Reading List: Children’s Books About STEM

childrens books stem

 

Children’s books are great resources for STEM education: they’re written at a level that a child can understand, and books about science, technology, engineering, and math for children are increasingly published. The library’s Family Room houses books on these subjects as well as fiction and middle-grade books. If you’re a student teacher or a parent, you can use this reading list to pick up educational children’s STEM books from the library.

*Book descriptions provided by the publishers, c/o the library catalog

 

The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind by William Kamkwamba

When 14-year-old William Kamkwamba’s Malawi village was hit by a drought in 2001, everyone’s crops began to fail. His family didn’t have enough money for food, let alone school, so William spent his days in the library. He came across a book on windmills and figured out how to build a windmill that could bring electricity to his village. Everyone thought he was crazy but William persevered and managed to create a functioning windmill out of junkyard scraps. Several years later he figured out how to use the windmill for irrigation purposes.

 

Hey, Water! by Antoinette Pointis

Splash along with a spunky little girl who realizes that water is everywhere. But water doesn’t always look the same, it doesn’t always feel the same, and it shows up in lots of different shapes. And so the girl launches into a spirited game of hide-and-seek with water, discovering it in nature, in weather, and even in herself.

 

Little Leonardo’s Fascinating World of Science by Bob Cooper

Introduces kids to the vast and varied areas of science and the different types of scientists they can aspire to become. Whether it’s ancient dinosaur bones unearthed by paleontologists, anthropologists studying different cultures around the globe, or new planets discovered by astronomers, there’s bound to be something here any child will find fascinating and appealing.

 

The Girl With A Mind For Math by Julia Finley Mosca

This is a rhyming-text picture book about Raye Montague. After touring a German submarine in the early 1940s, young Raye set her sights on becoming an engineer. Little did she know sexism and racial inequality would challenge that dream every step of the way, even keeping her greatest career accomplishment a secret for decades. Through it all, the gifted mathematician persisted, finally gaining her well-deserved title in history: a pioneer who changed the course of ship design forever.

 

The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rainforest by Lynne Cherry

The many different animals that live in a great Kapok tree in the Brazilian rainforest try to convince a man with an ax of the importance of not cutting down their home.

 

The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield

Chris loves rockets and planets and pretending he’s a brave astronaut, exploring the universe. Only one problem: at night, Chris doesn’t feel so brave. He’s afraid of the dark. But when he watches the groundbreaking moon landing on TV, he realizes that space is the darkest dark there is, and the dark is beautiful and exciting, especially when you have big dreams to keep you company. (Inspired by the childhood of real-life astronaut Chris Hadfield.)

 

Even An Octopus Needs A Home by Irene Kelly

Shows how animals solve the problem of locating safe places in which to live and raise families.

 

The Brooklyn Bridge: A Wonders of the World Book by Elizabeth Mann

Describes the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, from its conception by John Roebling in 1852 through, after many setbacks, its final completion under the direction of his son, Washington, in 1883.

 

Are You A Beetle? by Judy Allen

This colorful first nature book introduces preschoolers to the world of the beetle. Ideal for reading aloud or as a first reader, the witty text and detailed illustrations bring this familiar creature to life. Young children will be fascinated by this tiny living thing found right in their own backyard.

 

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca

Here is the story of the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon: a story of leaving and returning during the summer of 1969, and a story of home, seen whole, from far away by steady astronauts in their great machines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading List: Children’s Books About Women In History

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Did you know that March is Women’s History Month? The library has many excellent books on this subject; in particular, we’d like to highlight some of our children’s books about women in history. Adults and kids alike will enjoy these beautifully illustrated and thoughtfully written stories about women who changed the world.

 

Reading List:

Girls Think Of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions By Women by Catherine Thimmesh

Expanded and revised, this new edition of the best-selling book celebrates the ingenious inventions of women throughout time. As inspiring as they are fascinating, these stories empower readers to imagine, to question, to experiment, and then to go forth and invent!

 

Who Was Sacagawea? by Judith Bloom Fradin

Learn all about the life and times of Sacagawea, the Shoshoni woman who helped explorers Lewis and Clark find their way. This book begins with the story of how Sacagawea came to be depicted on the dollar coin and continues with Sacagawea’s life story.

 

Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People To Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford

Follow both the physical and spiritual journey of Harriet Tubman as she escapes slavery and then helps others to find freedom, too. Moses is a great book for learning about antebellum life in the U.S and African American history.

 

I Could Do That! Esther Morris Gets Women The Vote by Linda White

In 1869, a woman whose “can-do” attitude had shaped her life was instrumental in making Wyoming the first state to allow women to vote, then became the first woman to hold public office in the United States. The story of Esther Morris is inspiring and told in a fun way by I Could Do That!

