STEM reads: Unleash your child's inner scientist with these 4 titles
Parents: Do you have a child who’s always asking “How?” or “Why?” If you do, you have a budding scientist on your hands! This is great news, because according to the U.S. Department of Education, jobs in science, technology, engineering and math (or STEM) are projected to increase by 14 percent by 2020. So, how can you encourage your miniature scientist’s interest in STEM subjects? By visiting your local Anythink, of course!
During the past decade, there has been an amazing increase in the quality and variety of children’s nonfiction books. Some of the best ones really bring their subjects to life - even if they’ve been extinct for millions of years. This is especially the case with Scaly Spotted Feathered Frilled: How Do We Know What Dinosaurs Really Looked Like? by Catherine Thimmesh. Far from being a simple picture book for the preschool-aged enthusiast, this book shows elementary students how scientists and artists try to figure out how dinosaurs walked, ate and looked. It goes into detail about how paleontology works and how the field has developed since the early 20th century, and will encourage critical thinking skills in readers.
Another book that encourages kids to question old practices and try new things is Energy Island by Allan Drummond. Energy Island tells the story of how a tiny island off the coast of Denmark became completely self-sustaining in terms of their energy needs. The main text reads almost like a story in a picture book, but there are lots of extremely interesting sidebars that go into detail about renewable energy versus fossil fuels, and how technology like wind turbines and solar panels capture energy and turn it into electricity. Small children as young as 5 years old will appreciate the main story, and the sidebars will spark the curiosity of older elementary students.
If your elementary-aged child is interested in outer space, look no further than Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano’s wonderful book A Black Hole is Not a Hole. The book takes kids on a tour in outer space, exploring galaxies and the forces that drive them. It does an amazing (and even humorous) job of explaining difficult scientific concepts like dark matter. The book assumes that kids will have a basic knowledge of stars, planets, our solar system and so on, so it will find its best audience with older elementary students.
For children who are more musically inclined, or for anyone just looking for some lively, humorous music to make car trips more interesting, the album Here Comes Science! by They Might Be Giants is a great choice. If you’re interested in songs that are tie-ins to the books listed above, try “I Am a Paleontologist” or “Why Does the Sun Shine?” Both parents and kids will get a kick out of this album, since it seamlessly combines fun and education and is produced by a band that many young parents will remember from their college days.
Have you found an especially great book, movie or album on the STEM subjects for kids? Write about it in the comments! And, make sure to check back with your local Anythink branch for mySummer events for kids - most of them will relate to STEM subjects, as well.