I’m so excited share the best STEM and STEAM chapter books (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) for kids. The stories on today’s list will make STEM enticing to elementary and middle school readers. (If it isn’t already.)
Whether or not your kids are even interested in STEM, see what develops after reading one of the books on this list. Maybe an interest will grow?
I’ve divided this into two sections: beginning chapter books and middle-grade chapter books.
If you’re looking for STEM nonfiction books, try these lists:
Ecosystems & Habitats: Picture Books About Habitats & Ecosystems
Engineering: Picture Books about Engineering and Invention
STEM: STEM Picture Books
Best STEM Beginning Chapter Books for Kids Ages 6 – 8
Ready to get your beginning readers interested in science, technology, engineering, and math? While you can read nonfiction books, these fiction stories integrate those topics. Read about a girl who loves rocks, genius inventors, and math-loving detectives.
Nick and Nack Build a Birdhouse by Brandon Budzi, illustrated by Adam Record
Highlights Puzzle Readers Level 1
Clever Nick and Nack eat a lot of ice pops then use their popsicle sticks to build a birdhouse. Help them find the materials they need by searching for the hidden objects. Sure to inspire budding engineers, this interactive early reader will be a new favorite. I’m so impressed with this series because it’s first and foremost an interesting story with a diverse main character, the interactive hidden pictures are delightful, and the integration to STEM concepts really hit the mark. Learn how to build your own birdhouse with directions at the end.
Sydney & Simon Full STEAM Ahead! by Paul A. Reynolds, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
SCIENCE, ART, TECHNOLOGY
See many possibilities there are for using STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) in your homeschool or classrooms. Sydney and Simon are twins (like the author and illustrator) working on their flower show project. Throughout the book they work together questioning, predicting, and experimenting as well as using art, music, and technology to make their booth the best it can be. Not only did I like the creative story, but I also loved the beautiful, colorful artwork.
Happy Paws: Layla and the Bots by Vicky Fang, illustrated by Christine Nishiyama
Layla wants to help her amusement park owner friend keep the park open. She investigates the problem then figures out a solution…people want to bring their dogs. She brainstorms ideas and invents new rides that help solve the problem. An entertaining, STEM-focused story.
Danger on the Reef by Jake Maddox
What an exciting adventure with great pacing. Jasmine and Arjun are siblings with scientist parents who are helping explore and clean up a coral reef. Arjun misbehaves while diving, putting himself and his sister in danger from a shark. It’s up to Jasmine to save his life and help him do better. In addition to a great adventure, you’ll also learn about ocean pollution and coral reefs.
Rosie Revere and the Raucous Riveters by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts
Rosie’s Aunt Rose and her WWII friends, the Raucous Riveters, need Rosie’s help. Their friend June broke both her arms and she needs an invention so she can paint in the upcoming art contest. Can Rosie and friends invent something to help June paint with her casts? After one disaster after another, including at the art contest, Rosie continues to persevere and problem solve to find a solution that will work.
Jada Jones Rock Star by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton
Parker Bell and the Science of Friendship by Cynthia Platt, illustrated by Rea Zhai
Parker loves science and hopes she and her team will win a medal in the science competition. The lovely friendship and STEM book engages readers in a relatable story about Parker’s new friendships as well as using the scientific method for invention, robots, & egg drops.
Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Brian Biggs
Ellie, Engineer by Jackson Pearce
Franny K. Stein by Jim Benton
I adore Franny! She’s a non-social, wacky scientist kid who is always messing up her science experiments or getting into some sort of trouble. This series is totally hilarious.
Ada Lace is On the Case by Emily Calandrelli with Tamson Weston, illustrated by Renee Kurilla
Mad Scientist Academy: The Dinosaur Disaster by Matthew McElligott
Unusual characters attend this school where their wacky science teacher has built an interactive, robotic dinosaur exhibit that accidentally come to life. If your kids love science, off-beat graphic novels, they’ll love this series that mixes science and technology with fantasy in a most entertaining way.
Ruins Rules the School (Goldie Blox #1) by Stacy McAnulty
Goldie’s unique school where she can be her quirky, inventor self is officially closing because she blew off the second story. Now she must attend a “high-performing” school with other kids who aren’t as out-of-the-box as Goldie. However, when she enlists her new classmates to help her reopen her old school, amazing transformations occur for both Goldie and her new friends.
