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Best STEM Books K–12

Books Published in 2023

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Best STEM Books winners explore problems and possible solutions in the scientific world and, where applicable, in the lives of the protagonists. Instead of focusing on specific content, the Best STEM Books emphasize real-world issues that cross disciplinary boundaries.

We have chosen titles that provoke readers to examine the “thinking stance” of characters—not simply to look at actions and results.


Winning Titles

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Before Colors: Where Pigments and Dyes Come From

By: Annette Bay Pimentel, illustrated by Madison Safer
Simon & Schuster / Paula Wiseman Books

Discover how pigments and dyes come from items in the natural world including plants, mineral resources, and animal resources.

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The Brilliant Calculator: How Mathematician Edith Clarke Helped Electrify America

By: Jan Lower, illustrated by Susan Reagan

Explore the remarkable journey of Edith Clarke from a math-loving child to America’s first female electrical engineer. Her ingenious calculator helped to electrify America, bringing lights and telephones across the country.

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Building a Dream: How the Boys of Koh Panyee Became Champions

By: Darshana Khiani, illustrated by Dow Phumiruk

Based on a true story, the incredible journey of the Thai soccer team exemplifies engineering ingenuity and determination as they create a floating field, despite the challenges they face.

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Ellen Takes Flight: The Life of Astronaut Ellen Ochoa

By: Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Oliver Dominguez
Holiday House / Neal Porter Books

This book is on the life of the legendary Ellen Ochoa, the first Latina that went to space.

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Extra Life: The Astonishing Story of How We Doubled Our Lifespan (Young Readers Adaptation)

By: Steven Johnson

Advances in medicine, technology, and science and the resultant impact that each has on extending a human’s lifespan is explored in this young reader’s version of the book.

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Friend of Numbers: The Life of Mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan

By: Priya Narayanan, illustrated by Satwik Gade
Eerdman’s Books for Young Readers

The biography of mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan’s exploration of number theory and mathematical concepts.

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George Washington's Engineer: How Rufus Putnam Won the Siege of Boston without Firing a Shot

By: Darcy Pattison, illustrated by Terry Kole
Mims House

Engineering and problem-solving strategies were the winning combination that won a historical battle during the Revolutionary War.

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Giraffe Math

By: Stephen Swinburne, illustrated by Geraldo Valério
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Engaging from the very first moment! The author exemplifies divergent thinking by portraying mathematical concepts using such non standard measurement as giraffes.

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A Girl Can Build Anything

By: e.E. Charlton-Trujillo and Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Keisha Morris
Royal Fireworks Press

This is an inspiring story for young readers that shows how using imagination and perseverance, a girl can build almost anything she dreams.

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Hidden Systems: Water, Electricity, the Internet, and the Secrets Behind the Systems We Use Every Day

By: Dan Nott
Random House Graphic / Random House Children's Books

This captivating nonfiction graphic novel explores some of our society’s essential systems: ones we might use regularly but rarely think of. It explains complex subjects in a simple but elegant way, thoughtfully looking at these systems’ past, present, and future.

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How to Spacewalk : Step-by-Step with Shuttle Astronauts

By: Michael J. Rosen; Kathryn D. Sullivan
MIT Kids Press / Candlewick Press

Wonder what it is like to walk in space in a 280 pound space suit? Learn what astronauts do to prepare to walk and live on the Shuttle.

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Jerry Changed the Game!: How Engineer Jerry Lawson Revolutionized Video Games Forever

By: Don Tate, illustrated by Cherise Harris
Our Ancestories

Examine a timeline of video games and learn how Jerry impacted the way people play games today.

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Josephine and Her Dishwashing Machine: Josephine Cochrane's Bright Invention Makes a Splash

By: Kate Hannigan, illustrated by Sarah Green
Penguin Young Readers / G.P. Putnam's Sons BFYR

An everyday problem captured the engineering mind of Josephine! She was determined to improve her life and save her nails!

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Masked Hero: How Wu Lien-teh Invented the Mask That Ended an Epidemic

By: Shan Woo Liu, illustrated by Lisa Wee
Tilbury House Publishers

This tale dives into the inventive, ingenuitive mind and STEM process that created the mask in response to the plague of 1910, over a century before the modern pandemic.

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Moving the Millers' Minnie Moore Mine Mansion: A True Story

By: Dave Eggers, illustrated by Júlia Sardà
Candlewick Press

Humorously told, see how through ingenuity Mrs. Miller is able to survive with many challenges in her life.

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Never Give Up: Dr. Kati Karikó and the Race for the Future of Vaccines

By: Debbie Dadey, illustrated by Juliana Oakley
National Geographic Kids Books

This biography of Dr. Kariko shows the process, the vision, the hardship, and the perseverance that she has gone through in the development of the Covid vaccine.

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Plague-Busters!: Medicine's Battles with History's Deadliest Diseases

By: Lindsey Fitzharris and Adrian Teal
Capstone / Capstone Editions

Discover some of the world’s deadliest diseases, some of their disturbing remedies, and their brilliant breakthroughs.

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Rooting for Plants: The Unstoppable Charles S. Parker, Black Botanist and Collector

By: Janice N. Harrington, illustrated by Theodore Taylor III
Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group / First Second

This is a lyrical biography of Charles S. Parker; one of the first African American Botanists.

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Santiago Saw Things Differently: Santiago Ramón y Cajal, Artist, Doctor, Father of Neuroscience

By: Christine Iverson, illustrated by Luciano Lozano

Discover how Santiago brought together his abilities as an artist and a doctor to identify neuronal patterns and become the Father of Neuroscience.

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Sew Sister: The Untold Story of Jean Wright and NASA's Seamstresses

By: Elise Matich
Chronicle Books

Sew Sisters tells a unique story about one member of the NASA team that crafted thermal blankets to help protect the outside of the space shuttles and the astronauts onboard.

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Transported: 50 Vehicles That Changed the World

By: Matt Ralphs, illustrated by Rui Ricardo
Levine Querido

This book takes readers on a journey through time, learning about important vehicles and how they have changed our world. It includes “Facts and Stats” accompanied by gorgeous illustrations to help tell the story of these influential inventions.


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