Books to engage children with STEM

Einstein, The Girl Who Hated Maths

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics are all too often perceived as being boring, rigid subjects with no room for creativity. The phrase “My brain just doesn’t work that way!” is one you are likely to hear from adults and children alike.

Well, it turns out there is much more to STEM than long division and lab coats. In fact, these subjects exist all around us in our everyday lives. Whether it’s coding in Minecraft, chemistry in baking or physics in football, one thing is clear - anybody can be a scientist. The following booklist shares titles which explore the wonderfully imaginative world of STEM in different and exciting ways, providing ideas and inspiration for the next generation of innovators.

  • Polly Bee Makes Honey

    Author: Deborah Chancellor Illustrator: Julia Groves
    Publisher: Scallywag Press
    Interest age: 4-5

    This colourful picture book fuses factual information and fictional narrative to present a day in the life of Polly, a worker bee. This is one of a series of books that aims to teach children where their food comes from. 

  • Beneath

    Author: Cori Doerrfeld
    Publisher: Scallywag Press
    Interest age: 4-5

    Finn is in a horrible mood and doesn’t want to talk about it – he’d rather hide under the bedcovers. But, Grandpa persuades Finn to come for a walk outside – Finn can even stay under the blanket and use it like a comforting, protective cloak.

  • Look Up!

    Author: Nathan Bryon Illustrator: Dapo Adeola
    Publisher: Puffin
    Interest age: 4-7
    Reading age: 6+

    Nathan Bryon and Dapo Adeola’s charming picture book gifts us with a gorgeous character in Rocket, a girl whose passion for all things space is as inspiring to the reader as her heroine Mae Jemison is to her. 

  • Do Not Lick This Book

    Author: Idan Ben-Barak Illustrator: Julian Frost microscopic photography by Linnea Rundgren
    Publisher: Allen & Unwin
    Interest age: 4-8
    Reading age: 5+

    Meet Min the microbe! She's living in the pages of Do Not Lick This Book and now you can take her on an adventure, meeting other microbes and discovering fascinating microscopic photography along the way. A witty introduction to germs that kids and adults alike will love.

  • Epic Animal Journeys: Navigations and Migrations by Air, Land and Sea

    Author: Ed J Brown
    Publisher: Cicada Books
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 6+

    Migrating animals are found in all areas of the animal kingdom: birds, fish, reptiles, crustaceans, amphibians, mammals and insects. But why do they do it, and how does it work? There’s so much to learn, from the varying migration routes of different birds (gannets can cross oceans easily as they can take breaks to swim, float and fish for food, and storks r…

  • Rocketmole

    Author: Matt Carr
    Publisher: Scholastic
    Interest age: 3-6
    Reading age: 5+

    When a brave mole sets off alone for the moon, he changes things on Earth, too. Parents and children will enjoy the inspirational message: you can inspire others if you try hard enough to make your dreams come true, and adventures are always better with friends. 

  • Once Upon a Raindrop

    Author: James Carter Illustrator: Nomoco
    Publisher: Little Tiger Press
    Interest age: 6-8
    Reading age: 7+

    Why is the moon so dry when the Earth has oceans and rivers and snow and ice? This rhyming and poetical picture book brilliantly introduces the concept of the water cycle and the value of water in our lives.

  • A Dinosaur Ate My Sister

    Author: Pooja Puri Illustrator: Allen Fatimaharan
    Publisher: Macmillan
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 8+

    Genius inventor Esha Verma is on the brink of winning the Brain Trophy, when she accidentally sends her sister back to the age of the dinosaurs. Funny and fast-paced STEM adventure.

  • Design a Skyscraper

    Author: Hilary Koll and Steve Mills
    Publisher: QED
    Interest age: 9+
    Reading age: 8+

    Alice the architect leads you through the process of building a skyscraper.

  • Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths

    Author: Maisie Chan Illustrator: Anh Cao
    Publisher: Piccadilly Press
    Interest age: 9-12
    Reading age: 8+

    Danny Chung doesn’t do maths he does do art. When his grandmother arrives from China, hilarious adventures including bingo and lychees show him that maths and art are closely connected.

  • Einstein, The Girl Who Hated Maths

    Author: John Agard Illustrator: Satoshi Kitamura
    Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 7+

    A perfect book for schools in particular, this book is filled with thought-provoking poems that will re-enchant the magic of maths for children.

  • How To Spaghettify Your Dog… and other science secrets of the universe

    Author: Hiba Noor Khan Illustrator: Harry Woodgate
    Publisher: Bloomsbury
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 8+

    It could be said that physics is the science of absolutely everything: clouds to cars, time to rainbows and rain to sandwiches. But, as a subject, it can seem a bit complicated – or, can it?

