As a former molecular biologist and mom of three, I'm passionate about sharing my love of science with kids. I've come up with hundreds of DIY kitchen science experiments to show that science is both meaningful and fun. It's so gratifying when I see kids' eyes light up as they realize that science is not scary and abstract, but a very tangible thing they can do.
Books are another exciting on-ramp to the world of science and discovery for kids. Fictional accounts of curious, adventuresome kids spark imagination, while true tales of scientists passionately pursuing the truth gives science context and helps us see possibility in our everyday lives.
That's why I was excited to discover these inspirational science books for kids. These stories inspire kids to ask"why," and emphasize the importance of making bold blunders and enduring hardships while pursuing passions.
Great Science Books for Kids
- Ada Twist, Scientist begins with a small girl who spends her days observing the world, until she opens her mouth to ask “why?” Her parents smile at the “curious thoughts of their curious child” as she explores the world around her. At one point, they gently reign her in, but the budding scientist is encouraged to pursue her passion for asking questions and testing hypotheses. In the process, she inspires everyone around her, from her parents to her classmates, to be more curious.
- Rosie Revere, Engineer emphasizes the importance of making mistakes in the creative process. Young Rosie hides her early inventions after her uncle laughs at one of them. Finding courage a few years later, she builds a fabulous invention for a much-loved aunt, which fails spectacularly. Her Aunt laughs and says, “Your greatest flop is over, It’s time for the next,” and Rosie realizes that failures are essential to invention.
- The antagonist in Iggy Peck, Architect is a teacher who has had a bad experience in a skyscraper and won’t let anyone talk about buildings in her classroom. Unable to incorporate his passion for building into his day, Iggy starts to hate school. Luckily, Iggy’s parents are encouraging and one day, on a field trip, his brilliant building skills save the day, and his teacher has a change of heart.
- Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World contains fabulously told and illustrated portraits of a diverse group of over 50 women scientists, past and present, who have used their curiosity and innovation to make the world a better place. From mathematicians and astronauts, to microbiologists and primatologists, the stories of these brilliant women demonstrate the breadth of possibilities that aspiring scientists have available to explore.
Pairing the Ada or Rosie books with Women in Science would be a start-to-finish demonstration of how it’s possible to go from simple beginnings, like asking “why,” to exciting, and potentially world-changing careers. The books also encourage exhausted parents to be supportive of their children’s creative energy, even if it means occasionally putting up with a messy kitchen table. The illustrations in the Ada, Rosie, Iggy, and Women in Science books are absolutely delightful.
Sit down with a child to read one of these fabulous stories, and you’ll be as inspired as they are. Maybe you’ll even want to inflate a balloon using baking soda and vinegar to learn how baking soda can make bubbles, or do an experiment with salt, a string and an ice cube to see “why” trucks apply salt to icy roads in the winter.
Read more from Liz in her new book STEAM Lab for Kids: 52 Creative Hands-On Projects Using Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (Quarry Books, spring 2018).