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Best STEM Books K–12

Books Published in 2022

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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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Action!: How Movies Began

By: Meghan McCarthy
Simon & Schuster / Paula Wiseman Books

Lights, camera, action, and popcorn. Have you ever wondered who invented movies? Starting in the late 1800s to the present, travel through time and learn how movies changed from still pictures, silent, to action films through the years.


The Amazing World of Video Game Development

By: Denis Galanin

Going deeper than just coding, this story profiles the varied people, skills and jobs needed to bring a video game to your screen.

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American Murderer: The Parasite That Haunted the South (Medical Fiascoes)

By: Gail Jarrow
Astra Publishing House / Calkins Creek

A medical mystery that narrates STEM thinking as the mystery of hookworm is slowly unraveled. With the parasite identified, the story then looks at how multiple disciplines can come together to help improve community health.


Bear Builds a House

By: Maxwell Eaton III
Holiday House / Neal Porter Books

Bear and his friends engage in a story filled with STEM thinking as they build a house.


Blast Off!: How Mary Sherman Morgan Fueled America Into Space

By: Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Sally Wern Comport
Astra Publishing House / Calkins Creek

A well-illustrated telling of Mary Sherman Morgan developed the rocket fuel used to launch the first Juno I to put America’s first satellite, the Explore I, into orbit. An excellent STEM tale showing the process of planning, experimenting, failing, and trying again.


Blips on a Screen: How Ralph Baer Invented TV Video Gaming and Launched a Worldwide Obsession

By: Kate Hannigan, illustrated by Zachariah Ohora
Random House Children's Books/Alfred A. Knopf

The story of how one man brought applied his skills and leveraged his curiosity to develop video games for television.


Break Down: Explosions, Implosions, Crashes, Crunches, Cracks, and More...A How Things Work Look at How Things Don't

By: Mara Grunbaum
National Geographic Kids Books

A browsable book that allows children to not only think about how things work but also how they don’t.


Concrete: From the Ground Up (Material Marvels)

By: Larissa Theule, illustrated by Steve Light
Candlewick Press

Through witty text and engaging illustrations, readers discover the past, present, and future of this everyday building material. Learn how concrete has radically changed the human-engineered world.


Edward Lorenz and the Chaotic Butterflies

By: Robert Black, illustrated by Christopher Tice (cover)
Royal Fireworks Press

This story explores how a pursuit to understand weather resulted in Lorenz discovering what has been called the Butterfly Effect which ultimately influenced our understanding of the chaos theory.


How Science Saved the Eiffel Tower

By: Emma Bland Smith, illustrated by Lia Visirin
Capstone / Capstone Editions

The story takes the reader on a journey through time as Gustave Eiffel uses innovative thinking to convince the Parisians that the tower should stay.


How to Hear the Universe: Gaby González and the Search for Einstein's Ripples in Space-Time

By: Patricia Valdez, illustrated by Sara Palacios
Random House Children's Books/Alfred A. Knopf

A decade after Einstein presented his theory of ripples in space, Gaby Gonzolez, was the lead scientist on the LIGO project that helped prove Einstein’s theory. Ripples do exist in space.


Imhotep of Ancient Kemet

By: Ekiuwa Aire, illustrated by Anastasia Kyrpenko and Simbarashe Langton Vera
Our Ancestories

Imhotep was a questioner, curious about everything. That curiosity led him to design his first “step pyramid” as a child when he was building with reeds and mud.


In Our Garden

By: Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Melissa Crowton
Penguin Young Readers / G.P. Putnam's Sons BFYR

A charming tale of persistence and patience as a class creates a community rooftop garden. Young children will be introduced to the STEM skills of planning, collaboration, data collection, and measurement as the diverse student characters work in the garden.


Lion Lights: My Invention That Made Peace with Lions

By: Richard Turere & Shelly Pollock, illustrated by Sonia Possentini
Tilbury House Publishers

Read Richard Turere’s heartening story of how he created an awareness around the crisis facing lions in Kenya.


The Mystery of the Monarchs: How Kids, Teachers, and Butterfly Fans Helped Fred and Norah Urquhart Track the Great Monarch Migration

By: Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Erika Meza
Random House Children's Books/Alfred A. Knopf

A wonderfully illustrated book showing scientists and citizen scientists using STEM practices to solve the mystery of where monarch butterflies go during the winter. This text also includes further resources and information with regards to the monarch butterfly.


No Boundaries: 25 Women Explorers and Scientists Share Adventures, Inspiration, and Advice

By: Gabby Salazar and Clare Fieseler
National Geographic Kids Books

Examine the thinking stance of 25 different inspirational women who have accomplished different incredible feats.


Penny, the Engineering Tail of the Fourth Little Pig

By: Kimberly Derting and Shelli R. Johannes, illustrated by Hannah Marks
Capstone / Capstone Editions

A delightful and clever retelling of the classic story where the fourth, little pig uses her science and engineering knowledge to save her three brothers from the wolf.


Science Comics: Bridges: Engineering Masterpieces

By: Dan Zettwoch
Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group / First Second

An engaging presentation of STEM by exploring types, limitations, and advantages of different types of bridge in a comic format. The evolution of bridges are traced through as new problems required new solutions using real world examples.


Show and Tell! Great Graphs and Smart Charts: An Introduction to Infographics

By: Stuart J. Murphy, illustrated by Teresa Bellón

Through appealing illustrations and relevant examples, this book shows readers how to present information with symbols and artwork.


Sleuth & Solve: Science: 20+ Mind-Twisting Mysteries

By: Ana Gallo, illustrated by Victor Escandell
Chronicle Books

Can you solve mysteries using science while playing? Individually or create a research team and use your knowledge, logical deductions, the principles of STEM to find the answers to mysteries that occur in our world with a little twist.


Something Great

By: Jeanette Bradley
Levine Querido

Quinn is a child who truly believes they have invented “something great” and they persist even when no one sees the greatness they do.


Superpower?: The Wearable-Tech Revolution (Orca Think, 7)

By: Elaine Kachala, illustrated by Belle Wuthrich
Orca Book Publishers

This book showcases past and present examples on how technological innovation has helped people thrive in our daily life accompanied by beautiful illustrations and questions on ethical issues on technology use.

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What Is Math?

By: Rebecca Kai Dotlich, illustrated by Sachiko Yoshikawa
Christy Ottaviano Books / Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

A creative way to consider our understanding of math is presented through a variety of different poems.


Zhang Heng and the Incredible Earthquake Detector

By: Randel McGee

This book presents the invention of the Chinese earthquake detector which successfully predicted many earthquakes. The shadow puppets used in the illustrations have added to the cultural authenticity of this picture book.


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