National Science Teachers Association Reveals ‘Best STEM Books K-12'

By Marva Hinton — December 14, 2016 1 min read
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What do Ticktock Banneker’s Clock by Shana Keller and Welcome to Mars by Buzz Aldrin with Marianne J. Dyson have in common?

They’re both on the National Science Teachers Association’s inaugural list of the “Best STEM Books K-12,” which was released earlier this month.

Teachers and parents looking for books about science, technology, engineering, and math, collectively known as the STEM subjects, can now use this list to guide their choices.

But what exactly is a STEM book?

“It’s a book that integrates these disciplines, not necessarily all of them in every single book, but books that utilize one or more of the content areas and that really model the practices of STEM whether it’s innovation or design, engineering, taking an interdisciplinary approach,” said David Beacom, NSTA’s chief content officer and associate executive director.

A panel of experts in the field chose the titles for the list. More than 330 books were submitted by members of the Children’s Book Council and other publishers, and 31 were chosen as the Best STEM Books K-12.

In order to produce this list, NSTA had to seek some outside help. The group received assistance from several organizations, including the American Society for Engineering Education, the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association, and the Society of Elementary Presidential Awardees.

Beacom said the group judged the books on several factors: Were they good books students would want to read? Was the STEM content correct?

“It really does need to communicate accurate STEM content, and it needs to be interdisciplinary and take an original approach to bringing these things together,” said Beacom. “The book needs to stand out. It shouldn’t just be good. It should be one of the best.”

The list includes books about inventors like Benjamin Banneker, pioneers like Ada Lovelace, entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs, concepts such as global warming, and advances in medicine.

“We’re not at the point where there’s a typical book, and we may never get there,” said Beacom. “The disciplines are so diverse, and the quality of the submissions is so high that I suspect what we’re going to see over time is really greater diversity rather than less.”

While this list is the NSTA’s first attempt at finding the best STEM titles, the group has been producing a list of Outstanding Science Trade Books with the Children’s Book Council since 1973.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.