STEM Tuesday– Architecture– Book List

Architecture is the art and science of designing buildings, from skyscrapers to houses, cathedrals to factories, theme parks to museums. Architecture brings together art, math, physics, and engineering, plus an understanding of how people interact with designed spaces.

How Was That Built?: The Stories Behind Awesome Structures by Roma Agrawal

Author Roma Agrawal is a structural engineer. She has designed bridges and skyscrapers, and spent six years working on The Shard (the tallest building in Western Europe). In her book, she shows how engineers and architects approached a variety of challenges, from building a dome to building underground, on ice, even in space.

Buildings that Breathe, Greening the World’s Cities by Nancy Castaldo

Can a skyscraper be a forest? That’s the question architect Stefano Boeri asked when he integrated trees into his design for the Bosco Verticale in Milan, Italy. Readers will learn about the inspiration for his vertical tree towers, engineering the design, creating a team that includes arborists, and thinking about skyscrapers as forest habitat. It ends with how to make a difference in your city.

Discovering Architecture by Eduard Altarriba & Berta Bardí I Milà

An engaging examination of the architecture of buildings around the world, from the pyramids to architecture of the future (green growth, sustainable buildings, & perhaps even life on Mars), famous architects, and the role of architecture in our daily lives. Awesome cut-aways, illustrations, and floor plans combine with history, math, and practical examples to make architecture fun.

Wild Buildings and Bridges: Architecture Inspired by Nature by Etta Kaner, illustrated by Carl Wiens

Many architects look to nature to help solve building challenges and inspire design. Readers will see how cacti and desert canyons inspired cooling features, and water lilies inspired a floating house. Sidebars highlight architects and there are a few activities included.

The Story of Buildings: From the Pyramids to the Sydney Opera House and Beyond by Patrick Dillon, illustrated by Stephen Biesty

This book looks at the diversity of buildings as well as materials used. Visit the Parthenon, examples of Roman architecture, and Notre Dame. Tour the Forbidden City, and compare Renaissance buildings with modern styles. The tour ends with a close look at a straw bale house incorporating environmental design for heating and cooling.

Atlas of Amazing Architecture: The Most Incredible Buildings You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of by Peter Allen

Buildings have amazing stories, and this book introduces 30 lesser known buildings around the world. They range from neolithic monuments to airports, temples to pyramids, palaces to hideaways. A great way to tour architectural diversity.

Ancient Wonders – Then & Now by Lonely Planet Kids, Stuart Hill, illustrated by Lindsey Spinks

Gatefolds and flaps offer a fun interactive look at architectural marvels throughout the world, including Easter Island, Angkor Wat, and Petra as well as sites in Rome, England, Greece, and Egypt. Explaining the construction, usage, and current condition.

Great Building Designs: 1900 to Today by Ian Graham

Stunning photos of 12 famous buildings around the world and the architects who built them. Side bars define design elements, statistics, history, and the buildings’ interactions with the environment. It includes a challenge to design a building, timeline, glossary, and further ideas for research.


Maya Lin: Thinking with Her Hands by Susan Goldman Rubin

Maya Lin won the design competition for the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial when she was a college student. She uses stone and water to design her monuments as well as other buildings: a museum, library, chapel, house. Lin’s designs take into account how people interact with the space.

Immigrant Architect: Rafael Guastavino and the American Dream by Berta de Miguel, Kent Diebolt, and Virginia Lorente, illustrated by Virginia Lorente. (Picture Book)

Historical fiction told in a wonderful conversational voice from the perspective of architect Rafael Gustavino Moreno’s son, Rafael Gustavino Expósito, about their experiences immigrating from Spain, patenting of the “Gustavino tile vaulting system,” hard work, and ultimate creation of over a thousand buildings in the U.S., including Grand Central Station in N.Y, the Boston Public Library, the ceiling at Ellis Island, and a “ghost” subway station (that can still be seen).


Architecture for Kids: Skill-Building Activities for Future Architects by Mark Moreno and Siena Moreno

The first part of the book is an introduction to architecture, presenting information about foundations, structure, site plans, elevations – even climate and landscape considerations. There’s an activity on each page, and each chapter ends with a challenge. Part two is all about designing your dreams, with prompts for everything from a tiny house to clothing. Lots of fun and all you need is a pencil.

Adventures in Architecture for Kids: 30 Design Projects for STEAM Discovery and Learning by Vicky Chan

Awesome hands-on activities using cardboard, vegetables, and other common household items guide kids through general construction, historic architecture (using or combatting nature), landscape architecture (tree houses and zoos), sustainable architecture, and city planning. It provides materials lists and notes for adults (outlining physical and mental challenges) for each project, a glossary, and templates.

