Three Awesome STEM Picture Books to Inspire Young Minds

I have grown to adore picture books over the last three years.  Not only do they give us beautiful, compact stories, they also put thoughtful works of art in the hands of children.  Except for science fiction works, it’s difficult to find books that fit the increasing emphasis of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) in school curricula that compel readers to think of science fields as exciting and entertaining.  Scientific nonfiction books tend to be dry and wordy.  Yet the foundation of science is questioning, experimentation, and discovery, all thrilling pursuits for even the most seasoned adventurer.  Two years ago I purchased a book about a little girl who wanted to be an engineer.  Luckily for me, the book was a standout hit with the kids and it became part of a series.  In honor of World Read Aloud Day, I present to you the works of Andrea Beaty and David Roberts:  Rosie Revere, Engineer; Iggy Peck, Architect; and Ada Twist, Scientist!

 

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Rosie Revere, Engineer

Little Rosie was a collector of “stuff.”  While others saw trash, Rosie saw potential.  She could take the bits and pieces she found in the trash and create something magnificent.

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The story is told in rhymed couplets that reflect the whimsy of Rosie’s imagination.  The title character is a reference to the famous Rosie the Riveter poster from the WWII era.  In fact, Rosie is named after her great aunt Rose who bears a striking resemblance to the original Rosie.

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Rosie pursues her dream of becoming a great engineer, but her experiments often do go exactly as planned.  Fortunately, her family is there to remind her that behind every success are a hundred failures.  FullSizeRender (73).jpg

Rosie finds the courage to overcome her disappointment and continues her quest to make a flying machine for her great aunt Rose.

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Iggy Peck, Architect

Iggy Peck loved to build things.  From the time he was two until he reached grade 2, he spent his time building copies of the great architectural wonders of the world.  The Leaning Tower of Pisa he made out of dirty diapers (including the one he should been wearing!).  He staked pancakes and coconut pies to recreate the St. Louis Arch. Yet the day he met Ms. Lila Greer from Blue River Creek Elementary, his life changed.  And not for the better!

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Ms. Greer hated architecture and she refused to let the kids learn about it.  We learn of her phobia and feel compassion for her, but it is not until the class finds itself in an architectural pickle that Ms. Greer sees the error of her ways and lets Iggy Peck save the day!

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Young readers will delight in Iggy’s perseverance even in the face of doubt in the eyes of this teacher.

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Ada Twist, Scientist

Little Ada Marie wouldn’t say a word until she was three, but she made her presence known throughout the house.  She explored and silently wondered, learning everything she could about her world.  When she finally started talking, she asked why, what, how, where, and when?  Her parents weren’t sure what to make of little Ada Twist.

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The older she got the more she wondered.  She finally encountered a mystery she simply could not crack:  What made that awful smell that filled the air?  She questioned and queried; she observed and collected; but she could not find the source of the stench.

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Her parents were flumoxed.  What could they do with a child with so many questions?  Encourage her, of course!

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As with the other two volumes in this series, the story is told in rhymed couplets.  Ada uses an accurate but age-appropriate version of the scientific method in her research.  Young readers are exposed to scientific vocabulary such as hypothesis and experiment.  The end may leave some readers frustrated since the cause of the smell is still left in doubt, but our characters are continue on with their scientific pursuits.

Final Thoughts

I absolutely love this series of books!  They make for a pleasant read aloud as well as a way to bring literacy instruction and science together.  The characters are full of energy and spunk.  And they make mistakes just like real kids.  I think that’s the key to the appeal.  Even though some of the activities like building a helicopter or a huge model of the Leaning Tower of Pisa out of dirty diapers are clearly fiction, readers can still relate to these little explorers.

Perhaps my favorite aspect of the books is their diversity.  Page after page is filled with children representing multiple cultures.

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Sometimes diversity is pushed so hard that writers resort to stereotypes.  Andrea Beaty and David Roberts hit the perfect diverse note here.  The kids are not Cacausion, African-American, Asian, etc.  They just ARE.  They EXIST without labels.  And to be honest, they don’t need one.  They are kids doing things that kids do. Highest recommendation!

Teacher Notes

Rosie Revere, Engineer
Lexile 860
Accelerated Reader Lvl 4.2, 0.5 points
Reading Counts Lvl 4.6, 1.0 points

Iggy Peck, Architect
Lexile 850
Accelerated Reader Lvl 4.1, 0.5 points
Reading Counts Lvl 4.5, 1.0 points

Ada Twist, Scientist
Lexile 550
Acclerated Reader Lvl 3.4, 0.5 points
Reading Counts Lvl 3.3, 1.0 points

 

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