Photo: Josh Applegate
School’s out soon, with vacation just a few weeks away, so it’s the perfect time to pick up some books for your kids to read during the hot months of a Canadian summer. As an avid reader, I’ve been planning my summer book list each year since the age of four…after reading through Dr. Seuss’s “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish”, I quickly recognized the importance of having books on standby for summer vacation. I hope I passed the passion for summer reading on to my own daughter, who leans towards social justice and feminism topics when choosing books.
While not a STEM topic, Dr. Seuss was a great introduction to the world of books – and the importance of reading is just as important today as it’s ever been. In this time of technology, there are some great educational tech tools available for children of all ages – at an early age kids are introduced to computers and other digital devices that can help them learn in new and exciting ways. However, the educational value of books can never be underestimated
The Power of Books
It’s crucial that children learn to read, read well, and read often. Reading books that are STEM related is the perfect way for kids to develop and keep up with their literacy skills when they’re home for the summer. It’s also a good opportunity to introduce them to science, technology, engineering, and math topics, letting them explore and engage in creative and diverse ways of thinking.
Making STEM Available to Children
Children need to know that STEM education and careers are just as available for them as they are for everyone else. This is particularly important for girls – although they’re making great strides, girls continue be left behind in the STEM fields. Providing children with books about a wide variety of topics and interests will motivate them to step outside of the box and think in unique and wonderful ways.
Fiction or Non-Fiction?
There are both fiction and non-fiction STEM books on this list for summer reading. Fiction lets kids connect with role models in STEM fields, including other children their own age. Through story and imagination, they can see how problems are approached and solved.
Non-fiction teaches them STEM concepts, such as coding, and incites their curiosity about science, math, and all things technology-related.
Our Summer Reading List
Are you ready to encourage your budding scientist or little coder to curl up in the shade with a good book? I’ve shared some of the best picks here, so you can get ready to inspire readers of all ages. All books are available at Indigo Bookstore:
- ABCs of Mathematics
by Chris Ferrie
Chris Ferrie is a Canadian mathematician, physicist, and author – who believes that it’s never too early to learn about math. Bright, bold, and colourful, this book will capture the attention of babies and toddlers.
- Ten Birds
by Cybèle Young
Preschool and up
Written and illustrated by Canadian artist Cybele Young, this counting book for young readers is more than that. Using a variety of tools such as catapults, pulleys, and stilts, ten birds need to find ways to get to the other side of the river. This is a witty book that encourages clever ways of thinking to solve a problem.
- Young Frank, Architect
by Frank Viva
Kindergarten and up
Torontonian Frank Viva tells the tale of young Frank, who is without a doubt an architect. This is a fun picture book, exciting young readers to design and build. When young Frank starts to doubt his dream of being an architect, his grandfather takes him on a trip to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, where young Frank’s passion to build is renewed.
- The Darkest Dark
by Chris Hadfield
Ages 4 to 8
What list of STEM books would be complete without this one written by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield? Inspired by Hadfield’s own childhood, young Chris loves planets, space and rockets. But at night, he’s afraid of the dark. That is until he sees the moon landing on television and gains a new understanding of just how wonderful and exciting space can be.
- Not Just Another Princess Story
by Sheri Radford
What child can resist a fairy tale? An author from British Columbia, Sheri Radford creatively tells the story of math-loving Princess Candi. Not content to marry just anyone, the Princess sets out on a quest to find someone who likes math and algebra just as much as she does.
- Secret Coders
by Gene Luen Yang and illustrated by Mike Holmes
Graphic novels are always a big hit with kids – my eleven year old nephew is proof of this. Give him a graphic book to read and he’ll disappear into the story until he reaches the end. Illustrated by Canadian Mike Holmes, young readers join Hopper and her friend Eni as they use their wits and coding to solve the many mysteries at Stately Academy School. There are six books in this series and by the time kids reach the last book, they’re using logic and basic programing to conquer the world.
- Salamander Rescue
by Pamela McDowell
Ages 7 to 9
In this chapter book by Alberta author Pamela McDowell, Cricket and her friends think up solutions to help the long-toed salamander cross the road from the pond to their hibernation grounds. Young readers will appreciate the way STEM thinking helps the environment.
- DNA Detective
by Tanya Lloyd Kyi
Not just used to solve crime, the genetic blueprint of DNA is fascinating. This author from British Columbia explains DNA in just the right way for kids to understand.
- Bet You Didn’t Know: Fascinating, Far-out, Fun-tastic Facts!
by National Geographic Kids
Ages 8 and up
Fun facts about science, astronomy, dinosaurs, and more. Kids love the bright pictures in this book and the interesting tidbits about all sorts of things that are far-out and fascinating. The second book in the series is due for publication in August…more facts your kids can’t do without.
- Ingenious: How Canadian Innovators Made the World Smarter, Smaller, Kinder, Safer, Healthier, Wealthier, and Happier
by David Johnston and Tom Jenkins
Ages 11 and up
For older readers, learn all about amazing Canadian ideas and ingenious innovations. Inventions such as snowshoes and lifejackets all the way to advances in science, engineering, and medicine – this is a great book to teach children about some of the things that put Canada on the map.
With books, we can invite children of all ages to engage and become involved in STEM thinking. The best STEM books explore problems and solutions through thinking – and of course action, as those thoughts become reality. Pick up a few of the books on this list and let your kids dive into a summer with STEM.