Sometimes science picture books are the perfect tool for sparking kids’ interest. I spent a lot of time researching a list that loosely matches early elementary curriculum standards. The list leans toward new books as much as I could, but also includes classics. There are still some holes, but I think you’re bound to find something you love.
We definitely found some new favorites here. I checked out a huge stack of these from the library. My fourth grader eagerly read Twenty One Elephants and also enjoyed Mesmerized. The twins, who’re now in first grade, looked through most of the stack. Juna’s Jar and Little Red Bat both captured their imaginations. Read on for the full list with brief summaries.
20+ Inspiring Picture Books About Science
Little kids are natural scientists. Curiosity is wired in, and they love to test, test, test. We only need to feed them a little bit of new information to spark their imagination. These books should help you do that.
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Picture Books for Teaching Scientific Investigation and Reasoning
Aesop’s The Crow and The Pitcher takes the classic fable and turns it into an engaging lesson on the scientific method.
Juna’s Jar is about a little girl who collects small living things, such as a bean plant and a cricket, and observes them. Then she dreams about fanciful adventures with what she’s collected. The story has social-emotional layers as well. As a STEM book, it could open a discussion about observation versus hypothesis and imagination.
A Mighty Fine Time Machine offers a fun, indirect way of teaching children how scientists make a new hypothesis when an experiment fails. If you’re a book-lover, you’ll love the ending, too.
Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery that Baffled All of France – a detailed picture book for elementary aged kids, this true story explicitly weaves in how Franklin used the scientific method to disprove false claims.
Picture Books about Physical Science
Newton and Me, as you might guess by the title, is a story about force and motion. Told in simple rhyme, a boy plays with his dog and points out how Newton’s laws affect them.
Roller Coaster is a lighthearted, tension-filled, simple story about a roller coaster ride. As such, it’s also an entry into a discussion about potential and kinetic energy, force, and motion.
Science Picture Books about Earth and Space
Max Goes to the Moon is the first in my favorite based-on-reality science fiction picture book series. In this one, Max the dog and his human friend get to go to the moon. As a bonus, the nonfiction sidebars are perfect for older readers.
Water is Water is more poetry than narrative, yet just as compelling. It describes all the different forms that water can take, from rain and fog to puddles and apple cider.
In a similar vein, A Rock Can Be… shows preschool aged readers various rocks they may encounter both in daily life and perhaps only in books. Examples include fossils, rocks for skipping into a lake, sculptures, bookends, and mosaics.
Rhoda’s Rock Hunt would be an entertaining introduction to the concept of comparing and sorting rocks. The story is about a girl who collects a heavy backpack full of rocks and has to leave some behind.
Science Picture Books about Organisms and Environments
The Busy Tree tells, with rhyme and lifelike illustration, about all the life that a tree supports.
Have You Seen Elephant? is a notable new book about a boy playing hide and seek with an elephant. It’d be a fun way to open a lesson on animal camouflage.
Daisy Plays Hide-and-Seek is about a cow who magically changes colors to match her environment, like a chameleon.
Little Red Bat follows a young bat as she decides whether or not to migrate for the winter. It’s told as a narrative with dialogue and will draw kids into a lesson on migration, hibernation, and dormancy. The Grasshopper and the Ants might also be a good choice for this topic.
How to Survive as a Shark is a highly engaging mostly nonfiction book that reads like fiction – with lots of interesting details about sharks.
The King of Bees is a beautifully illustrated story about a boy who tries out beekeeping and learns about bees and their role in the environment.
Picture Books about Engineering
Twenty-One Elephants is based on the historical fact that P.T. Barnum paraded 21 circus elephants across the newly-built Brooklyn Bridge in 1884, in order to prove its strength.
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel is a classic, and one of my family’s favorites.
Andrew Henry’s Meadow, another classic, is more imagination than engineering, but it’s definitely inspiring to little engineers.
Finally, don’t miss Rosie Revere, Engineer – perfect for talking about growth mindset as well as engineering. We LOVE this video of astronaut Kate Rubins reading it from space.
Whew! I had so much fun finding all these science picture books. I tried to think outside the box for you a little. I’m sure there are more great titles out there – I’d love to hear about your favorites.