30 great K-12 STEM books


This list is an adaptation of the National Science Teachers Association’s Best STEM Books 2017


Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine. Laurie Wallmark. April Chu

Ada is a unique young woman who models creative thinking, applies mathematics and science to design, and publishes a pioneering computer program.






Ada’s Ideas. Fiona Robinson

The illustrations as well as the text invite the reader to engage with Ada (Lovelace) as she applies her math and science learning to new challenges.





Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science. Diane Stanley. Jessie Hartland.

Ada Lovelace was able to nurture her imagination and model innovative thinking to create the first computer program ever published.




Ben Franklin’s Big Splash. Barb Rosenstock. S.D. Schindler

Even as a young boy, Ben Franklin uses design thinking to explore multiple solutions to invent swim fins.





Breakthrough. Jack Andraka

Young scientist Jack Andraka perseveres to design an early-detection test for several cancers.                                            





Emmet’s Storm. Ann Rubino

In the context of his era, Emmet explores solutions to a community problem through persistence.





Fearless Flyer. Heather Lang. Raúl Colón

Ruth Law, 1916 biplane pilot, improves and redesigns flight equipment, daring to fly cross-country and setting a new long-distance record.






Green City. Allan Drummond

A city devastated by a tornado is rebuilt for an environmentally sustainable future by its citizens.




Hello Ruby. Linda Liukas

Ruby and her fanciful friends explore the logical skills that underpin programming in a book that will invite the youngest learners to explore.





Inventions that Could Have Changed the World … But Didn’t. Joe Rhatigan. Anthony Owsley

A flying car, a bed that ejects sleepers when it is time to awaken, a toilet seat for cats—these are just a few of the imagined, creative, and sometimes patented inventions that did not change the world.




The Inventor's Secret. Suzanne Slade. Jennifer Black Reinhardt

Edison and Ford were widely curious—and all of the work they did (including the many mistakes along the way) highlights how these inventors persevered, designed, and redesigned.




The Marvelous Thing That Came from a Spring. Gilbert Ford

While dreamer Richard James works as a navy engineer exploring ways to keep ships from vibrating, he designs one of the most popular toys in American history, the Slinky.





The Most Magnificent Thing. Ashley Spires

A young girl engages in the engineering and design process as she struggles to create the most magnificent thing—which is not revealed until the end of the story.





Red Madness. Gail Jarrow

Pellagra, a mysterious disease, affected millions until a public health crusader kept an open mind while analyzing the results of medical research.





Rosie Revere, Engineer. Andrea Beaty

Rosie dreams of becoming an engineer. Unfortunately, she does not always feel fully accepted for who she is. That is, until her Great-Great Aunt Rose comes to visit. Rose tells stories of building airplanes during World War II and, along with Rosie’s teacher at school, helps Rosie find her inspiration, even when things do not go as planned.




Sabotage. Neal Bascomb

Faced with Germany’s invasion of Norway, nine Norwegian commandos explore multiple solutions to life-threatening problems, as they change the course of World War II.





The Secret Subway. Shana Corey

Alfred Ely Beach uses divergent ideas from the community to solve a transportation problem with vividly relevant illustrations.





Six Dots. Jen Bryant. Boris Kulikov

At age 15, blind Louis Braille exemplifies persistence and creativity as he constructs a system for reading and writing through code.





Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea. Robert Burleigh. Raúl Colón

In 1948 at Columbia University, Marie Tharpe carefully plotted Atlantic Ocean depth data, ultimately discovering a remarkable formation—the mountainous Mid-Atlantic Ridge.





Steve Jobs: Insanely Great. Jessie Hartland

The eclectic curiosity, drive for perfection, and imperfect personality of Jobs are all illustrated in this graphic novel about a quirky genius.





Super Gear. Jennifer Swanson

Stronger, lighter, safer, faster: Innovative improvements through nanotechnology demonstrate progressively better solutions, changing the world of sports.






SWAP! Steve Light

A little pirate uses ingenious thinking to progressively change an old ship into a new ship of which his friend can be proud.





Ticktock Banneker’s Clock. Shana Keller. David C. Gardner

A young Benjamin Banneker perseveres to “reverse-engineer” a pocket watch to improve and scale up his design of a strike clock.





Trailblazers.  Rachel Swaby

Thirty-three vignettes that exemplify progressive change as well as perseverance, innovative thinking, change, and discovery.





Wangari Maathai. Franck Prévot. Aurélia Fronty

Strong and fearless, Wangari Maathai engineers both peace and environmental responsibility through problem solving and persistence.





Welcome to Mars. Buzz Aldrin with Marianne J. Dyson

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin shares ideas about failures and successes in an authentic situation—while being encouraged to think critically about planning for a trip to Mars.






What Does It Mean To Be An Entrepreneur? Rana DiOrio and Emma D. Dryden. Ken Min

Innovation and open-minded thinking are the focus of this story, in which a young entrepreneur demonstrates curiosity, takes risks, overcomes challenges, and exemplifies perseverance.




Whoosh! Chris Barton. Don Tate

From childhood to adult, Tuskegee to NASA, Lonnie Johnson used authentic problems to design and construct the Super Soaker.





Women of Steel and Stone. Anna M. Lewis

This diverse collection of biographies of female architects allows readers insight into the women’s challenges and reflective thinking.





Women Who Launched the Computer Age. Laurie Calkhoven. Alyssa Petersen

The story of the women “computers” from World War II—and the process by which they developed the first programming for the ENIAC computers—is told through the lens of both history and technology.

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