If you are looking for STEM activities for summer learning, I’ve gathered up my favorite new STEM picture books and paired them with something fun to do. For more STEM books and activities, check out my posts here.
How about you? Are you planning STEM or STEAM activities with your children? I’m going to make a solar-powered oven with my son to cook s’ mores. I just hope our streak of rainy weather here in Boston ends soon!
Picture Books about The Life Cycle
Caterpillar and Bean (A First Science Storybook) by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by Hannah Tolson
The life cycle of caterpillars and bean plants are presented in an easy-to-understand and engaging way. The book explores the symbiotic relationship between the bean plant and the caterpillar. Pair with The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. (This book also lends itself to book clubs for kids since there is a built-in extension activity to grow a bean plant from seed.) [picture book, ages 2 and up]
Caterpillar to Butterfly by Frances Barry
The caterpillar lifecycle is presented in rhyme through a series of fold-out pages that, when all are revealed, turn into a flower. This is a clever and engaging presentation. Pair with books from A Multicultural Round Up of Butterfly Books. [picture book, ages 3 and up]
Soar High, Dragonfly! by Sheri Mabry Bestor, illustrated by Jonny Lambert
Did you know that the green darner dragonfly migrates across the country? This is the exciting story of the life cycle of a dragonfly and the journey it takes. Watch the green darner dragonfly migration in West Virginia. [picture book, ages 5 and up]
The Very Impatient Caterpillar by Ross Burach
I love how this picture book uses humor to teach the STEM concept of metamorphosis and the challenge of being patient! Kids will relate to the impatient caterpillar while learning about all the stages it goes through to become a butterfly. The graphic novel style will have kids wanting to read this over and over. Pair this book with this video on a time-lapse Monarch Butterfly metamorphosis. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
The Environment and Our Place in the World
You Are Never Alone by Elin Kelsey, illustrated by Soyeon Kim
For kids who are stressed out by messages that our environment is in crisis, the message in this book is meant to be a more hopeful message of our earth’s resiliency and our place in the world. The beautiful collage illustrations add a sense of optimism and reinforce that we live in a beautiful, precious place. Pair with Kate Messner’s The Brilliant Deep: Rebuilding the World’s Coral Reefs: The Story of Ken Nedimyer and the Coral Restoration Foundation which tells the story of what it takes to rebuild our coral reefs. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Inside Outside by Anne-Margot Ramstein and Matthia Arégui
Use this wordless picture book like a game to show the world around us from both an inside and outside perspective. Sometimes, this means that the page spread will show a detail of a larger landscape. Other times, inside versus outside is a fence or a shelter or a human organ at work. [pictute book, ages 4 and up]
Where’s the Llama? An Around-The-World Adventure by Frances Evans, illustrated by Paul Morgan plus a lot of other people
This is a Where’s Waldo style of book but it takes the reader around the world. In the process of searching and finding the llamas, readers will be exposed to different cultures and their celebratory events. There are ten llamas to spot on each page spread too! [picture book, ages 6 and up]
Learn About Individual Plants and Animals
The Night Flower by Lara Hawthorne
This is the story of the saguaro cactus found in the Sonoran desert covering the southwest in the United States and the northwest in Mexico. The illustrations remind me of A Seed Is Sleepy! Learn about the desert ecosystem in this beautiful nonfiction picture book and spot the animals that live amongst the saguaro. The details of this book make it special from the textured cloth cover to the extra thick creamy paper of the pages. Learn about why the saguaro cactus needs a microchip to protect against theft! [pcture book, ages 3 and up]
Little Fox in the Snow by Jonathan London, illustrated by Daniel Miyares
It’s an adventurous day for a young fox as hunts on a snowy day only to be hunted itself. Safe at last in its cozy burrow, the fox sleeps, perhaps dreaming of new adventures. This is an engaging story that also teaches the reader about the red fox. Pair with The Fox Diaries by Valarie Budayr of the red fox family in her backyard in Tennessee. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Gecko by Raymond Huber, illustrated by Brian Lovelock
