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21 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-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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Blood and Germs by Gail Jarrow 

The science and grisly history of U.S. Civil War medicine, using actual medical cases and first-person accounts by soldiers, doctors, and nurses, is explored in this fascinating nonfiction book for young readers.

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.