STEM Summer Reading List: Books for Kids

The summer months are a fun time for kids to play and spend time with their friends and family. While this time is meant to lift spirits and create a sense of excitement, parents must help students balance their fun with activities that stimulate their brains. It is easy for students to slip into the summer slump, which is when they start to lose some of the information they learned during the previous school year. The summer slump more dramatically affects science, technology, engineering, and mathematics subjects, because of their technical nature. 

One effective way for parents to combat the summer slump and get students ready to successfully jump back into learning is through summer reading. Reading opens up a new world to kids, introducing them to new topics and ways of thinking. In this article, we will explore STEM reading lists for elementary students, middle school students, and high school students who are looking to improve their STEM literacy skills this summer.

STEM Reading List for Elementary School Students

Early introduction to STEM curricula is key to students’ long-term success with these subjects. During the summer, parents can help students create a strong STEM learning foundation through engaging books. When looking for STEM books for elementary school students, it is important to ensure reading level and skill set alignment. Below are a handful of books for elementary students to jumpstart their love for reading and STEM.

1. Rosie Revere Engineer

Rosie Revere Engineer by Andrea Beaty is an inspiring STEM book that introduces children to a key idea in life and STEM – it is okay to fail. This picture book shows the power of persistence and resilience, two key lessons for any young learner.

2. Ada Twist, Scientist

Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty is a picture book about Ada Twist, a curious learner who is full of questions. Throughout this book, children learn about problem-solving, asking questions, and using their imagination to drive their learning experience. 

3. The Most Magnificent Thing

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires is the story of a young girl who, throughout the book, works to turn her idea of the most magnificent thing into a reality. Through trial and error, she learns about the difficulties of the creative process and the importance of self-confidence. 

STEM Reading List for Middle School Students

By middle school, most students have started to understand which subjects they enjoy and where their skills are the strongest. This can be both an advantage and disadvantage to parents, depending on the child’s interpretation of their education. Whether you are a parent of a passionate STEM learner who is always interested in new topics, or a parent of a STEM-shy student who does not think they are skilled enough, there are STEM reading books to suggest this summer! Below are STEM reading books for middle school students to spark a new passion and prepare them for the coming school year.

1. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba tells the powerful story of William Kamkwamba, a young inventor, who brought electricity to his family’s village in Malawi during an extreme drought. This book has since been made into a Netflix film that can be watched after the completion of the book. 

2. Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab: A Mystery with Gadgets You Can Build Yourself

Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab: A Mystery with Gadgets You Can Build Yourself by Bob Pflugfelder is a story of two brothers who have a passion for STEM and exploring. They are sent to live with their Uncle Newt, an inventor, which sparks an adventurous side in the boys. Throughout the book, they turn into engineers, creating new and innovative contraptions.

3. Awesome Engineering for Kids: 50 Fun Activities

Awesome Engineering for Kids: 50 Fun Activities by Christina Schul introduces students to a variety of hands-on STEM and STEAM activities to do over the summer. Each activity promotes child-led learning, where they take control of their own learning experience. 

STEM Reading List for High School Students

By the time children enter high school, they are starting to think more about their future. The idea of what they want to be when they grow up goes from being a far-off dream to something they have to decide in the coming years. Through summer reading, they can begin to explore different career paths, areas of interest, and passion points they may have. Below are STEM reading options for high school students that will provoke thoughtful exploration of their future.

1. Astrophysics for Young People in a Hurry

Astrophysics for Young People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse introduces the basics of astrophysics to young adults in an approachable, engaging way. Through words, pictures, and infographics, children will begin to understand the fundamentals of astrophysics and the way it impacts the world around them.

2. Coding for Absolute Beginners and Cybersecurity

Coding for Absolute Beginners and Cybersecurity by Alan Grid is a comprehensive introduction to the programming world. Throughout the book, children will learn the fundamentals of JavaScript, Python Programming, cybersecurity, and more.

3. Hidden Figures Your Readers’ Edition

Hidden Figures Your Readers’ Edition by Margot Lee Shetterly tells the impactful true story of impactful women in history, such as Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden who lived through the Civil Rights era, paving the way for the gender equality movement in STEM. 

Engaging STEM Non-Fiction for All Ages

Throughout this article, we have broken out STEM reading options based on student grade level. This is done to help parents better navigate and choose books that closely align with their child’s skills and interests. However, learning is a lifelong process and skill that does not start at a certain age and, certainly, does not end at one either. Below are engaging STEM non-fiction books for individuals of any age. 

1. Chemistry for Breakfast The Amazing Science of Everyday Life

Chemistry for Breakfast The Amazing Science of Everyday Life by Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim introduces how science concepts impact things we see and do daily. This book brings to light the connected nature of science and the world around us.

2. How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World

How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson explores innovators throughout the centuries who have successfully created inventions that shape the world we live in today. This book is perfect for anyone interested in the history and the progression of STEM over the years. 

3. The Exceptions: Nancy Hopkins and the Fight for Women in Science

The Exceptions: Nancy Hopkins and the Fight for Women in Science by Kate Zernike tells the compelling life story of Nancy Hopkins who navigated being a woman in STEM. Throughout the book, it discusses the hardships the Hopkin endured while paving the way for women in STEM, more specifically, science.

Encouraging a Summer of STEM Learning

Parents must promote student engagement in STEM through the summer months to help their children avoid the summer slump. Through engaging summer reading options, students can improve their STEM literacy skills and prepare themselves to quickly and successfully integrate back into the classroom. 

If you are a parent looking for hands-on ways to aid student learning over the summer alongside the use of STEM reading, click here to explore the STEM Sports® curricula offerings. 

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