Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Mad About Science: STEM Books to Use in Your Programs

Last week, I presented at the Children's & Young People's Division Conference on the science programming we have done (and plan to do!) at my library. I had a great, engaged crowd and the presentation was really fun! The first part of the presentation, I talked about our science programming at the library, how we started and tips for starting your own. Check out the handout from Mad About Science here!

At the end of the session, I shared a few of my favorite books and authors to use in science programming, and today I wanted to share my booklist with you. For a printable version, click here!

For each age group, I look for something to read aloud and/or something to explain complicated concepts in simple language. For preschoolers and early elementary, I'm usually looking for picture books that I can read (either in their entirety or in a shortened form), either on their own or as part of a larger storytime. Adding STEM books and concepts to your already-existing preschool storytime is a great way to encourage learning without having to add another entire program to your repertoire.

For elementary and tween audiences, I might read a picture book in its entirety or I might read passages from a longer book. Another way I use books in science programs for these age groups is to feature photos and facts, always making sure that they know where I got them ("citing my sources", per se). My goal in any program that I do is to feature and foster excitement about literature, so I always root programs in our collection.

A great tip someone from the session shared was to read magazine articles! It's such a simple and wonderful idea that hadn't occurred to me, so I'm really glad someone shared that tip with us.

When sharing books with kids, don't feel like you have to read the entire book, even for preschoolers. It's fine to share part of a book, to paperclip pages together, or reword certain passages if they're too wordy for your audience. When we're talking about books for preschool storytimes, books with rhyming words and/or big, clear pictures get bonus points! (Rhyming words help foster phonological awareness and big, clear pictures make books easier to be seen by large groups.)

Okay, that was a huge lead-up to my STEM programming booklist:

Preschool/Early Elementary

Series and authors:

Let’s Read and Find Out About Science - Great for illustrating concepts in simple language and they sometimes contain activity ideas, too. 

Pebble Plus series (published by Capstone) - The easy reader text makes it easy to share in storytime and the large, full-color photos are great for sharing with a group. 

Rookie Read-About Science (Scholastic) - Although they're a smaller trim size, this easy reader series is another good choice for explaining science concepts in simple language. 

Zigzag series by Becky Baines (National Geographic Children’s Books) - I love these books for their rhyming text. The rhyming text can be read by itself or you can add some of the facts found in smaller text on each spread.

Jim Arnosky
Bob Barner
Gail Gibbons
Darrin P. Lunde
Anne Rockwell
April Pulley Sayre
Anastasia Suen
Ellen Stoll Walsh

Parts by Tedd Arnold (human body)
Over in the Jungle
by Marianne Berkes (jungle, biomes, animals - great vocabulary!)
Count Them While You Can by Annie Bowman (endangered species)
Waiting for Wings by Lois Ehlert (insects, butterflies, life cycle)
Moon Bear by Brenda Z. Guiberson (bears, animals)
Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit by Il Sung Na (seasons, animals, camoflage)
Guess What is Growing Inside This Egg by Mia Posada (eggs, animals, life cycles)
Pumpkins by Ken Robbins (fall, growing, plant life cycle)
Hop! Plop! by Corey Rosen Schwartz & Tali Klein (weight, measurement)


Magic Tree House Research Guides (Random House) - This companion to the fiction series offers age-appropriate info on nonfiction topics. Choose passages from these books to introduce science concepts. 

A True Book series (Scholastic) - These titles are a little more involved than some of the series listed above, but still explain science concepts in simple language. Even if you don't read them aloud, they're great for familiarizing yourself with the concept you're presenting!

World Book Learning Playground (World Book) - These books have lots of curriculum and project ideas for various topics. Check here for activity ideas!

** Don't forget to feature these authors and titles as you're booktalking or doing readalouds for summer camps or afterschool groups. Many of these titles and authors have books that are easy to share with groups and add some variation to your usual stories! **

David A. Adler
Nic Bishop
Steve Jenkins
David M. Schwartz
Janice VanCleave

The Day-Glo Brothers by Chris Barton
Bubble Homes and Fish Farts by Fiona Bayrock
The Story of Snow by Mark Cassino
How Big Is It? by Ben Hillman
Life-Size Zoo by Teruyuki Komiya
Pop!: The Invention of Bubble Gum
by Meghan McCarthy
Why Are Animals Orange? by Melissa Stewart


Scientist in the Field series - This excellent series features different scientists and the work they do. These are ideal for budding scientists and for inspiring conversations about college/career readiness (yay Common Core!). 

Janice VanCleave
Sally M. Walker

Shark Life by Peter Benchley
100 Most Dangerous Things on the Planet by Anna Claybourne
A Black Hole is Not a Hole
by Carolyn DeCristofano
Titanic: Voices from the Disaster
by Deborah Hopkinson
Can We Save the Tiger? by Martin Jenkins
Zombie Makers by Rebecca Johnson
The Lives of the Scientists by Kathleen Krull
The Kid Who Named Pluto by Marc McCutcheon
Team Moon by Catherine Thimmesh

Those are some of my favorite STEM titles to share/booktalk with library kids. I know you have suggestions to add to the list, so let's hear 'em!

What are your favorite STEM books to use in programming? How do you use them?