20 Best Read-Alouds for Elementary STEM


As educators, we know how important STEM is for our students at any age. You probably have STEM boxes, like I do, on the shelves of your classroom and the students enjoy tinkering with them. But let me ask you something… What else are you doing to create an environment of creativity and exploration for your young learners?

I don’t doubt you spend time scouring the internet for STEM projects, but let me make a suggestion. Why not start with a book? Yes, a book!! Every child loves listening to a story, so why not find books that help introduce the topic of STEM before you dive into a project.

Don’t worry… I’m not going to make you scour the internet. I have done the searching for you. Below is a list of the 20 Best Read-Alouds for Elementary STEM. Together, you and your students can learn from others, fictional and real life dreamers from around the world, who made mistakes, faced adversity at times, but never gave up on their dream of creating something they knew the world needed. 

20 Best Read-Aloud for Elementary STEM

1. The World Is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid

by Jeanette Winte

This beautiful biography is a story of big dreams, dedication, rejection, and discrimination. Zaha Hadid, a native of Baghdad, wants to create cities and design buildings that no one has ever attempted. Her journey will not be easy but her mindset won’t allow anyone or anything to stand in the way of her dreams.  

2. Iqbal and His Ingenious Idea: How a Science Project Helps One Family and the Planet

by Elizabeth Suneby 

This fictional story centers around the very important of protecting our environment and how everyone has a part to play no matter where you come from. Your students will be rooting for Iqbal as he looks for a solution to provide cleaner air for his family and his country.  

3. Rosie Revere, Engineer

by Andrea Beaty

So many of our kiddos have amazing ideas and creativity but often they choose to hold them back and not show the world for fear of rejection and failure. This is all too true for Rosie Revere whose inventions would bewilder anyone lucky enough to see them, until a visit from a very special family member changes Rosie’s outlook on failure.

STEM Book 4. Manjhi Moves a Mountain

by Nancy Churnin and Danny Popovici 

This story of persistence would be a great introduction to STEM activities for young learners. Manjhi, for years, never gave up on the idea of 2 villages becoming one. He found the tools he needed and went to work, never giving up or listening to the people that called him crazy. Manjhi is an inspiration to anyone who has a mountain of a dream and the drive to make it happen.

5. Mae Among the Stars 

by Roda Ahmed 

Sometimes a dream can seem as far away as outer space. All you need is a spaceship and a heart full of encouragement. This beautiful story of Mae Jemison, the first Arican American woman in space, will warm hearts and light fires for boys and girls who aspire to walk among the stars one day. 

6. What To Do With a Box 

by Jane Yolen

There is no limit to what a child can do with an empty box. Let their imaginations run wild as you share this adventure story with your kiddos and then hand them a box. 

7. Have You Thanked an Inventor Today? 

by Patrice McLaurin

Step into the shoes of this young boy as he goes through his day and learns about a number of important inventions we may take for granted. This book is a clever reminder of so many Africian American inventors whose contributions to society have had a profound impact on our everyday life.

STEM Book 8. Amelia the Mouse: Inventor Extraordinaire

by J. W. Kohler 

Amelia the mouse is an enthusiastic character for children to look up to and learn from. Her passion for inventing shines through in this story of determination and perseverance even when things don’t turn out as expected. 

9. Gritty Ninja: A Children’s Book About Dealing with Frustration and Developing Perseverance

by Mary Nhin

When trying new things it is no surprise that children can often become frustrated and give up on an idea or activity which is how Gritty Ninja used to respond to frustration. In this book Gritty Ninja learns how to persevere and overcome those hard times in order to excel at new endeavors he attempts. 

10. What About Moose? 

by Corey Rosen Schwartz 

Group projects can be a great way to build teamwork but when bossy team members take over things can go terribly wrong. Kids will love listening to this book and most likely be able to relate to Moose’s friends as they work alongside a rather bossy leader. 

11. Geraldine and the Most Spectacular Science Project

by Sol Regwan and Denise Muzzio

Geraldine is a high spirited 2nd grader with hopes of one day going to outer space as an astronaut, however; her daydreaming and curiosity for how things work often gets her into trouble. Young readers will enjoy listening to this story and watching how Geraldine finds her way despite how everyone perceives her.

STEM Book 12. Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code

by Laurie Wallmark 

Every child should hear the story of computer scientist Grace Hopper who was a pioneer in computer programming and somewhat of a rule breaker. She didn’t let being told “We have always done it this way” keep her from thinking outside the box and eventually helping make computers accessible to everyone. 

13. How to Code a Sandcastle

by Josh Funk and Sara Palacios

Teaching children to code is just as important as teaching them the skills of problem solving. Coding teaches children how to think differently and think logically. With the help of Pearl and her robot friend Pascal, children will be intrigued by how to build a sandcastle using code. 

14. Charlotte the Scientist Is Squished

by Camille Andros and Brianne Farley 

Charlotte the Scientist has a “tight” problem. Thankfully she knows that when a scientist has a problem they use the scientific method. This story is a great way to introduce the scientific method to young learners and spark interest in science.

15. The Most Magnificent Thing

by Ashley Spires 

Creating something new can be overwhelming especially when you make mistake after mistake and just feel like quitting. Thank goodness this little girl’s dog knows the remedy for her frustration; take a walk. When you take a break and gather your thoughts you can come back refreshed and ready to create the most magnificent thing. 

STEM Book 16. After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again)

by Dan Santat 

Humpty is an avid bird watcher but after a painful fall, Humpty is too scared to get back up and do what he onced loved for fear of falling again. Young readers will empathize with Humpty and rejoice when he decides to no longer give up on his enjoyment.

17. What Is Science?

by Rebecca Kai Dotlich 

This child friendly picture book presents the subject of science in a simple and interesting way that provokes curiosity and intrigue in young learners. The colorful illustrations and poetic rhyme will capture the hearts and minds of students and teachers alike.

18. Focused Ninja: A Children’s Book About Increasing Focus and Concentration at Home and School 

by Mary Nhin 

This book teaches stamina when it comes to persevering through a project. Your students are sure to benefit from this book as they follow Focused Ninja on his journey to discovering better concentration strategies for success. 

19. Your Fantastic Elastic Brain: Stretch It, Shape It

by JoAnn Deak Ph.D. 

We teach our students to stretch their bodies in gym class so why not teach them to stretch their brains in the classroom? Your students will be amazed at the ideas this book presents through engaging pictures and simple concepts all put together to teach that mistakes are actually a great way for your brain to learn. Who knew? 

STEM Book 20. If I Built a Car

by Chris Van Dusen 

Allow your students to indulge their wild imaginations after you share this book about a young boy who set out to build his ultimate dream car. This book would be great for a creative writing time and STEM project that allow for the ultimate creativity. 


So, are you convinced that these 20 Best Read-Alouds for Elementary STEM are a fabulous way to reach young learners while teaching STEM?! I knew you’d agree with me. ?

This list is certainly filled with a variety of characters from all walks of life who all share one thing: a dream. Their determination for building, creating, designing, and staying focused allowed them to achieve what may have seemed impossible to others and even themselves at times. They never gave up and now their lessons can be taught to others.

As you embark on this literary STEM journey please remember that it is your job to believe in each one of them. It is your job to instill in your learners that they must never stop dreaming. And how will you take on this grand task…why reading these STEM books to them, of course!

~ Written by Suzanne Kelley

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Welcome! I’m Emily, Founder of Education to the Core. We are all about helping K-2 teachers by providing unlimited access to affordable printables for every subject area.