A Picture Book Is Worth a Thousand Words – STEM Books

Here it is, the long awaited sequel to A Picture Book is Worth a Thousand Words Part 1. I know you’ve been patiently waiting for its publication. It’s a good thing this isn’t Top Gun, and you only had to wait a month for this installment! This time I will be focussing on picture books which focus on STEM topics. I have chosen one book for each STEM area plus videos and activities that can be done in conjunction with the books.


Thank You, Dr. Salk book cover

Thank You, Dr. Salk!: The Scientist Who Beat Polio and Healed the World
By: Dean Robbins

This picture book tells the true story of the quiet child who grew up to develop the vaccine for Polio and save the lives of millions of children.

Information on Polio can be found on the CDC website.

Pair the reading of the picture book with a hands-on activity for learning more about viruses and antibodies. Information and videos for these activities can be found at the: British Society for Immunology.

Grace Hopper book cover

Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code
By: Laurie Wallmark

Log Book with actual computer bug.This delightful book shows both the fun and serious sides of groundbreaking computer scientist Grace Hopper from her endless curiosity as a child to her distinguished military career.

Grace Hopper’s Computer Bug.

Pair it with this fun Dr. Binocs short video about Grace Hopper.

Then follow up with this resource guide with discussion questions, a binary code activity, and a cut and paste timeline that can be found on Laurie Wallmark’s Website.


Someone Builds the Dream 
By: Lisa Wheeler, Illustrations by Loren Long

This beautifully written and illustrated book tells the story of all of the people it takes to make a dream (a bridge, an amusement park, a building, a book) a reality. This is one of my absolute favorites!

This book pairs nicely with the next text.

Someone Builds the Dream book cover
How Do Bridges Not Fall Down book cover

How Do Bridges Not Fall Down
By: Jennifer Shand

This book shares different types of bridge constructions and the building techniques used to make bridges that have lasted for centuries.

Follow up with some Bridge Building Challenges like these:

STEM Bridge Building Challenges
Drinking Straw Bridge

Students building their own bridges.

My students building their own bridges after being inspired by picture books.


The Math Curse 
By: Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith

In this oldie but goodie, a young girl wakes up with a “math curse.” Suddenly every part of her life is a math problem.

Pair this book with almost any math activity, but here are some ideas that tie directly to the book.

Fibonacci activities
Fibonacci and the Golden Ratio

Math Curse book cover
Those Shoes book cover

Those Shoes 
By: Maribeth Boelts

A sweet story of a boy who wants “those shoes” that everyone else in his class seems to have, a grandma who reminds him of the difference between “wants” and “needs,” and a touching act of kindness.

Links to Discussion Questions and Character Map

Pair it with this fun inference activity (The link to download is at the bottom)
Finally, have your students design and build their own pair of shoes. You can set your own criteria, but here are some examples of lessons.

STEM shoe challenge

STEM Discovery Recycled Materials shoes

Design your own snazzy sneakers

There is no limit to the learning and fun you and your students can have with picture books in your STEM classroom.

Picture books can be a springboard for discussions and activities for students of all ages and abilities.

Other amazing STEM books for you to try:

  • The Great Stink: How Joseph Bazalgette Solved London’s Poop Pollution Problem By: Colleen Paeff
  • A Life Electric: The Story of Nikola Tesla By: Azadeh Westergaard
  • CRASH! BOOM! A Math Tale By: Robie H. Harris
  • If: A Mind-Bending New Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers By David J. Smith
  • The Crayon Man: The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons by Natascha Biebow
  • Fairy Science Solid, Liquid, Gassy by Ashley Spires
  • 11 Experiments That Failed by Jenny Offill

While colorful and fun, picture books aren’t just for our smallest students. They can be a springboard for discussions and activities for students of all ages and abilities. These are just a few suggestions for books and activities. Use them as-is, or as inspiration for your own creative lessons.


  • Jen Stewart is currently teaching a brand new, project based STEM class at Maxwell Intermediate School. This is her 24th year of teaching. Prior to this year she taught computer science, social studies, and language arts. Jen is a long-time Nearpod PioNear and a level three Nearpod Certified Educator. She is also an Apple Teacher. She has led many PD sessions around the Midwest on using technology to increase student engagement and learning.

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