Thursday, June 30, 2022

7 Days of Books for Children, Day 5 STEM and Historical NF

Here we are on Day 5 of #7DaysOfBooks with STEM/STEAM-related topics and historical nonfiction. 

I grouped these two categories together because they often are inter-related. Discoveries in science happen over time and our knowledge builds on all that has come before. Plus, if we want to know where we are heading in the future with scientific discoveries and where our values and priorities might lie with new technologies, then we need to have a clear understanding of where we've come from. 

Interest in the sciences, math and technology runs deep through my family roots--at least as far as I can tell. My great-grandfather ran a train-engine repair shop as a superintendent on one of the railroad lines in Pennsylvania. My father is an electrical engineer whose early career involved getting photographic transmissions from space. 

The arts are often linked with science as well. Not only was STEM was broadened to STEAM, many early naturalists were creatives and made detailed illustrations of the plant and animal specimens that they studied and collected in the field. On that end my mother has been a creative for as long as I've known her. I grew up in a house where the walls were decorated in painted designs rather than wall paper, and pottery pieces were part of every room's decor since she was and still is a potter. She also gardens, and holds a keen understanding of how things grow--which is its own kind of science--and then brings the harvest in to make the most savory of dishes.

Roots. Our History. Our understanding of the world and how things are connected. It's all intertwined. Or, at the very least, they're connected for today's post.

A Penny's Worth
, written by Kimberly Wilson, illustrated by Mark Hoffman (Page Street Kids 2022)

This story is worth every cent and more. Packed with fun puns and word play, Penny's journey to find her self-worth in a world of other more valuable currencies comes to life with the energetic illustrations. The cast of charismatic characters, along with sprinklings of money math, educational back matter, and layers of social-emotional learning make this a perfect book for every family and classroom. I imagine this one will see many repeated readings.

A Dinosaur Named Ruth 
written by Julia Lyons, illustrated by Alexandra Bye (Simon & Schuster 2021).

When a young girl finds dinosaur bones and fossils on her ranch in South Dakota, her curiosity is sparked about where they came from. Determined to one day discover what kinds of animals the fossils belong to, Ruth doesn't give up on trying to get experts to look at her findings. Students will be inspired to make observations about nature and learn about interactions between organisms and their environment in their own backyard. The lyrical and engaging text, vibrant illustrations, and interesting story line make this book a perfect introduction to changes in habitats over time, conducting research, and following one's dream.

The Three Little Pigs and the Rocket Project written by Lynne Marie, illustrated by Wendy Fedan (Mac and Cheese Press 2022).

When the class at Fairy Tale Elementary are given an assignment to build toss rockets in order to see which rocket will fly the furthest, everyone is excited except Bibi Wolf. Despite trying to hold back her competitors, Bibi's big bad breath actually helps the rocket of one pig fly the furthest. This story is a fun introduction for any STEM building project in the classroom. The back matter even includes instructions for making toss rockets. 

Jack Horner, Dinosaur Hunter, written by Sophia Gholz, illustrated by Dave Shephard (Sleeping Bear Press 2021).

The study of scientific topics and the nature of discovery come alive in this comic-style picture book about the world-renowned paleontologist, Jack Horner, who discovered the first dinosaur egg fossils and consulted on the Jurassic Park dinosaur movies (among many other things). Although he had severe dyslexia, Jack Horner didn't let trouble with reading stop him from pursuing what he wanted to do. Plus, he loved hands-on science, and the illustrations in this book do a superb job of bringing the scientific experiments that interested Jack to life. I highly recommend this book for its engaging and interesting text and fast-paced story-telling.

Kid Scientist. Marine Biologists on a Dive
written by Sue Fliess, illustrated by Mia Powell (Albert Whitman 2022). 

Because this book shows how large marine organisms are studied, it pairs wonderfully with CRAB BALLET (shared on Nature and Animals Day 2 post), which focuses on inter-tidal ocean life, and THE BRILLIANT DEEP, which focuses on restoring ocean reef habitats. The straight-forward text shows science-in-action as five friends take to the ocean with different tasks. Incorporating many parts of the scientific method, the illustrations and text are engaging enough to plant the seeds for developing an appreciation for life found in our underwater ocean world. I predict much curiosity will be sparked among young readers.

Birds of Prey. Terrifying Talons
written and illustrated by Joe Flood (First Second 2022).


Need I say more? This book is part of a nonfiction comic series that includes other titles like CROWS, CATS, and ROCKS & MINERALS. Packed full of information that might be found on the internet or in an encyclopedia, the graphic novel-style and story line will hook kids from page one in a presentation that is so much more interesting and meaningful than an internet search. Readers will learn about eating habits, evolution, and interdependences of raptors to other animals. I highly recommend this book because it's kid-friendly, fun, and educational. 

A True Wonder. The Comic Book Hero Who Changed Everything
, written by Kirsten W. Larson, illustrated by Katy Wu (Clarion Books, 2021). 

This story about the origins of the superhero Wonder Woman shows how she got her place in the comic book industry after the same man who had picked Super Man--an idea that had been rejected by every other syndicate in the business--decided to give a female superhero a chance. As time went on, the business of maintaining the Wonder Woman comic led to employing many other real-life woman wonders. Women like Alice Marble, a former top tennis pro; Joyce Hummel, a co-writer under the name Charles Moulton; and movie director Patty Jenkins. Young readers will see how Wonder Woman isn't only a superhero, she serves as a wonderful role model for equality, justice, peace, and following your dreams.

