In this monthly STEAM series, I will highlight some wonderful picture books that fall under a STEAM category: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics. For the month of January we will be concentrating on engineering books, including biographies, how to build a backyard, construction and building blocks, along with books on tools. These picture books can be found in our print collection at The Trove and on OverDrive. At the end of the post, you'll also find some fun and educational STEAM websites for kids.
Future Engineer by Lori Alexander, illustrated by Allison Black
This fun and playful book introduces young scholars to the world of engineering. The board book explains that engineers know how things work and ask a lot of questions. The illustrations depict side-by-side pictures of an adult drawing their ideas on paper and a computer while the baby delightfully draws on paper… and sometimes the wall! The book also includes fun engineering facts and vocabulary at the end.
Junkyard by Mike Austin
A fun and nonsensical rhyme book about munching machines that chomp up rusty school buses, cars, old planes, anchors and chains. They chew through broken bed frames, tires, toitles and tangled wires! Once the tub of toxic waste and curly metal springs are gone, these machines begin to build something wonderful and new! Read along and let your imagination run wild as you plan, plant and play in the junkyard.
Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts
Rosie Revere dreamed of becoming a great engineer. Rosie began to build gadgets and gizmos that she loved and hid them under her bed. She learned from her aunt who was a builder and yet wasn’t quite sure how to make one of her inventions fly. Rosie wondered if she could ever build a gadget to help her aunt fly. Rosie tried and might have failed but her aunt allowed her to make mistakes. The only failure can come if you quit! This wonderful book uses rhyme and beautiful art to portray the creativity and innovation of Rosie Revere. A delightful and playful book!
Check out some Rosie Revere, Engineer engineering activities!
- Andrea Beaty: Rosie Revere, Engineer
- Andrea Beaty: Activities and Resources
- Andrea Beaty: Rosie Revere, Engineer Educational Resources
Freight Train by Donald Crews
This beautifully illustrated book depicts a black steam engine rolling along the tracks, crossing trestles and passing cities. The freight train continues to move throughout the dark and in daylight until it is gone from sight. So many young children are fascinated by trucks and trains and they will adore this book. Children will also learn new vocabulary words such as steam engine, track and caboose; along with the variety of different colors.
Little Engineers: STEAM Play and Learn by Ana Dziengel
This is an easy step-by-step book that introduces young creative minds to some fun projects. There are twenty easy to follow STEAM projects that allow kids to learn problem-solving skills and enjoy sensory learning. Try creating frozen goop, egg carton geoboards, sound tubes and a marble runs and mazes. The book provides a letter to parents and teachers on how to encourage children to be creative, innovative and learn from their mistakes.
Cool Construction & Building Blocks: Crafting Creative Toys and Amazing Games by Rebecca Felix
Do you want to learn how to make a mini magnetic block? How about creating and connecting huge cards to construct castles and bridges? If you have Legos you can make a 3-D Lego Mural or a Lego desktop! Or create clear blocks that contain objects with glitter! Also, each project lists required materials and includes illustrations that depict step-by-step instructions. Think and tinker like a toy maker. Fun for the entire family!
The ABC of Engineering by Chris Ferrie and Sarah Kaiser
Learn all about the ABC’s of engineering! A is for amplifier and B is for battery. Along with learning about electricity and force, young babies can begin to understand how electricity is the flow of electricity and a force is a push or a pull. There are detailed pictures that further enhance the vocabulary. For example, U is for Unit, and a ruler shows the difference between a meter, yard and foot. We also learn that units help communicate meaningful measurements. This is a great book for babies and anyone interested in the basics of engineering.
Everything You Need for a Treehouse by Carter Higgins and Emily Hughes
This is a whimsical book that asks young readers to begin to imagine a home of wrangled, gnarled bark. You might need tall trees and binoculars to find refuge in flora. Don’t forget to bring along tall ladders, nails, a hammer, a saw and a hard hat for your head! Use scraps, a swing and a rope to climb and slide down again. There might be a bookshelf to be built and make sure your sleeping bag can weather the winter. A fun book filled with fantastic illustrations of children unplugging, looking up, building and playing.
