This month we highlight three books that entertain and educate; each incorporating the seeds of STEAM education for our littlest readers. Every year November 8 is set aside as National STEM/STEAM Day to inspire children of all ages to identify their passions in the worlds of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. These fields represent the fastest job growth in the US, and with the existing gender gap in STEAM-related careers, it’s even more of an opportunity to nurture interest in our young girls.
For Infants and Toddlers
by Brendan Wenzel (Chronicle $17.99) Ages 2-6
“Hello, hello,” says the black-and-white panda to the black-and-white zebra. How are they different? How are they alike? The pages that follow present a dizzying parade of animals grouped in unexpected ways, from pattern (Hello Stripes, Hello Spots) to anatomy (Hello Tongue, Ears, and Nose) and sound (Hello Roars, Peeps, Chirps and Chants).
Featuring joyous, rhythmic text and exuberant art, by award-winning author Brendan Wenzel (They All Saw a Cat), this deceptively simple picture book celebrates the colorful diversity of Earth’s animals while guiding children as young as two, to make associations between like-objects. Budding zoologists can use the silhouette index to identify the dozens of species represented, while older kids will begin to appreciate the fragility of the natural world and the plight of endangered species.
Fun Fact: The book’s publication benefits the Wildlife Conservation Society
For Preschool and Beyond
by Danica McKellar, illustrated by Jennifer Bricking (Crown $17.99) Ages 4-6
This latest children’s book by the mathematician and “Wonder Years” actress is as enchanting as her previous work, filled with flowers and fairies (and an adorable caterpillar who wishes he could fly) whose midnight magic with the number ten makes loving math easy for youngsters.
Using rhyming, singsong text, McKellar manages to sneak-in mathematical concepts; while children are delighting in the story and whimsical color-saturated illustrations, they are subtly learning the number combinations that add up to ten. The book concludes with helpful tips for reinforcing math in everyday places like the grocery store, along with fun and easy activities for home play.
by Gail Gibbons (Holiday House $7.99) Ages 3-6
For children inspired by Halloween pumpkin adventures (assuming we adults aren’t too weary from the overwhelming pumpkin-ness of October), here’s a book that provides a fun read, a STEAM-related introduction to agricultural science, and an activity book for families and classrooms. Written almost 20 years ago, it’s now published in a budget-friendly paperback edition, too.
Gibbons is an award-winning kids’ science author, and her book is packed with cheerful illustrations, engaging pumpkin trivia, and real-world facts about the pumpkin’s role in Thanksgiving and Halloween. Clear diagrams help explain the biology of seeds, the diversity of pumpkin varieties, their growth cycle in the garden, and instructions for using them in recipes and crafts.
The book is an engaging way to connect with the season—and provide context to the ubiquitous tradition that makes your autumn coffee and muffins taste like pie.