  • Kay’s Incredible Inventions

    Author: Adam Kay Illustrator: Henry Paker
    Publisher: Penguin Books
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 8+

    A funny, informative collection of inventions, both useful and failed, across the centuries from a best-selling author and illustrator pair. 

  • Meet the Weather

    Author: Caryl Hart Illustrator: Bethan Woollvin
    Publisher: Bloomsbury
    Interest age: 4-5

    An energetic, fun introduction to different types of weather, using rhyme and vibrant, bright illustrations.

    Mae merch fach a'i chi yn hedfan trwy'r awyr mewn balŵn aer poeth hudol, gan ddysgu am dywydd ein planed: cymylau, gwynt, corwyntoedd, mellt a tharanau, niwl ac eira, heulwen a glaw, ac – yn olaf – enfys hyfryd.

  • Rosa's Big Sunflower Experiment

    Author: Jessica Spanyol
    Publisher: Child's Play
    Interest age: 2-5

    Rosa and her friends are growing sunflowers. The industrious team of children fill pots with soil, tenderly plant seeds and then carefully label and position their plants. This is one of a series of books following Rosa and her friends as they undertake a range of simple but inspiring projects guaranteed to stimulate children’s interest in STEM subjects.

  • Sunday Fun Day: A Nature Activity for Every Weekend of the Year

    Author: Katherine Halligan Illustrator: Jesus Verona
    Publisher: Nosy Crow
    Interest age: 6-11
    Reading age: 8+

    Featuring 52 activities (one for every Sunday in the year), Sunday Fun Day is a compendium of craft, cooking, gardening and outdoor activities organised into Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Loads of useful ideas and lovely for families who love crafts. 

  • Unlocking the Universe

    Author: Stephen & Lucy Hawking Illustrator: Jan Bielecki
    Publisher: Puffin
    Interest age: 12-14
    Reading age: 11+

    As his daughter Lucy says in the introduction to Unlocking the Universe, Professor Stephen Hawking believed in talking about science in ways that people could easily understand, and that everyone has the right to know what scientists do and what it means. At 400 pages, this is a comprehensive book, but within those pages it covers a big range of science topi…

  • Engineers Making a Difference

    Author: Dr Shini Somara Illustrator: Manuel Šumberac and Adam Allsuch Boardman
    Publisher: What on Earth Books
    Interest age: 12-14
    Reading age: 12+

    A fascinating and accessible introduction to the variety of engineers across the globe making a difference in their jobs. Sure to inspire all secondary school pupils.

  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Hide & Seek

    Author: Eric Carle
    Publisher: Puffin
    Interest age: 1-4

    An interactive board book with cut-out finger trails and sturdy flaps that encourage youngsters to explore the forest in the company of the very hungry caterpillar.

  • Planet Awesome!

    Author: Stacy McAnulty Illustrator: David Litchfield
    Publisher: Faber & Faber
    Interest age: 4-8
    Reading age: 7+

    A humorous, fabulously entertaining and lavishly illustrated introduction to astronomy, geology, natural history and ecology from the point of view of planet Earth herself.

  • In the Key of Code

    Author: Aimee Lucido
    Publisher: Walker Books
    Interest age: 9-12
    Reading age: 9+

    Emmy is in a new city and new school and has just discovered computer coding. But why are people in class keeping secrets? This verse novel brilliantly combines poetry, music and coding with a coming-of-age story and a celebration of girls in STEM. 

  • Big Bad Wolf Investigates: Fairy Tales

    Author: Catherine Cawthorne Illustrator: Sara Ogilvie
    Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's Books
    Interest age: 6-8
    Reading age: 6+

    Could the Big Bad Wolf really blow down a straw house? A funny look at familiar fairy tales through the lens of STEM.

  • Leonora Bolt: Secret Inventor

    Author: Lucy Brandt Illustrator: Gladys Jose
    Publisher: Puffin
    Interest age: 6-11
    Reading age: 7+

    Inventor Leonora Bolt has never left the remote island she lives on with her pet otter and an eccentric housekeeper! When a young castaway washes ashore, she begins to learn all about the mainland - which is in terrible danger. Can Leonora and her friends save it?

  • Wake Up, Trucks!

    Author: Jodie Parachini Illustrator: Teresa Bellōn
    Publisher: Little Tiger
    Interest age: 4-5
    Reading age: 2-3

    This lovely, bright book with a fun rhyming text will delight little ones who love vehicles, diggers and trucks. There’s lots of detail here about all the fun things trucks do – focused on a building site as a type of workplace that will interest little ones, with the clear, understandable outcome of building houses.