Engineered! Engineering Design at Work by Shannon Hunt and James Gulliver Hancock
This is a fun-filled book of facts that introduces young readers to the world of engineering. There is a section that describes who engineers are and what goes through their minds. The book also reminds us that kids are natural engineers because they ask a lot of questions. We also learn about the step-by-step process of engineering design: define, investigate, develop, create, test, optimize and share! Ever wonder what chemical and mechanical engineers do? Patrons will also learn about the Apple computer and how environmental engineers create ways to keep the planet clean. The book also features a wonderful glossary that defines words such as prototype, civil engineering and viaduct.
Tools by Taro Miura
This book explains different tools that are used by carpenters, tailors and mechanics. The illustrations are simple so that the reader can begin to understand and identify these tools. Learn what electricians, gardeners, painters and watchmakers work with as they prepare for work with their handy tools!
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon
Threatened by a horrible drought that brings famine to William Kamkwamba’s village in Malawi, young William is left without crops and food. As he watches his family and friends struggle, William stumbles upon old science books in his library and begins to look for ways to save his village. Although a few people thought it was impossible, William was able to build a windmill out of scrap metal and old bicycle parts. This true story reminds us all to believe in the impossibility of dreams. An inspiring memoir that shows how one person can make a difference in not only their village but the world.
Check out William Kamkwamba’s TED Talk!
STEAM Stories: The Backyard Build (Engineering) by Jonathan Litton, illustrated by Magali Mansilla
Suzy and Max are upset because all of their toys are broken: the swing doesn’t work, their balloon is flat and their kite is struck up a tree! Then they realize they can get help from Ms. Gizmo since she has built a birdbath. Ms. Gizmo begins to help Suzy and Max understand how to build a swing and helps them understand how a sea-saw works. At the end of this book, there is a section that explains the engineering of the story and how to problem solve and asks questions like, what else can make a good seat for a swing?
Gutsy Girls Go for Science: Engineers with STEM Projects for Kids by Diane C. Taylor
Learn about five female engineers who paved the way for future female engineers. This book introduces us to Ellen Swallow Richards, Emily Warren Roebling, Kate Gleason, Lillian Moller Gilbreth and Mary Jacobson. Learn more about the early stages of engineering. Did you know that Hypatia of Alexandria, Egypt was thought of as the first female engineer? She designed astrolabes and hydrometers! Also, each chapter offers hands-on experiments before introducing the readers to the wonderful world of these fantastic females.
Little People, Big Dreams: Zaha Hadid by M. Isabel Sanchez Vega, illustrated by Asun Amar
Zaha, a young Muslim girl, dreams about the future. Zaha loved making her own clothes and working on her bedroom furniture. Zaha realized that she also loved math and art classes. Later on, in college, Zaha’s designs were unusual. She amazed her teachers with building designs that had curved shapes. Zaha was very brave and used technology that no one else had used before. Her colleagues called her the queen of curves. She also changed the way people thought about women, especially Arab women. Zaha was also the first Muslim woman to win the awarded the Pritzker Prize, architecture’s highest honor. I truly love this series and recommend the other books in the series!
Secret Engineer: How Emily Roebling Built the Brooklyn Bridge by Rachel Dougherty
The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the greatest modern feats of engineering, and if not for Rachel Dougherty, it would not have been completed. With fascinating facts about her life, along with learning about the engineering behind this architectural achievement, Secret Engineer is a great read!
Hedy Lamarr's Double Life: Hollywood Legend and Brilliant Inventor by Laurie Wallmark, illustrated by Katy Wu
Hedy Lamarr may be most well-known for her glamour and beauty on the Hollywood movie screen, but she was also an inventor whose work on communications technology is still the center of much of what we use today. This book introduces you to Hedy Lamaar, but also does a fantastic job of introducing the scientific and engineering concepts she worked on.
- PBS Kids: Engineering Games
- TryEngineering.org: Games
- TEDEd: Engineering
- 50+ Awesome Engineering Projects for Kids
- Build a Bird Nest
- Build a Robot
- Geometric Snowman
- Make Your Own Telescope