Hello STEM Tuesday enthusiasts!
Can you believe we’ve been doing this blog for TWO YEARS now? YAY! We are all so excited to have this opportunity to highlight the BEST in STEM/STEAM titles for middle grade and YA books.
What better way to celebrate our blog than to have an interview with the awesome librarian who inspired me to start this whole blog in the first place, Betsy Bird.
Elizabeth (Betsy) Bird is a children’s librarian at the Evanston Public Library in Illinois. In 2006 she started A Fuse #8 Production, which was picked up by School Library Journal in 2008, where it is housed today. She currently reviews for The New York Times, Kirkus, as well as on her own blog. She has also written articles for School Library Journal and Horn Book Magazine. Along with her sister, Kate, they run a weekly podcast about books. You can listen to it on Soundcloud.
The story goes, Betsy wrote a post in her Fuse 8 blog in 2016 which gave suggestions for how to build a “perfect nonfiction blog”. Here is the link. After reading it, I was like – YES! This is what I want to create for STEM/STEAM books… and STEM Tuesday was born.
To celebrate our wonderful two years, I asked Betsy a few questions about STEM/STEAM books and nonfiction:
What do you look for in a great STEM/STEAM book?
The first thing I ask is — Is it fun? Books about STEM/STEAM should be FUN for readers. Topic is also important. It must be interesting and intriguing. The best way for this is for the writer to use a unique approach to the topic. The writing should show the passion of the author for the subject, ie. be engaging and exciting to draw the reader in. Design is also key. I look at books to see if they have too many words, or if the book has a fun approach to illustrations. Above all, the book must be accurate! That means no fake dialogue and a works cited section so that readers can look up the sources used.
One of my favorite books is The Boy Who Loved Math by Deborah Heiligman which has no fake dialogue but is great and such a compelling read.
What types of STEM/STEAM books do you see your readers looking for?
Librarians typically prefer narrative books, but I see a lot of young readers who prefer expository STEM/STEAM books. They seem to gravitate towards the facts and trivia in these type of books. Kids love to learn something new and then repeat the facts to their friends.
Any topics for STEM/STEAM books that you don’t see but wish were out there?
Absolutely. It may seem strange, but I would love a book on Mexican wrestlers. Math books are also greatly in need! It can be a nonfiction book about math, or even a fiction book with a normal kid who likes math. More STEM/STEAM picture books for the really young. But pretty much any new STEM/STEAM book that fits into the category of what I look for above is welcome.
Any STEM/STEAM activities that you do with your patrons?
I am not involved in the programming of these activities, but here at the Evanston Library we do have a Summer STEM camp that is partnered with the local school district. The idea is to focus on robotics and coding to focus on encouraging girls and students of all backgrounds to get interested in STEM classes and possibly careers for the future.
Finally, can you name three of your favorite STEM/STEAM books?
Wait, Rest, Pause by Marcie Flinchum Atkins (Millbrook Press)
The text in this book is great for both lower and upper readers. It’s just tons of fun!
Creepy and True: Mummies Exposed by Kerrie Logan Hollihan (Abrams BFYR)
Every mummy you ever wanted in one complete, mildly horrific, place!
Follow Your Stuff: Who Makes It, Where Does It Come From, How Does It Get to You? by Kevin Sylvester (Annick Press)
It examines five different things you have with you and breaks down where it came from, how much it cost to make, etc. Really great stuff here!
Thanks so much for joining us today, Betsy. STEM Tuesday is thrilled to have you. Look for Betsy in her new podcast about picture books coming soon! And don’t forget to check out her book The Great Santa Stake Out illustrated by Dan Santat
BUT WAIT, THERE’s MORE!
Don’t forget about our 2nd annual CoSTEM Contest! There is still time to enter! As a reminder, here are the details:
- This contest is open to all school-aged students, ages 5 and up.
- Submit a jpeg of yourself or your class dressed as your favorite STEM book.
- Be sure to let us know the title and the author of the book.
- The book must be for readers ages 8 and up.
- All submissions are due by midnight EST November 8th, 2019. (no exceptions!)
- Submissions MUST come from an adult who will grants us permission to post this image on the Mixed Up Files website.
- All images will be judged by the STEM Tuesday team. We will be looking for creativity, subject (how close you are to the theme of the book), and authentic (how exact is the STEM theme displayed)
- Winners will be posted on the STEM Tuesday blog on November 14th, 2019.
- Send your images to the following email: firstname.lastname@example.org
1st Place — Receives 5 autographed STEM Books + $25 Barnes & Noble Gift card
2nd Place — Receives 3 autographed STEM Books + $15 Barnes & Noble Gift card
3rd Place— Receives 2 autographed STEM Books +$10 Barnes & Noble Gift card
Pick out your book and pull together your costume now. We can’t wait to see all your entries. Thanks for celebrating TWO WHOLE YEARS of STEM Tuesday posts with us. GO STEM!
Jennifer Swanson is the creator and administrator of STEM Tuesday. She dreams of one day running away to the Museum of Science and Industry- then maybe she could look at all the exhibits and try out all the gadgets without competing for them with her kids. An author of thirty-five nonfiction science books for kids, Jennifer’s goal is to show kids that Science Rocks! She lives in sunny Florida with her husband, three kids and two dogs. When not writing she’s on the hunt for fun science facts.