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Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K–12: 2021

We invite you to explore this year's list of Outstanding Science Trade Books, which builds upon our 48-year history. In the award-winning books below, you'll find not only traditional science content but also elements of engineering and design. We hope you'll enjoy exploring science through this collection of outstanding children’s books.

Winning Titles

Animal Homes

Mary Holland
Arbordale Publishing

Take a home tour of selected bugs, birds, and mammals. Beautiful, full-page photos complement descriptions, materials, and uses of animals’ homes. A Spanish edition is available

(Also in Spanish, Las casas de los animales, by Mary Holland and Javier Camacho Miranda)

Animal Homes


Atomic Women: The Untold Stories of the Scientists Who Helped Create the Nuclear Bomb

Roseanne Montillo
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

This book is a fascinating read through the lives of the women at the forefront of nuclear science. Driven by passion and determination, these women overcame formidable obstacles while making invaluable contributions to the production of the first atomic bomb.

Atomic women


Audubon Birding Adventures for Kids: Activities and Ideas for Watching, Feeding, and Housing Our Feathered Friends

Elissa Wolfson and Margaret Barker
Quarto Group / Cool Springs Press

Do you have a young bird watcher in your life? This book will build their knowledge of birding in a fun and engaging way with a beginners’ field guide, easy-to-do activities, games, and more!

Audubon Birding


The Big Bang Book

Asa Stahl, illustrated by Carly Allen-Fletcher
Creston Books

This book provides a simple and accurate story of how the universe came to be and our place in that universe for young readers.

The Big Bang Book


The Big One: The Cascadia Earthquakes and the Science of Saving Lives

Elizabeth Rusch
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt / HMH Books for Young Readers

Follow scientists through the Pacific Northwest as they find evidence of the “Big One,” also known as the Cascadia earthquake. Could such an event happen again? Learn what the science says and how people are preparing.

The Big One


Blood and Germs: The Civil War Battle Against Wounds and Disease

Gail Jarrow
Boyds Mills & Kane / Calkins Creek

Learn more about medical horrors that ultimately led to medical advances such as sanitation in this in-depth look at the battle against diseases that caused significantly more casualties than the war itself.

Blood and Germs


Bones: An Inside Look at the Animal Kingdom

Jules Howard, illustrated by Chervelle Fryer
Candlewick Press / Big Picture Press 

Dive into this book to discover how the structure of an animal’s bones can tell us much about what it eats, how it moves, where it lives, and where it came from.



Born Curious: 20 Girls Who Grew Up to Be Awesome Scientists

Martha Freeman, illustrated by Katy Wu
Simon & Schuster / Paula Wiseman Books

This collection of short biographies of twenty ground-breaking female scientists from different backgrounds and life experiences shares how curiosity drove them to pursue careers in science.

Born Curious


Bright Dreams: The Brilliant Inventions of Nikola Tesla

Tracy Dockray, illustrated by Tracy Dockray 
Capstone / Capstone Editions

This book follows Nikola Tesla from being a young child desiring to be an inventor through his adult life persevering to become an inventor who changed electricity for all.

Bright Dreams


Changing the Equation: 50+ US Black Women in STEM

Tonya Bolden 
ABRAMS / Abrams Books for Young Readers  

This book is filled with the profiles of notable, inspiring, and pioneering black women in STEM. Their accomplishments and contributions throughout American history are an inspiration to all women of color.

Changing the Equation


Condor Comeback

Sy Montgomery, photographed by Tianne Strombeck
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt / HMH Books for Young Readers

Engage in every aspect of California Condor conservation and management by peering over the shoulders of the biologists and volunteers who work to keep the Condor from extinction.

Condor Comeback


Darwin's Rival: Alfred Russel Wallace and the Search for Evolution

Christiane Dorion, illustrated by Harry Tennant
Candlewick Press / Candlewick Studio

A lavishly illustrated guide to the fascinating explorations of Alfred Russel Wallace, who discovered the theory of evolution—but Charles Darwin got there first.

Darwin's Rival


Dinosaur Lady: The Daring Discoveries of Mary Anning, the First Paleontologist

Linda Skeers, illustrated by Marta Álvarez Miguéns
Sourcebooks / Sourcebooks Explore

Follow Mary Anning on her fearless exploring and thirst for knowledge that led to the formation of paleontology as a scientific field of study.

Dinosaur Lady


Exploring the Elements: A Complete Guide to the Periodic Table

Isabel Thomas, illustrated by Sara Gillingham
Phaidon Press

A marvelous overview of the elements with clear explanations, delightful historical details (cobalt was called “goblin metal”), and descriptions of modern uses. This book is an essential guide for classrooms and budding scientists.

Exploring the Elements


Grow: Secrets of Our DNA  

Nicola Davies, illustrated by Emily Sutton 
Candlewick Press

This book introduces readers to DNA in a clear, engaging manner, beginning with plants and animals, then connecting to humans.

Grow: Secrets of Our DNA


If You Take Away the Otter

Susannah Buhrman-Deever, illustrated by Matthew Trueman
Candlewick Press

With colorful scenes and an engaging story of the sea otters’ history, readers will learn about the important role one species can play in keeping an ecosystem healthy, and the ways people learned from their actions and helped sea otters survive.

