Getting girls excited about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) as well as recognizing structural barriers to the participation of women and girls in STEM fields, have been part of public discourse for awhile now. I’ve reviewed several children’s picture books that explore important contributions women have made to STEM fields, including books written by Julia Finley Mosca for Innovation Press’ Amazing Scientists series about Patricia Bath and Temple Grandin. Other available books seek to make STEM accessible and exciting to young readers while prompting them to imagine themselves as creators. Picture books that take that strategy include Josh Funk’s How to Code a Sandcastle and Laura Roettiger’s Aliana Reaches for the Moon.
There have been several early chapter books that do the work of representing young girls who love science. For instance, Asia Citro’s Zoey and Sassafras series and Kelly Starling Lyons Sleepover Scientist, part of her Jada Jones series, both feature young black girls with a love for science. Citro’s series contains a dash of fantasy, okay, that’s an understatement – her series contains lots of fun and fabulous fantasy! Zoey and her mom share a secret that they keep from Zoey’s dad. They take care of magical animals using science to heal them! I really enjoy the mother-daughter relationship that centers the text as well as the quirky animal characters introduced in each book.
Jada Jones is an adorable young girl that children are sure to enjoy. Although the series itself doesn’t focus on science, Sleepover Science introduces readers to a variety of science experiments that Jada is excited to show off to her friends. Some of her friends are a bit less enthusiastic. The book explores scenarios many children will find familiar, like trying to make friends with different personalities happy while dealing with a pesky but lovable little brother! Jada is a great character, and this is a wonderful book that explores STEM themes creatively.
Andrea Beaty’s Rosie Revere and the Raucous Riveters is the first installment in her The Questioneers Book series, a collection of early chapter books based on characters previously introduced in her popular children’s picture books. Young readers familiar with Ada Twist the Scientist and Iggy Peck the Architect will enjoy their guest appearances in this fun book that focuses on Rosie’s attempt to help one of her aunt’s friends participate in a painting contest by inventing a machine to help her paint without using her hands.
All three of these books will make a great addition to personal and school libraries. They do a wonderful job introducing STEM themes through engaging characters who negotiate family, friends, and school working on building relationships and doing the things they love, from helping unicorns to reuniting with old friends, and meeting mysterious neighbors!