Zoey and Sassafras Dragons and Marshmallows #1 by Asia Citro, illustrated by Marion Lindsay
Kids love these entertaining and well-written stories that have the coolest mix of science and magic, a diverse main character, and fantastic illustrations. Zoey, like her mom, can see magical creatures and is tasked to care for any injured creatures that might need help. In this story, she uses her science skills (including research and the scientific method) to figure out how to care for a sick baby dragon.
EngiNerds by Jarret Lerner
You got to love a book that glorifies the nerds! (At least I do!!) This book is awesome. It’s about a group of kids, one of whom secretly makes robots for each person in their group of EngiNerds. Of course, this all goes wrong making for a funny, fast-paced adventure your kids won’t be able to put down.
The Case of the Terrible T. Rex – Doyle and Fossey Science Detectives by Michele Torrey and Barbara Johansen Newman
The main character kids are scientists who, in this case, are researching mysteries using the scientific method. Is there really a werewolf? This science detective series include science experiments and information for readers at home.
Olga and the Smelly Thing From Nowhere by Elise Gravel
If you LOVE kooky books, this book fits the bill. Olga finds the most unusual, unknown creature whom she names “MEH” after the sound it makes. She uses her deductive reasoning to figure out what it is (something new!) and what it likes to eat (olives)! But what will she do when Meh disappears? Things I love about this book: 1) the illustrations — they rock! 2) the narrator’s voice — it’s believable and funny 3) the plot — especially the mean girls who aren’t so mean after all.
Science No Fair: Project Droid by Nancy Krulik and Amanda Burwasser, illustrated by Mike Moran
Imagine going to school with your so-called cousin Java who is really a robot in disguise. That’s Logan’s life. But his inventor mother insists Logan keep Java’s secret. Unfortunately, the Silverspoon twins pair up with Java for the science fair. Logan’s worried Java’s secret won’t be safe for long.
The Case of the Claymore Diamond Math Inspectors by Daniel Kenney and Emily Boever
Viva math! These friends love math and are proud of it — in fact, they’re sure they can use their math skills to solve crimes. This first mystery is about a jewelry store robbery. And they do solve it by finding clues that the police miss, freeing an innocent man. This is a delightful easy chapter book series.
The Computer Code Mystery by Justin Taylor, illustrated by Lindsay Hornsby
Celia and Anna use science, art, technology, engineering, and math (STEAM) to solve mysteries. They’re on the case when their video game is hacked.
Best STEM (STEAM) Chapter Books for Kids Ages 8 – 12
You’ll notice that I’ve indicated the major STEM themes within each story. (I’m considering inventors to be engineers if you’re wondering.)
I hope this list helps you find the best books for your kids to read next.
Elements of Genius: Nikki Tesla and the Ferret-Proof Death Ray by Jess Keating
SCIENCE, TECH, ENGINEERING, MATH
Dragon Vs. Unicorns: Kate the Chemist by Dr. Kate Biberdorf with Hillary Homzie
SCIENCE, SCIENTIFIC METHOD
Exciting from the first page (a fire breathing science experiment!!), this awesome new STEM chapter book series is hard to put down. There’s lots happening in Kate’s busy life every day but no matter if she’s dealing with science, the school play, or friends, she’s a determined problem solver. When she tries to figure out who is sabotaging the school musical, it’s going to take all her skills to find the culprit.
Emmy in the Key of Code by Aimee Lucido
REALISTIC / STEM
I loved this novel in verse so much that I’m adding it to my best books of 2019 list. It’s an exquisite book that celebrates music, STEM, making friends, and growing into yourself. Emmy’s eager to start a new school and make friends but she’s thwarted by rudeness at every turn. A daughter of professional musicians, Emmy decides to accept that even though her entire life is music and she lives for music, she’ll never be a musician herself. So for an elective, she takes computer programming instead of music. A girl in her programming class named Abigail is friendly but only during class. Which makes Emmy feel both good for that little attention but angry at being kept a secret. As Emmy’s family adjusts to San Francisco, Emmy figures out her place in the world, especially as it relates to her growing love for programming. Lucido skillfully connects music and programming in a memorable, poetic story that even non-programmers can understand.