If You Take Away the Otter


Journey Under the Arctic 

Fabien Cousteau and James O. Fraioli, illustrated by Joe St. Pierre
Simon & Schuster / Margaret K. McElderry Books

Adventure underneath the world’s coldest ocean to discover how Earth’s changing climate affects the inhabitants of the ocean.

Journey Under the Arctic


Jumbo: The Making of the Boeing 747

Chris Gall, illustrated by Chris Gall
Macmillan Children's Publishing Group / Roaring Brook Press 

Describing the engineering it took to put the Boeing 747 in the skies, Jumbo details the design process and how this incredible machine became “Queen of the Skies.”



The Kitchen Pantry Scientist: Chemistry for Kids: Homemade Science Experiments and Activities Inspired by Awesome Chemists, Past and Present

Liz Lee Heinecke
Quarto Group / Quarry Books

These thoughtful, interesting experiments are based on various biographies of scientists, many of whom have been forgotten or marginalized.

The Kitchen Pantry Scientist


Marjory Saves the Everglades: The Story of Marjory Stoneman Douglas

Sandra Neil Wallace, illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon 
Simon & Schuster / Paula Wiseman Books 

This book is a beautifully illustrated biography of Marjory Stoneman Douglas who advocated for designating the Florida Everglades as a national park. Her lifelong environmental activism helped save the diverse animal and plant species living in the Florida Everglades.

Marjory Saves the Everglades



Henry Cole, illustrated by Henry Cole
HarperCollins Children's Books / Katherine Tegen Books

Through beautiful text and illustrations, learn about the life of a hatch of robins as its parents support the robins’ survival.



North Pole / South Pole: From Pole to Pole: A Flip Book

Michael Bright, illustrated by Nic Jones
Quarto Group / words & pictures

North Pole? South Pole? Are they really that different? With this fact-filled and engaging flip book, you can discover and compare the natural and human environments in both places.

North Pole South Pole


Old Enough to Save the Planet

Loll Kirby, illustrated by Adelina Lirius
ABRAMS / Magic Cat

This empowering book shares the stories of twelve young climate activists who are raising awareness in their communities and the world at large to save the planet from the devastating effects of global warming.

Old Enough to Save the Planet


Packs: Strength in Numbers

Hannah Salyer
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt / HMH Books for Young Readers

This beautifully illustrated story teaches children that animal group behavior is important for survival with actions such as finding food and defending themselves against predators.



Pika Country: Climate Change at the Top of the World

Dorothy Hinshaw Patent and Marlo Garnsworthy, photographed by Dan Hartman
Web of Life Children's Books

Learn about the Pika and how climate change endangers these mammals.

Pika Country


Plasticus Maritimus: An Invasive Species

Ana Pêgo, Isabel Minhós Martins, illustrated by Bernardo P. Carvalho
Greystone Books Ltd. / Greystone Kids

Biologist Ana Pêgo collected, named, and cataloged a terrible new species: Plasticus maritimus, also known as the plastic waste that is destroying the world’s oceans.

Plasticus Maritimus


The Polio Pioneer

Linda Elovitz Marshall, illustrated by Lisa Anchin
Alfred A. Knopf BFYR an imprint of Random House Children’s Books

The Polio Pioneer is an inspiring story of Dr. Jonas Salk and how his hard work and dedication to the field of medicine helped discover a vaccine for polio.

Polio Pioneer


Pretty Tricky: The Sneaky Ways Plants Survive

Etta Kaner, illustrated by Ashley Barron
Owlkids Books

An amazing look at the insidious, thieving, and downright deceptive ways that plants obtain resources and protect themselves to survive the challenges of life.

Pretty Tricky


Return from Extinction: The Triumph of the Elephant Seal

Linda L. Richards
Orca Book Publishers

This fact-filled ecological success story recounts how elephant seals were once hunted to extinction but are now a thriving species once more.

Return from Extinction


Sea Otters: A Survival Story

Isabelle Groc
Orca Book Publishers 

Discover how the sea otter impacts the ecosystem of the Pacific Ocean.

Sea Otters


To Fly Among the Stars: The Hidden Story of the Fight for Women Astronauts

Rebecca Siegel
Scholastic / Scholastic Focus

Excitement, disappointment, perseverance, and success permeate this book that tells the tale of the men and women of the Mercury space expedition.

To Fly Among the Stars


What Do Scientists Do All Day?

Jane Wilsher, illustrated by Maggie Li
Quarto Group / Wide Eyed Editions

Discover the daily actions of different scientists on a visual tour of fourteen different places, from a nature reserve to an energy plant.

What Do Scientist Do All Day


What Do You Do If You Work at the Zoo?

Steve Jenkins and Robin Page, illustrated by Steve Jenkins
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt / HMH Books for Young Readers

Discover what zookeepers do with different animals in a zoo through this beautifully illustrated book presenting how various animals are cared for in zoos around the world.

What Do You Do If You Work at the Zoo


Wildlife Ranger Action Guide: Track, Spot & Provide Healthy Habitat for Creatures Close to Home

Mary Kay Carson
Storey Publishing

Learn about the importance of lizard lodges and bee boxes. Using everyday materials, this field guide suggests activities to turn backyards into personal learning and conservation zones.

Wildlife Ranger

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