The gecko is a fascinating creature with its ability to change colors to camouflage itself for protection. But did you know that the gecko also eats its discarded skin and tail? These are the details that will delight kids! With a mix of a narrative story of the drama in the day of the life of a gecko as well as facts about geckos, this book is the perfect blend of nonfiction/fiction. Pair with Animal Camouflage (A True Book: Amazing Animals). [picture book ages 5 and up]
Dingo by Claire Saxby, illustrated by Tannya Harricks
Learn about Australia’s wild dog, the dingo. The illustrations are bold oil paintings bringing art into this nonfiction picture book that tells the story of a mother hunting to feed her pups. Additional sidebars of informative text give more information about Dingos, their packs, and how they hunt. Pair with Frane Lesac’s A is for Australian Animals to learn more about creatures that live down under. [picture book, ages 5 and up]
Hello, I’m Here by Helen Frost, photographs by Rick Lieder
In rhyming verse, this book tells the story of a sandhill crane chick as it pecks its way out of its shell and finds its way into the world with the help of mother sandhill crane. Photographs of the sandhill crane family make it easy to fall in love with these beautiful birds. Learn more about sandhill cranes including protecting their environment from the Crane Trust. [picture book, ages 2 and up]
Superlative Birds by Leslie Bulion, illustrated by Robert Meganck
This book works double duty: it’s poetry paired with science notes on birds! Beautifully illustrated with a bird that narrates throughout, this is a fun, humorous, and informative way to draw kids into bird watching! Pair with this free bird journal from Doodles and Jots. [picture book nonfiction, ages 8 and up]
Karl’s New Beak: 3-D Printing Builds a Bird a Better Life by Lela Nargi
Karl is an Abyssinian ground hornbill with a special challenge. His lower bill had broken off and, because of the way that this bird species eats, he had to adapt to find new ways to eat. Using 3-D printing technology, Karl’s friends at the National Zoo and the Smithsonian Institute found a way to help Karl! Pair this book with the video below. [nonfiction picture book, ages 4 and up]
The Home Builders by Varsha Bajaj, illustrated by Simona Mulazzani
With graceful rhymes, this book explores animal shelters in a woodland as a variety of creatures build homes for their young. Build a nest using found materials on a nature walk. [picture book, ages 3 and up]
Even More Lesser Spotted Animals: More Brilliant Beasts You Never Knew You Needed to Know About by Martin Brown
Learn about 21 spotted animals that you’ve never heard about in this fun and informative book that brings a comic book appeal to the animal world. Pair with this video of a kangeroo rat jump kicking a snake to escape! [picture book, ages 7 and up]
STEM Picture Book Notables
The Boy Who Grew a Forest: The True Story of Jadav Payeng by Sophia Gholz, illustrated by Kayla Harren
Only by growing plants, the earth will survive.
On an island in India, deforestation and erosion caused havoc on the creatures. A boy, Jadav Payeng, wanted to do something about it. With a gift of ten bamboo plants from the village elders, he planted a grove and tended it carefully until it became a thicket. But he didn’t stop there. He would spend the rest of his life devoted to growing a forest that would bring back the woodland creatures including the elephants and tigers. Pair with Mama Miti and plant a tree where you live or donate money grow one elsewhere. [picture book, ages 5 and up]
The Dinosaur Expert by Margaret McNamara, illustrated by G. Brian Karas
Kimmy loves dinosaurs but she’s too shy to share her knowledge on the school field trip to a natural history museum. It’s here, though, that she learns about a female paleontologist, Dr. Brandoni de Gasparini, that inspires her to speak up. Learn about T Rex (which is not fiercest!) and watch fun dinosaur videos on my post here. Meet Mary Anning who discovered some of the very first dinosaur fossils and laid the groundwork for the brand new field of paleontology in this animated video. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Picture Books with STEM Games
Who Pooped? A Matching and Memory Game
Take a topic that fascinates kids and turn it into a fun book extension game by pairing with Everyone Poops by Taro Gomi.
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.