Explorer Academy: The Nebula Secret by Trudi Trueit
The Multiplying Mysteries of Mount Ten by Krista Van Dolzer
When Esther and her stepdad accidentally arrive at math camp, not art camp, they’re forced to stay due to a major storm. Then both her roommate and stepdad go missing and she receives clues about mythological monsters, one of whom might be a murderer. Delightful.
Jack and the Geniuses at the Bottom of the World by Bill Nye and Gregory Mone
Jack and his genius siblings, Ava and Matt, are orphans who start working for a scientist-inventor named Dr. Witherspoon. The three kids accompany their inventor boss to the Arctic for a science competition where they discover that one of the researchers has gone missing. Is it because she’s made the biggest discovery of her life and another scientist is jealous? This is a fun, science-filled STEM adventure great for kids who love mysteries and technology. (And did you notice it’s co-written by Bill Nye, the Science Guy? How cool is that?)
Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab by Science Bob Pflugfleder and Steve Hockensmith
Siblings, Nick and Tesla, are shipped off to live with their mad-scientist Uncle Newt for the summer while their parents are . . . doing something with soybeans in Uzbekistan? The duo discover that something very suspicious is happening at the old mansion down the street. They get to the bottom of the mystery using inventions and doing experiments. Plus, there are directions for you to do them at home, too. You’ll love this fast-paced, pro-science STEM series.
The Friendship Code #1 Girls Who Code by Stacia Deutsch
Secret Coders: Get with the Program by Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes
What’s happening at Hopper’s new school? She and her friends discover something very amazing about the birds — they’re robotic and can be controlled by numbers. Which leads the kids to go up against the scheming, evil janitor. Readers learn some basics of how to use the programming language Logo with sequence, iteration, and selection, and must apply their knowledge to help the characters. Interactive with diverse main characters makes this a very well-done STEM graphic novel.
Brendan Buckley’s Universe and Everything In It by Sundee T. Frazier
Self-proclaimed scientist, Brendan, decides to use the scientific method to figure out what happened to his mother and grandfather’s relationship. He will discover that science can’t always figure out matters of human emotions, including prejudice.
–>See more books using the scientific method to solve problems.
The Code Busters Club Case 1 The Secret of the Skeleton Key by Penny Warner
Use your math skills and deductive reasoning along with the main characters as they write and solve codes throughout this adventurous STEM mystery story.
Spin the Golden Light Bulb by Jackie Yeager
You’ll be inspired by 11-year old inventor-hopeful, Kia, and four classmates who live in 2071 and are getting the chance to compete for a spot at the Piedmont Inventor’s Prep School. They’ll have to be creative, work as a team, and use their STEM skills in order to succeed.
The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency The Case of the Missing Moonstone by Jordan Stratford, illustrated by Kelly Murphy
I LOVE this fantastically developed historical fiction story for several reasons – the girl-centric history is really interesting (and empowering), the characters are so well-developed, and the plot is a grand adventure! The author imagines a friendship between Ada Byron, genius daughter of Lord Byron and the world’s first computer programmer, and Mary Shelley, the world’s first science-fiction author who almost could have been friends in real life but for about a decade of years. Mary joins Ada to study with Ada’s tutor and the duo form a detective agency. In this first adventure, Mary and Ada learn about another historical figure who invented hypnotism and solve the case of a stolen heirloom.
Click’d by Tamara Ireland Stone
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
Set in the late 1800s, 11-year-old Calpurnia loves to observe the natural world. Despite society’s expectations, her grumpy grandpa helps Callie explore her interest in science. This is contrasted with her mother’s push for Callie to be like other girls with cooking and sewing. Callie struggles to find her way through the confusion of her family’s expectations and her own interests.
The Number Devil by Hans Magnus Enzensberger
Robert hates math. Until he dreams about the Number Devil. In his dreams, Robert discovers the relevance of mathematics which when he awakes, he later applies at school. From square roots to Fibonacci numbers to mathematical theory, Robert dreams an amazing mathematical adventure.
Giving STEM gifts to children serves two purposes — first, these are fun gifts kids want and second, these are learning gifts, too.