 

Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story by Caren Stelson

Sachiko is the story of a young girl who lived through the bombing of Nagasaki in World War II. While this book is geared more toward middle grade and early high school kids, it’s an emotional, moving look at a tragic event in history.

 

Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

This version of the bestselling Hidden Figures is perfect for children to understand. You’ll learn all about NASA, space, science, and the African American women mathematicians who greatly contributed to NASA’s programs in spite of Jim Crow laws.

 

Rosa by Nikki Giovanni

This striking picture book depicts Rosa Parks’ famous stand for Civil Rights, as well as the events that followed. Illustrator Bryan Collier’s cut-paper images make the story leap off the page for young readers.

 

Amelia And Eleanor Go For A Ride by Pam Munoz Ryan

Two famous women in history in one book? Sign us up! This fictionalized account of the night that Amelia Earhart flew Eleanor Roosevelt over Washington, D.C. is charming and fun.

 

The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Meran’s Art Changed Science by Joyce Sidman

Beautifully illustrated, The Girl Who Drew Butterflies tells the story of Maria Meran and how she figured out the process of metamorphosis. Some of Meran’s own artwork is featured in this book!

 

These books are available for check out in the library’s Family Room!

Top 5 Popular Book Series At The Library

book series

What is your favorite book series? Other than items on Reserve, books from popular series are the most checked out items in the library. Read the list below to see which ones our patrons enjoy.

 

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

This series has been so popular here at the library that we’ve gotten a second set of copies! We also have the lovely illustrated versions, the movies, and Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them.

 

Percy Jackson & The Olympians series by Rick Riordan

The Percy Jackson books practically fly off the shelves in our Family Room. Old and young readers alike will enjoy these mythically-based adventures.

 

A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin

While readers are still waiting for George R.R. Martin to finish the next book, we have all of his current A Song of Ice and Fire books here at the library. We also have the Game of Thrones companion book Fire And Blood, which tells the history of the Targaryen family.

 

The Lord of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

This wouldn’t be a list of popular series without the timeless classics of The Lord of The Rings trilogy (and The Hobbit). The movies are also available in our DVD section!

 

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

We recently acquired the last few books in this dynamic fantasy series. The Throne of Glass books can be found in our Family Room.

 

Bonus: Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer

Revisit the wildly popular (and possibly the most infamous) book series of the early 2000s. We have all of the Twilight novels and a Twilight novella at the library.

 

Reading List: Fun Books For Light Reading

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We get asked a lot about “fun” and “light” books to read. Maybe they have a playful plot, a beautiful setting, or a funny protagonist. These are the kinds of books that are perfect for a study break! We’ve compiled a list below of some fun books that will put a smile on your face (and give your brain a break, too). Click the links to see where each book is located in the library.

 

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

It’s the story of Cinderella, but with a twist: Ella is actually under a curse that she’s trying to break. Ella Enchanted is funny, romantic, and smart.

 

Wildwood by Colin Melloy

When her baby brother is kidnapped by crows, seventh-grader Prue McKeel ventures into the forbidden Impassable Wilderness (a dangerous and magical forest at the edge of Portland, Oregon) and soon finds herself involved in a war among the various inhabitants.

 

Holes by Louis Sachar

Holes is an entertaining read about a boy who is sent to a correctional camp with a mysterious history. If you liked the movie, then you’ll love the book- it has the same sense of humor and mischief!

 

Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers

You can’t go wrong with the classic story of the practically-perfect-in-every-way Mary Poppins. Pair the short novel with the original movie and the reboot: we have them all here at the library!

 

Greater Than Gold by David Boudia

Learn all about the inspiring story of Olympic athlete David Boudia in his book Greater Than Gold. Boudia talks about how his faith in God changed his life.

 

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To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

If you enjoy romantic comedies, then you should pick up To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. This Young Adult book details the mishaps of teenager Lara Jean, whose secret love letters somehow get mailed to all of her crushes from throughout the years.

 

Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus

In 1841, rescued by an American whaler after a shipwreck leaves him and his four companions castaways on a remote island, fourteen-year-old Manjiro, who dreams of becoming a samurai, learns new laws and customs as he becomes the first Japanese person to set foot in the United States.

 

Bunnicula by Deborah and James Howe

One of my all-time favorite middle-grade books, Bunnicula is the story of a rabbit that just might be a vampire and the other pets of the family who are trying to solve this mystery. Oh, and it’s absolutely hilarious.

 

Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer

Author Jonah Lehrer believes that creativity is not a single gift possessed by the lucky few- it’s something that everyone can use and develop. There’s a lot to learn from this creative nonfiction book!

