Award-winning MG STEM Books

STEM Tuesday– Award-Winning MG STEM Titles– Writing Tips & Resources

It’s “Award-Winning STEM Titles” month on STEM Tuesday!

Check out our book list for a great place to start diving into the award winners and this post for classroom ideas. But when approaching this month’s theme from a Writing Tips & Resources angle, I came up with one thing. One thing common to all award-winning books is they’re well written. I hear you screaming, “Captain Obvious.” I understand. “Write good books” is not the most helpful thing from a writing craft advice viewpoint but that’s all I got. 

It’s also the end of the year. Another pretty tough year for many. I hope you all are well and creating the things only you can create and taking things one day at a time.

In order to fulfill my STEM Tuesday duty and not find myself sent to the doghouse, here’s an “Award-Winning STEM Titles”-themed post (I used the term “themed” lightly).

As they used to say on Monty Python, “Now for something completely different.” A comic version of how I imagine a STEM Tuesday Award Show would go.

Thanks for supporting STEM Tuesday!

Enjoy all the award-winning middle-grade book lists. Use these lists as portals to find new authors and subject matter to explore. Remember one thing about book award lists, the books on award lists are almost always well-written but not all well-written books are fortunate enough to land on an award list. 

All we are saying…is give books a chance.

Doesn’t that sound like it should be a holiday song?


Mike Hays has worked hard from a young age to be a well-rounded individual. A well-rounded, equal opportunity sports enthusiast, that is. If they keep a score, he’ll either watch it, play it, or coach it. A molecular microbiologist by day, middle-grade author, sports coach, and general good citizen by night, he blogs about sports/training-related topics at and writer stuff at  www.mikehaysbooks.comTwo of his science essays, The Science of Jurassic Park and Zombie Microbiology 101,  are included in the Putting the Science in Fiction collection from Writer’s Digest Books. He can be found roaming around the Twitter-sphere under the guise of @coachhays64 and Instagram at @mikehays64.


The O.O.L.F Files

This month’s Out Of Left Field (O.O.L.F.) Files highlight the award winners in STEM. 

  •  The Best of STEM Awards

      • There’s so much awesome to check out on this site. I’ve barely scratched the surface.
      • “An award to finally put the spotlight on the innovative products, technologies, and services that are changing the world of STEM education. The Best of STEM Awards is the only award program created for and by teachers, and the winners will be determined by specially selected STEM educator judges and by email from fellow educators.”
    • The Best of STEM Awards 2021

  • SMART Scholarship Program

      • The Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship-for-Service Program, funded by the Department of Defense (DoD), is a combined educational and workforce development opportunity for STEM students.
      • Mission: The SMART Scholarship-for-Service Program enhances the DoD civilian workforce with innovative scientists, engineers and researchers across the United States.
      • Vision: SMART creates a highly skilled DoD STEM workforce that competes with the dynamic trends in technology and innovation to protect national security.
  • Finding the right book to read.


STEM Tuesday– Award-Winning MG STEM Titles– In the Classroom

This month, we’re looking at award winning books. I decided to look at the best STEM books I read this year. Turns out, they were all award winners in one way or another.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgBOMB: The Race to Build – and Steal – The World’s Most Dangerous Weapon
by Steve Sheinkin (2012)

This is a nonfiction book that reads more like a novel. It was the recipient of numerous awards, including a Newbery Honor and the Robert F. Sibert Award.


Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgThe Superpower Field Guide: Beavers
by Rachel Poliquin (2018)

This is a superfun look at all things beavers. It was a Junior Library Guild selection and ALA Notable Book.


Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgThe Wisdom of Trees
by Lita Judge (2021)

The main text is written in poetry. Additional text on each page provides tons of amazing information about trees. Although presented as a picture book, it’s great for older readers. It’s on the New York Public Library’s Best Books of 2021.


Here are some ideas for working with award-winning books.

Check Out The Awards Lists

Look through awards lists and pick out a few books to read. There are lots of them. Here are a few that often highlight STEM books. (This is a big reason why my to-read list only ever seems to grow.)

NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Books –
AAAS/Subaru Prize for Excellence in Science Books –
Green Earth Book Award –
Mathical Book Prize –
(Robert F.) Sibert Medal – for informational books –
Bank Street Best of the Year –

Create Your Own Awards

Some of my favorite books were not award winners. Celebrate your own favorites by creating your own awards. These awards could be fun – Book Most Likely to Keep You Up At Night – or serious – Best STEM Book. You could try to pick one big award winner like the Newbery, or put together an award-winning list like the Bank Street book list.

Come up with the qualities that your award-winning books should have. If you have categories, determine what qualifies books to go in them.

Have everyone submit their pick for the award(s). Have them give a persuasive speech as to why their book should be the winner. Act like a jury or vote as in an election to determine the winners.

