STEAM Reads for Curious Minds
Two of my favorite things are science and story! I love hiking through the woods and noticing the three shapes of leaves on a sassafras tree. Pausing to watch monarch butterflies float in a bright blue sky fills me with awe. Picking out a colorful rock on the beach ignites me with curiosity.
I also love reading books that make me inquisitive about the world around me. When a book captures me so completely that I want to research more about a topic, I know I’ve found a good story. Are there really tunnels on Mars that could be inhabited? Is there truly a whale that sings at a different frequency than all the others in the sea? What was his job before he started inventing?
Below are a few excellent fiction books that open the world of science and story for school age kids.
Zoey and Sassafras: Dragons and Marshmallows by Asia Citro, illustrated by Marion Lindsay
Zoey has always loved science. She even has a notebook where she records her observations, hypotheses, and experiments. One day, she discovers that her mom has been secretly helping magical creatures that live in the forest behind her house. Now Zoey gets to put her scientific knowledge to use as she tries to help a baby dragon. This is a perfect series for readers just starting to read chapter books. Zoey and Sassafras books have short chapters and engaging pictures throughout the book.
Einstein: The Fantastic Journey of a Mouse Through Time and Space by Torben Kuhlmann
Kuhlmann has created delightful books imagining what might have happened if mice helped great scientists and explorers throughout the years. When a mouse misses a much-anticipated cheese festival in Switzerland, he decides to try and turn back time so he can attend. As he researches and experiments, his path crosses with Albert Einstein. Together they explore the concepts of space and time. This book, in addition to all of Kuhlmann’s books, has beautiful, intricate illustrations and imaginative introductions to various scientists from the past. Kuhlmann’s books are great to read aloud to beginning readers.
The Lion of Mars by Jennifer Holm
When the Perseverance Rover landed on Mars, we began to learn more about this planet. In The Lion of Mars, Jennifer L. Holm imagines what life would be like for a boy who has always lived on this isolated planet. Bell, along with a dozen other Americans, survives in one of the first settlements on Mars. He loves his home, his cat, and his pod of people, but he sometimes wonders about the other countries who also have colonies on the planet. Why are the adults in his community so intent on isolating themselves from the other humans on Mars? When the adults in the settlement get sick with a virus, Bell and his friends must find a way to save their family by overcoming their fear and stereotypes of others. The Lion of Mars would be an excellent chapter book for 3rd through 7th grade students.
Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelley
Iris and her grandmother are both Deaf. Although they communicate with each other using American Sign Language, connecting with others who aren’t deaf is difficult. When Iris learns about Blue 55, a whale that sings at a different frequency than all the other whales in the ocean, she wants to help. After convincing her grandmother to go on a cruise in Alaska, Iris endeavors to find and connect with Blue 55, using technology, in hopes that she can communicate with this lone whale. Kids in grades 3rd through 7th would appreciate this book.
The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera
The world is about to end. Haley’s Comet has veered off course, and only a few scientists and their families will be able to escape. Petra Pena and her family are among the lucky ones to have a place on a ship taking them 380 years away to a new planet. To survive, they will be put to sleep in a hibernation-like state until they arrive, where they will then start a new life. When Petra is woken up, however, a new Collective has taken over and all memories of Earth have been erased from humans. No one remembers anything, except Petra. She must figure out how to survive as well as help those around her remember who they really are. This page-turner is a perfect book for 5th through 8th grade.
Operation Do-Over by Gordon Korman
Mason and Ty have been best friends forever. They love the same things. They finish each other’s sentences. They both endlessly debate the possibilities of time travel. When Ava joins their class, Ty and Mason both like her, but they can’t seem to find a way to be friends with Ava in the picture. A terrible fight ends their friendship, and Ty and Mason go separate ways. Jump forward five years: Mason is kicked out of school after another fight with Ty. His parents are divorced, and his dog is dead. He would do anything to go back in time and re-do his 7th grade year when things started going wrong. This fun science-fiction novel would be great for 4th through 7th grades.
Need a few more suggestions?
Line Tender by Kate Allen
Horizon by Scott Westerfeld
Charlie Thorne by Stuart Gibbs
The Evolution of Calpunia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
Laura DeJonge taught middle school science for years before moving to the middle school library. Currently, she is a youth librarian who loves finding the perfect book for every person she comes in contact with. She loves being outside, reading books with her kids, and exploring new places, either on pages or out in the real world.