Listen. How Evelyn Glennie, a Deaf Girl, Changed Percussion, written by Shannon Stocker, illustrated by Devon Holzwarth (Dial Books for Young Readers 2022).

Sometimes, it's the things we're told that we can't do which inspire us the most. Such is the inspiring message of this book, where a young girl going through the heart-breaking and tremendously stressful experience of losing her hearing is determined not to lose the one thing she loves--creating music. This book will not only inspire students to go after their dreams, but also open their eyes (and ears) to the physics of sound. As a science teacher, I love this book not only for its story and beautiful text, but also for the subject. In our state our students begin learning about sound and sound waves in elementary school, which lands LISTEN with an A++++

Unspeakable. The Tulsa Race Massacre
, written by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Floyd Cooper (Carolrhoda Books 2021). 

An important book that delicately and deliberately handles a troubling and until recently a largely unknown part of American history. While reading I wondered what one event, which was based on decimating a thriving Black community, would look like. The end paper photo on the back cover reveals this, which made what I was feeling all the more raw and real. The final words of the story, which point toward rejecting hatred and violence and instead choosing hope, land the story in a place of longing for peace, equality, and love.

She Caught the Light. Williamina Stevens Fleming: Astronomer
, written by Kathryn Lasky, illustrated by Julianna Swaney (HarperCollins Children's Books 2021). 

This story shows how a bright and curious girl, whose experiences began with her father's photography business, got on track to becoming an accomplished astronomer due to the gentle nudge and suggestion from the wife of Professor Edward Pickering, for whom she worked as a housekeeper. This story shows how far one can go with a little help from others, and especially since Williamina's journey of classifying stars put her on a path toward connecting with other accomplished female scientists making discoveries in the field of astronomy.

Nothing Stopped Sophie, written by Cheryl Burdoe, illustrated by Barbara McClintock (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers 2018).

Even though Sophie Germain grew up during a time of social inequality--when women were not allowed to practice mathematics or sciences, she persevered and kept doing what she loved to do. She focused on becoming self-taught in math, because she loved how it helped find order and balance in the world. In doing so, she was able to solve what had been deemed an unsolvable problem, which was to come up with a mathematical equation for describing/predicting waves for the way sand grains created patterns on a glass plate when exposed to vibrations. However, solving it didn't come easily. She failed two times before finding success, and she was the only person - a woman, no less - to do so. 

There are 3 amazing giveaways for today, so be sure to enter! Follow the guidelines in the Rafflecopter below.

1) A 30-minute zoom Q&A with author Lynne Marie

2) A signed copy of A PENNY'S WORTH from author Kimberly Wilson

3) A PB-manuscript critique or copy of A DINOSAUR NAMED RUTH from author Julia Lyon

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. You've given us so many beautiful books to discover, Shaunda! I do love your thoughtful, lovely blurbs. Many thanks for what you do!

    1. Thank you, Jennifer! Your wonderful comments make my day. I'm glad I've been able to share books that appeal. Of course, with children's books, it's hard to miss the mark. ;)

  2. Ms.nellynunez@gmail.comJune 30, 2022 at 8:58 AM

    Wonderful recommendations!

  3. Thank you for sharing these amazing stories. My daughter is always saying that she's a scientist.

    1. Hooray! Our world thrives on the spirit and energy of young scientists!

  4. Jane Martin here. I just love this list of books. There's a few I hadn't heard about. Super excited to check them out!

    1. Hi Jane! I'm so glad I was able to dig up some news ones for you to check out. Enjoy!

  5. Great list. I need to check these out!

  6. Thank you for sharing this incredible list!

  7. I think kids (and many adults) enjoy getting a glimpse of life in different eras. I know your post is focusing on non-fiction, but I've often wondered why historical fiction picture books are so rare. I absolutely loved Eliza Wheeler's HOME IN THE WOODS (which I realize is based on her grandmother's experience) and bet many children would find it fascinating. But I just can't think of many pure fiction PBs set in the past.

    1. Absolutely agree. Knowing our past is so important to understanding where we want to head in the future.

    2. Here is a fantastic post about historical fiction PBs with more wonderful books

  8. I love teaching doing STEM/STEAM challenges with my students! Books make it even more fun!

    1. Absolutely! Although I might be a bit biased as a teacher and author :)

  9. Re: the Rafflecopter: My "tweet about this" entries seemed to disappear, so I was re-entering them. Now I've realized that you were letting us retweet on different days. Sorry that I misunderstood--I'll try to go back and retweet, even though I can't re-enter the line of code.

  10. Ahhh! So many to add today! Thank you for this amazing list!

    1. so wonderful to hear, CK! Thanks for checking out another day in the week of celebration!

  11. I see some favorites and some new ones to check out! And Kim is my CP so Penny is a personal favorite. ☺️

  12. Oh man, I read Unspeakable a few months back 😭 definitely should be required reading. I will make sure the next generation learns what I didn’t learn in school. I need to check out the rest of these now! Thanks for the list.
    Hannah Roy LaGrone

  13. My favorite science topic is definitely the cosmos.

  14. Love the variety of STEM you have here. Great mentor text options

  15. I love STEM books. A Penny's Worth I know will be a favorite for me, I pick them up still if I see one on the ground!


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