Employment in STEM fields does not reflect the diversity of American society; white males in these fields outnumber women and non-Asian minorities. A report by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission explains that despite a growing number of high-tech job opportunities, it is mostly white males who are benefitting from this job growth, especially at the executive and management levels.
One method for encouraging more diversity in STEM fields is to engage children in these disciplines at a young age. Picture books are a great way to achieve this, and there is no shortage of books for children that focus on STEM themes. Read on to find a list of 13 books that focus on STEM and have been honored with the Caldecott Medal, an annual award issued by the American Library Association for the best children’s picture books.
2018 – Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon, illustrated and written by Jason Chin, was a Caldecott Medal honor book in 2018. The book focuses on the geology of Grand Canyon National Park, highlighting the fossil record of plants and animals throughout the centuries.
2017 – Du Iz Tak?
Du Iz Tak?, illustrated and written by Carson Ellis, was a Caldecott Medal honor book in 2017. The book’s scientific focus is on botany, as a group of bugs learn about the sprouting plant in their midst.
2016 – Waiting
Waiting, illustrated and written by Kevin Henkes, was a Caldecott Medal honor book in 2016. The book highlights a cast of figurines sitting on a windowsill and waiting for their favorite weather to occur. This teaches kids about meteorology and the activities that people take part in during different weather patterns.
2015 – Sam & Dave Dig a Hole
Sam & Dave Dig a Hole, illustrated by Jon Klassen and written by Mac Barnett, was a Caldecott Medal honor book in 2015. The book highlights the scientific concepts of forming a hypothesis and working by experimentation as a pair of brothers dig a deep hole in search of treasure.
2014 – Locomotive
Locomotive, written and illustrated by Brian Floca, won the Caldecott Medal in 2014. The book includes mechanical descriptions of early locomotives as well as maps of the United States. It teaches young readers about mechanical engineering and geography via the description of a family’s train journey halfway across the United States in 1869.
2013 – Green
Green, illustrated and written by Laura Vaccaro Seeger, was a Caldecott Medal honor book in 2013. The book illustrates the scientific concept of observation, highlighting variations in the color green that occur in nature.
2012 – Me…Jane
Me…Jane, written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell, was a Caldecott Medal honor book in 2012. The book tells the story of young Jane Goodall, who would go on to become a world-renowned primatologist, and her toy chimpanzee. The young Goodall grows into her love of real-life apes through her childhood interactions with nature and animals.
2011 – A Sick Day for Amos McGee
A Sick Day for Amos McGee, illustrated by Erin E. Stead and written by Philip C. Stead, won the Caldecott Medal in 2011. This book introduces children to animal science by telling the story of a zookeeper who cares for animals at the local zoo and what happens when he has to take a sick day from work.
2010 – Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors
Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski and written by Joyce Sidman, was a Caldecott Medal honor book in 2010. The book introduces young readers to the concept of seasons. The book discusses the typical weather, animals, sounds, colors, and more that are present in each season.
2009 – How I Learned Geography
How I Learned Geography, written and illustrated by Uri Shulevitz, was a Caldecott Medal honor book in 2009. The book draws on the scientific field of geography to tell the story of a boy who uses maps and his imagination to escape from the trials and tribulations of life during World War II.
2008 – First the Egg
First the Egg, written and illustrated by Laura Vaccaro Seeger, was a Caldecott Medal honor book in 2008. The book demonstrates the scientific concept of metamorphosis, including the classic examples of a larva turning into a butterfly and an egg turning first into a chick and later into a chicken, among others.
2007 – Gone Wild: An Endangered Animal Alphabet
Gone Wild: An Endangered Animal Alphabet, written and illustrated by David McLimans, was a Caldecott Medal honor book in 2007. The book introduces kids to both animal science and conservation as each letter of the alphabet is shown in the shape of an endangered animal. Each letter is accompanied by an explanation of the animal’s habitat and range as well as the causes contributing to its endangered status.
2006 – Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems
Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems, illustrated by Beckie Prange and written by Joyce Sidman, was a Caldecott Medal honor book in 2006. This book takes as its inspiration the scientific study of plants and animals found in wetlands. It uses both poetry and factual descriptions to bring to life the ecology of a pond.