 

How To Be A Good Creature by Sy Montgomery

A naturalist and adventurer discusses the personalities and quirks of thirteen animals who have profoundly affected her, exploring themes of learning to become empathetic, creating families, coping with loss, and the otherness and sameness of people and animals.

 

Matthew’s Monday Movie: “Zootopia”

Disney has long used animals to entertain us, but they also insert a subtle message or morals into their stories. Most of the time, it’s a simple message of being brave or learning that you have inner value and that your dreams can come true. Occasionally, the story can take on a deeper meaning that both children and adults can relate to and value. Zootopia is one of those films.

It is the story of a world where anthropomorphic animals evolved over time to where predators and prey now live in peace and harmony with each other. The animals in this world have jobs, just like regular people, but they’re more catered to their habitat and size. The animals in this world usually stick to their natural inclinations or temperaments most associated with the various species. This is not always the case, however, as we meet our protagonist: a rabbit by the name of Judy Hopps, voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin. Judy dreams of leaving her small town and becoming a cop and serving her fellow animals in the bustling metropolis of Zootopia. She is consistently regarded as inferior due to her size and species. Most police in this world are physically larger and brutish animals like lions, bears, and wolves. Judy, however, wishes to make her mark and earn the respect of her fellow officers.

Judy soon stumbles upon a sly fox named Nick Wilde, voiced by Jason Bateman. Nick is a professional con artist who has become disillusioned with his original hopes and dreams and has let himself become exactly what other animals always accused his nature of being. The two become unlikely partners and eventually friends due to a mysterious plot involving disappearing predatory animals and a more insidious agenda that could lead to chaos in Zootopia unless they can stop it.

This film tackles issues involving prejudice, bullying, and bigotry. It handles these issues in a very easy to understand way, becoming even tongue-in-cheek at times.  The lesson is simple and well-timed given our current social climate; Zootopia teaches that you should never prejudge someone based on their immutable characteristics, let alone an entire group.

Zootopia was extremely well received among audiences. It grossed over one billion dollars worldwide, making it one of the highest grossing animated films of all time. It also went on to receive an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film.

Zootopia is a witty, PG-rated film for the whole family, and it is available at the Union University Library.

 

 

Book Review: “Before I Fall” by Lauren Oliver

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Have you seen the movie Groundhog Day? Even if you haven’t, you’re probably familiar with the basic thematic concept of living the same day over and over again- it’s been done in many movies and books. Sometimes this kind of storyline can get boring and repetitive. However, when it’s done right, it can be effective and even entertaining, and Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver is a great example of this.

Before I Fall  examines the life of a popular “mean girl,” Samantha Kingston, and what happens when she dies and then has to relive her last day multiple times.

 

What Before I Fall does right: Samantha (Sam) goes through the stages of grief when she realizes that she has died, has to relive her last day, and isn’t sure why or how to get out of it. One day shows her taking a nihilistic view- if she’s really dead, then nothing she does matters, right? On a different day, she’s so grateful to see her parents, friends, and town again that she practically beams the whole day. I find this take on the popular “Groundhog Day” theme to be pretty realistic.

The characters in Before I Fall dance off the page as if they were real. Hardly anyone is two dimensional, even though they may seem that way at first. Sam learns more and more about the people around her and how her actions have affected them for better or for worse. She seeks to make things right with those she has wronged- in particular, she wants to help a bullied girl named Juliet when Sam realizes that Juliet committed suicide on the same original day that Sam died.

Sam herself undergoes a fair amount of character development, but it doesn’t seem rushed, forced, or overly moralistic. She changes slowly, with plenty of frustration about her situation and toward her friends when they don’t understand why she seems different with each relived day. It’s a believable amount of growth, but Before I Fall still leaves you with that glowing sense of redemption.

 

What Before I Fall gets wrong: There are parts of the book that seem a little long, and there are times when Sam makes choices that seem cringey or obviously wrong- doesn’t she know better by now? But all of this is leading to her ultimate redemption, and it’s worth it to keep reading.

 

Who should read Before I Fall: Older teenagers, college students, and adults alike may enjoy this realistic depiction of teenage life (played out through an unrealistic Groundhog Day theme). Before I Fall can be very sad at times, but the ultimate messages are of love, friendship, family, and redemption.

 

Who shouldn’t read Before I Fall: With its mature themes and language, Before I Fall is not marketed towards younger readers. However, older readers will probably enjoy and relate to this book. Please be warned, however, that this book contains heavy themes and intense depictions of teen and adult problems (think Thirteen Reasons Why and read the content note below).

 

Content note: language, suggestive content, heavy themes (including eating disorders, suicide, and inappropriate relationships).

