Preschool is an excellent time to start introducing children to STEM. Of course, some people start even earlier with baby books.
At this age, just doing basic activities can be a useful and fun way to engage children with the basics. For example, block play (or other manipulatives) serves the dual purpose of allowing kids to learn eye-hand coordination, as well as possibly STEM skills (counting, gravity, construction). But more than that, at this age they are also learning how to explore and be creative.
Books at this age should help support that sense of exploration, imagination, and creativity. And they can help reinforce or introduce basic ideas related to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).
One note about the age-based book guides: I have attempted to categorize books by the age kids are most likely to enjoy the book. However, my experience as a parent has taught me that children enjoy and experience books in different ways at different ages. And that engagement/enjoyment varies by child, so please take a look at some of our other age-based book guides.
For some kids, they may have aged out of board books. My daughter, though, still enjoyed pulling her board books off the bookcase with some frequency through age 4 and 5. She still even does occasionally now at age 7. All of that to say, feel free to skip over this one, but I wanted to include because this and the rest of the Baby Scientist series is worth knowing about.
This book is an easy choice if you have a kid who loves dinosaurs, and even if you do not, it has some fun artwork and introduces some basics facts about paleontology (e..g, paleontologists study fossils; fossils are remnants of plants and animals that lived long ago).
I love the concept behind this book: a child who loves technology and has an overactive imagination converts a doll into a robot. Not literally, but that’s what her creativity and imagination tell her. Not only that, the book is wonderfully colorful and pulls kids and adults alike into the scene.
I appreciate that the book normalizes “tinkering”, something we have encouraged our daughter to do. So much so that she maintains an invention box that includes miscellaneous items (broken parts from toys, items earmarked for recycling, leftover screws, etc.). Charlotte, the main character, has much the same attitude.
I can also appreciate that the main character is a girl, which can help younger girl readers “see” themselves in the character. If this interests you, Rosie Revere, Engineer and Ada Twist, Scientist are two other books that my entire family enjoys.
At this age, one of the most important things that a child’s grownups can do is encourage them to dream big. Support those ideas, and engage them in learning. Dream Big, Little Scientists reminds us that our littles ones constantly thinking new ideas, including what they could be. This book presents characters from varying backgrounds, and each one dreams of a STEM field (e.g., meteorology, anthropology, botany, and physics are just a few represented), while also representing a range of scientists across history.
Rosa is a girl after my own heart. She loves STEM, and so far has been shown completing four different experiments. In this one, she studies her sunflower as it begins to grow.
Something my wife and I have found with our daughter is that once she discovers a character she likes, she wants to read more about them. For that reason, we do particularly like books that are already part of an established series. Like this one.
The other books in the series are:
- Rosa’s Big Boat Experiment
- Rosa’s Big Bridge Experiment
- Rosa’s Big Pizza Experiment
This is the exact kind of book I would have enjoyed as a kid who loved exploring the animal kingdom (anyone remember the magazine Zoobooks?). In all, this book depicts around 300 creatures in various categorical schemas (similar eyes, noses, ears, etc.). Combined with the colorful illustrations, this one is great for keeping kids engaged. Just prepare yourself for extended bedtime if your child is like mine and wants to read off every single item listed.
This board book caters more to 3-year olds (or younger) than 4-year olds (or older), but I wanted to include it because, well, I’m a sucker for space books. Or space toys for that matter.
The main character Ava pretends to be a space adventurer, and ends up on lots of adventures: rocket launches, visit the International Space Station (ISS), completing a spacewalk, and exploring the entire solar system.
Yes, another space-themed book. Already said I have a thing for them. I make no excuses. And it has flaps, and if there is one thing I have learned as a parent, it’s that kids love flaps. Or at least mine does. And my niece and nephew. So, space + flaps = win. We don’t own this specific title, but my daughter has thoroughly enjoyed Usborne’s Look Inside Space, and if she were still in this age range I would pick this one up as well.