> The Perfect Unexpected STEM gift | STEMedia | STEM • Media

The Perfect Unexpected STEM gift

The holidays are on their way now, and you may be thinking about what to get the children in your life.  If you’re looking for smaller or less expensive gifts to go with “the big gift,” then may I suggest books?  I’d like to suggest books that center on the theme of STEM. There are now many fun options in children’s books that have STEM characters and concepts, and these books will engage and ignite your child not only in STEM, but also arts and reading, this holiday season.  Below is a list of my favorite STEM children’s book, sorted by category.

Picture books

For the younger picture book crowd (ages 0-4):

Baby Loves Aerospace Engineering!

Written by Ruth Spiro

Illustrated by Irene Chan


“Accurate enough to satisfy [most] experts, yet simple enough for baby,” this book is a fun way to introduce flight and planes to babies, toddlers, and preschoolers.  This book takes the interest many little kids have in airplanes and introduces them to the basic science behind flight. With colorful illustrations and age-appropriate language, this book will encourage your child’s sense of wonder.




Goodnight Lab

A Scientific Parody by Chris Ferrie

A parody book based on the beloved children’s book, Goodnight Moon, it delivers the same rhyming magic when saying goodnight to the laboratory.  “It’s been a long day at the lab for this scientist. Now it’s time to say good night! Goodnight laser. Goodnight notebook. Goodnight picture of Einstein with a stern look.”  It’s sure to become a bedtime favorite for the little scientist in your life.

For the older picture book crowd (ages 4-8):


Rosie Revere, Engineer

Written by Andrea Beaty

Illustrated by David Roberts

Another great rhyming book about a girl, Rosie, who dreams of becoming an engineer.  Beautiful illustrations, fantastic characters, and humorous creative inventions all combine to a wonderful book with a powerful message for any future engineer: “you can only truly fail, if you quit.”







What Do You Do with an Idea?

Written by Kobi Yamada

Illustrated by Mae Besom

Engineering inventions, tech innovations, and scientific discoveries usually all start at the same place: an idea. But What Do You Do With an Idea?  This book helps answer that question and is for anyone who’s ever had an idea that seemed a little too big, too odd, too difficult. Lovely sepia colored illustrations provide a perfect backdrop for the little golden idea as it grows.




Middle Grade Books

For middle grade readers (ages 9-13):

The Friendship Code #1 (Girls Who Code)

Written By Stacia Deutsch

Forward By Reshma Saujani, Girls Who Code Founder and CEO

This book is the first novel in a series inspired by the non-profit organization Girls Who Code. Great for both boys and girls, the book teaches coding through fun riddles and scavenger hunts. Your child will come away from this book introduced to coding syntax and basic coding principles that are fundamental to all coding languages.






EngiNerds Hardcover

Written by Jarrett Lerner

Robots? Check.  Smart main character? Check.  Science? Explosions?  Check. Check. Farts? Check. This book is the perfect blend of brains and funny that will engage your engineer to be.  The book is also fast-paced and entertaining that your reluctant reader will also be engaged.







Hidden Figures: The Untold True Story of Four African-American Women Who Helped Launch Our Nation into Space– The Young Readers’ Edition

Written by Margot Lee Shetterly

Nothing is more inspiring to young scientists, mathematicians, and engineers than reading about the real life, powerful story of four African-American female mathematicians, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, at NASA who helped achieve some of the greatest moments in the NASA space program. This edition of Margot Lee Shetterly’s acclaimed book is perfect for young readers.







Young Adult Books

For young adult readers (ages 14 and up):

Let’s Face It

Written by Jodi Moore

This book integrates the science of acne, the spirit of activism, and a love story in a fun way. It does a nice job in combining teen angst and romance with a clever story wrapped around economic concepts, such as entrepreneurship, production decisions, marketing, and jobs. Young adult readers looking for substantive material with a light-hearted touch will enjoy this book.





October Sky (The Coalwood Series #1 and also known as Rocket Boys)

Written by Homer Hickam

Another real-life story, this memoir is about Sonny and his friends building amateur rocketry in a small coal mining town during the 1950s.  Their amateur rocket club go through trial and error to refine their rockets, showing young rocket scientists everywhere that dreams can come true.







Ship Breaker

Written by Paolo Bacigalupi

This book is a thrilling futuristic science fiction story with sailing ships, sea-going battles, global warming and melting polar ice caps, cannibalizing of copper and aluminum, treacherous people, and a little bit of hope for the future.  A riveting tale of adventure, this book is sure to please the young adult reader in your life.






I have only mentioned a handful of STEM children’s books available; there are plenty more out there for you to choose from!  Search the genres, picture book, middle grade, or young adult, in the  School Library Journal or Goodreads for the perfect gift for your child. Have a happy holiday season!


This piece comes to us from one of our amazing community members and content volunteers, Suzie Olsen. Her bio is below, be sure to check out her awesome website and if you would like to work with us you can email us here!

Suzie Olsen is a Staff Systems Engineer in Phoenix, AZ. When she is not busy building and maintaining the search and rescue system for the US Coast Guard, she is performing science experiments and engineering design projects with K-12 students. To encourage all students in science, technology, engineering and math,she has written the book “Annie Aardvark, Mathematician.” You can learn more about Suzie here!