Weigh In On the Kids’ Book Choice Awards

Voting has already closed for this year, but be sure to check out the Kids’ Book Choice Awards starting in August. Here’s the link:

Janet Slingerland has written more than 20 nonfiction books for children, including the award-winning The Secret Lives of Plants! (Pennsylvania School Librarians Association Top 40 in 2013). For more information about Janet, check out her website at

STEM Tuesday– Award-Winning MG STEM Titles–Book List



Hurrah, it is time to celebrate all the recent award winning middle grade STEM titles! These books are the best of the best, the cream of the crop, the cherry on top of the sundae. You’ll surely want to add them to your reading list. Drumroll…

NSTA 2020 Outstanding Trade Books

Beyond Words: What Elephants and Whales Think and Feel by Carl Safina

Readers will follow researcher Carl Safina as he tracks elephants and monitors whales. A wonderful young edition of the bestselling adult title. 

Dreaming in Code: Ada Byron Lovelace Computer Pioneer by Emily Arnold McCully

If you’ve enjoyed the many picture books on this STEM pioneer, it’s time to step into her deeper story in this middle grade book. 

The Electric War: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse and the Race to Light the World by Mike Winchell

Readers will find the competition to be the first to light the world inspiring.

Poison Eaters: Fighting Danger and Fraud in our Food and Drugs by Gail Jarrow

This many starred title introduces readers to the creation of the Food and Drug Administration. 

The Woolly Monkey Mysteries: The Quest to Save a Rain Forest Species by Sandra Markle

Sandra Markle captures a conservation recovery team’s efforts to save a rainforest animal in her latest book. 

Undaunted: The Wild Life of Birute’ Mary Galdikas and Her Fearless Quest to Save Orangutans by Anita Silvey 

This book follows two previous award winning biographies by Anita Silvey. You’ll want to read all three! 

Best STEM Books, NSTA   

Save the Crash Test Dummies: An Action-Packed Journey Through the History of Car Safety Engineering by Jennifer Swanson

Readers will dive in to the history of car production and the science behind car safety measures. 

Saving the Tasmanian Devil: How Science is Helping the World’s Largest Marsupial Carnivore Survive by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent

Step out of the cartoons for this latest book in the popular Scientists in the Field series that explores the recovery of this iconic species. 

AAAS/Subaru Prize Winners   

Can You Hear the Trees Talking? Discovering the Hidden Life of the Forest by Peter Wohlleben

Based on the NY Times bestseller The Hidden Life of Trees, this young edition is filled with facts, simple activities, photos, and more to engage readers in forest ecosystems. 

Green Earth Book Award Winners 2021

One Earth: People of Color Protecting the Planet by Anuradha Rao

Discover extraordinary stories of environmental activists in this award winning title. 

Condor Comeback by Sy Montgomery, photographs by Tianne Strombeck

The story of the recovery of California condors is a great edition to the Scientists in the Field series.  

Kids vs. Plastics: Ditch the straw and find the pollution solution to bottles, bags, and other single-use plastics by Julie Beer

Plastic fills our lives. This title is filled with shocking stats and surprising facts. Find out how to reduce plastic use and create a more plastic-free future. 

Mathical Book Prize

How we got to the Moon: The People, Technology, and Daring Feats of Science Behind Humanity’s Greatest Adventure by John Rocco

Beautifully illustrated, this took serves as a guide to the people and technology behind the moon landing. 

Grasping Mysteries: Girls Who Loved Math by Jeannine Atkins

Jeannine Atkins works her magic on this collective biography, novel-in-verse of several STEM pioneers who began their life as girls who loved math. 

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Nancy Castaldo has written books about our planet for over 20 years. Her titles have earned numerous honors, including the Green Earth Book Award, Junior Library Guild Selection, NSTA Outstanding Trade Book, Eureka Nonfiction honors. Nancy’s research has taken her all over the world from the Galapagos to Russia.  She strives to inform, inspire, and empower her readers. She is a certified National Geographic Educator.

Watch for her upcoming books, including WHEN THE WORLD RUNS DRY and THE WOLVES AND MOOSE OF ISLE ROYALE, a Scientist in the Field title, in 2022. Visit her at 

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Sibert Honor author Patricia Newman shows young readers how their actions can ripple around the world. Using social and environmental injustice as inspiration, she empowers young readers to seek connections to the real world and to use their imaginations to act on behalf of their communities. One Texas librarian wrote, “Patricia is one of THE BEST nonfiction authors writing for our students in today’s market, and one of our MUST HAVE AUTHORS for every collection.”

Titles include: Planet Ocean (new); Sibert Honor book Sea Otter Heroes; Green Earth Book Award winner Plastic, Ahoy!; The NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book Eavesdropping on Elephants; California Reading Association’s Eureka! Gold winner Zoo Scientists to the Rescue. Visit Patricia online at her website, on Twitter, on Facebook, and on Pinterest.