 

Before I Fall is available in the library’s Family Room.

Spotlight On Library Displays

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Did you know that the library creates displays to showcase our collection? Each month, a new display theme goes up on the first-floor bookcase near the stairs. Monthly themes include:

  • Star Wars
  • Harry Potter
  • Summer Reading
  • STEM
  • Historical Fiction

and more!

 

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We also have books on display in the Family Room. These include children’s books and young adult books. Pictured below is our “Universe of Stories” display!

universe display

 

All of the books, audiobooks, and DVDs on display are available for checkout. Just take the item you want to the Circulation Desk and they will check it out for you.

Book Review: “The Bigfoot Files” by Lindsay Eagar

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The Bigfoot Files by Lindsay Eagar is a new middle-grade book at the library. Miranda Cho is a young girl with big aspirations and anxiety; she struggles to cope with her mom’s Bigfoot obsession and frequent travel (which makes Miranda miss school).

 

What The Bigfoot Files does right: Miranda has “to make things perfect. Even if other elements of her life threatened to ruin everything.” She struggles with Trichotillomania, a hair-pulling disorder, and her anxiety is often worsened by her mom’s inconstancy. Miranda’s desire to do her best, coupled with her fractured home life, make her a sympathetic character. She’s only 12, and yet she feels like she has the whole world on her shoulders.

The sense of “what if” is fun to read about, even as Miranda tries to deny the existence of cryptozoology animals. I also appreciated the Bigfoot clues that Miranda and Kat find, as my dad often looked for the same signs in real life. The author did her research!

What The Bigfoot Files gets wrong: This is more of an editing issue, but some of the wording is a little confusing. British words and spellings are used throughout the book- like “crisps” instead of “chips.” There’s nothing wrong with the British dialect, but it’s confusing because the book’s setting is in the United States. I kept wondering if Miranda and her mother were British immigrants, since Miranda called Kat “mum” so often. The characters’ dialect does not match where they are from, and there is no explanation given for this, so it might take you out of the story at times.

Who should read The Bigfoot Files: Anyone who enjoys biology and botany- the nature descriptions are spot-on. People who like stories about mothers and daughters with a little mystery thrown in.

Who shouldn’t read The Bigfoot Files: If you don’t enjoy woodsy descriptions, then this book is probably not for you. Most of The Bigfoot Files takes place in a national park.

 

The Bigfoot Files is available in the library’s Family Room.

Book Review: “Amal Unbound” by Aisha Saeed

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This is what I now remember most about my last afternoon at school- the smell of the dusty chalkboard, the sound of the students lingering outside the door, and, mostly, how easily I took my ordinary life for granted.

Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed is the story of a bright Pakistani girl who has to make the most of unfortunate circumstances. When Amal’s mother begins to struggle with post-partum depression, Amal stays home from school to take care of her younger sisters. She dreams of a better future when she can go to college and become a teacher. When Amal accidentally offends a member of her village’s ruling family, she is forced into indentured servitude and her whole world turns upside down.

What Amal Unbound gets right: It’s refreshing to read a book that’s not set in the United States. Amal’s story is uniquely Pakistani, and reading about her culture helped me learn new words and customs. The injustice that Amal faces is heartrending, but we cheer for Amal as she learns how to navigate the world and still be herself. Aisha Saeed wrote the fictional story of Amal as a reflection of Malala Yousafzai and her fight for women’s education, and Saeed hopes that Amal Unbound and similar stories will inspire young girls all over the world to stand up for what is right.

What Amal Unbound gets wrong: Nothing, really. My only caveat is that this book is written for a younger audience than me, so there’s some repetition here and there. However, that’s not a reason to ignore this book! The story is compelling for both adults and children.

Who should read Amal Unbound: Middle-grade children, teens, and adults who want to learn about different cultures, customs, and global problems.

Who shouldn’t read Amal Unbound: Adults who prefer adult narratives.

Featured Author: Maurice Sendak

The path to success is to take massive, determined action.-1

 

Maurice Sendak was born on June 10th, 1928 in New York City. Sendak excelled at art as a child; he would often draw illustrations while sick at home. When Sendak grew older, he began to illustrate children’s books. In 1956, the first book that was both illustrated and written by Sendak was published: Kenny’s Window. 1968 would see one of Sendak’s most popular and renowned books: Where The Wild Things Are (a Caldecott medal winner).

Some of Sendak’s other well-known books include:

 

Sendak has also lent his illustrations to many children’s books, including The Moon Jumpers and Brundibar.

In 2012, Sendak died at age 83. However, his books and illustrations for children will continue to delight kids for generations.

Click here to see which Sendak books the library has to offer.