who discovered the first radio pulsars while she was a research assistant at the University of Cambridge. The narrative showcases how Burnell discovered her love for astronomy and overcame sexism. This book could be read in a science unit that emphasizes the empowering message that everyone can study STEM fields. 


Hey, Water! by Antoinette Portis. illus. by author. Holiday House/Neal Porter Bks. ISBN 9780823441556.

This simple introduction to water is an ideal read-aloud for the youngest scientists.

The Boy Who Invented the Popsicle: The Cool Science Behind Frank Epperson’s Famous Frozen Treat. by Anne Renaud. illus. by Milan Pavlovi. Kids Can. ISBN 9781525300288.

During an unusual cold snap in 1905 in his native California, Epperson experimented by leaving a glass of flavored soda water outside overnight. The next morning he discovered his water had frozen solid—creating a delicious treat.

Pluto Gets the Call by Adam Rex. illus. by Laurie Keller. Beach Lane/S. & S. ISBN 9781534414532.

An ingeniously funny informational picture book that takes readers on an imaginative journey through the universe. 

Glacier on the Move by Elizabeth Rusch. illus. by Alice Brereton. West Margin Pr. ISBN 9781513262307.

Travel with a glacier named Flo as it moves through different seasons and landscapes. 

A Search for the Northern Lights by Elizabeth Rusch & Izzi Rusch. illus. by Cedar Lee. West Margin. ISBN 9781513262901.

In this informational picture book, a young girl is fascinated with celestial phenomena. After watching a solar eclipse, Alix yearns to also witness the beauty of auroras. The child does her research and learns where the best viewing spots are in the world. 

What Color Is Night? by Grant Snider. Chronicle. ISBN 9781452179926.

Snider helps children (and adults) look beyond the darkness and see the beautiful colors that appear in the night.

One Is a Piñata: A Book of Numbers by Roseanne Greenfield Thong. illus. by John Parra. Chronicle. ISBN 9781452155845.

This companion to Green Is a Chile Pepper and Round Is a Tortilla makes learning numbers in English and in Spanish a fun fiesta for young readers. 

Professor Astro Cat’s Deep Sea Voyage by Dominic Walliman. illus. by Ben Newman. Flying Eye. ISBN 9781912497898.

In this oversize informational picture book, readers explore the many parts of the sea, learning about human actions that are a threat to the ocean and methods to practice ocean conservation.

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