This month’s STEM Tuesday book list was prepared by:

Sue Heavenrich examines fungi

Sue Heavenrich, who writes about science for children and their families on topics ranging from space to backyard ecology. Bees, flies, squirrel behavior—things she observes in her neighborhood and around her home—inspire her writing. Her most recent book is Funky Fungi (with Alisha Gabriel). Visit her at

Maria Marshall, a children’s author, blogger, and poet who is passionate about making nature and reading fun for children. When not writing, critiquing, or reading, she watches birds, travels the world, bakes, and hikes. Visit her at

STEM Tuesday– Math– Writing Tips and Resources


Paradigm Shift

Did you see it? The National Council of Teachers of English recently issued the “Position Statement on the Role of Nonfiction Literature (K–12).” I’ll be honest and say that when I was growing up, I never thought of nonfiction as literature. To me, nonfiction was an encyclopedia, a text book, or one of those really dry library books that you checked out when you had to do a report on a cheetah. Sure the cheetah was cool, but the book about it? I had to crawl my way through all of the dusty dry to find the fascinating facts.

Look how far we have come… This month we are looking at the literary craft of not just nonfiction, but math nonfiction! And that’s because the world of publishing has opened their arms to cool, crafty, creative presentations of information. And I for one am giddy over it. In fact, NCTE, this group of professional English teachers is proposing “a paradigm shift for teaching and learning with nonfiction literature in K–12 education.”

Drop the mic! Nonfiction is coming into its own!

So, how exactly do we spur on this paradigm shift? We can start by studying the craft of informational books. We can articulate new language to help us describe unique attributes of nonfiction. We can search out the devices used by nonfiction authors. We can compare/contrast, discuss/evaluate, and weigh the pros and cons. In other words, we can have informed opinions.

One Way to Start

Melissa Stewart (author of over 100 nonfiction books for children) and Dr. Marlene Correia (an educator of 30 years) have written a book entitled 5 Kinds of Nonfiction: Enriching Reading and writing Instruction with Children’s Books. Check out this article ( in the School Library Journal and Melissa’s blog post (  They propose that much of today’s nonfiction can be categorized as one of the following:

  • Active – books that get kids doing something, i.e, Klutz Books for Kids
  • Browseable – open to any page and find chunks of facts, i.e., Nat Geo Weird But True World
  • Traditional – provide a broad survey of a topic, i.e. Rattlesnakes
  • Narrative – provide a narrative arc, i.e.  Radiant Child The Story of Young Artists Jean-Michel Basquiat
  • Expository Literature – non-narrative books that present a narrow topic in a creative or unique way, i.e. Summertime Sleepers: Animals that Estivate!

To become more comfortable with this idea, open a math book and check out a spread. Which category might each fit into? Try these:


The Kitchen Pantry Scientist Math for Kids: Fun Math Games and Activities Inspired by Awesome Mathematicians, Past and Present; with 20+ Illustrated, by Rebecca Rapoport and Allanna Chung.




Just a Second, by Steve Jenkins






Dollars & Sense: A Kid’s Guide to Using–Not Losing, written by Elaine Scott, illustrated by David Clark.





Sir Cumference and the First Round Table , written by Cindy Neuschwander, illustrated by Wayne Geehan (you’re right, this one is not nonfiction!)




Just as all novels books do not fit neatly into one genre, nonfiction books don’t all fit neatly into these categories, but I bet you know a reader who LOVES one of these categories. What if we recommended books to readers based on this? What if we encouraged all readers to sample books from all of these categories?

This is a powerful new way to understand and nudge forward this paradigm shift for teaching and learning nonfiction!


Prepared by:


Heather L. Montgomery, author of 17 nonfiction books for kids.

Cover Reveal: Space Care

cover art shows an astronaut in full gear against a dark background with title in neon lettering


MUF cover reveal logo with critter and text saying "cover reveal"I am so excited to share the newest cover reveal for an awesome new space book by our own Mixed-Up Files Jennifer Swanson’s SPACE CARE: A Kid’s Guide to Surviving Space

Drum roll……….. here it is!

Cover Reveal

cover art shows an astronaut in full gear against a dark background with title in neon lettering

Publisher: Mayo Clinic Press Kids
Publish Date: July 18, 2023

About Space Care:

Have you ever wondered how astronauts stay healthy in space? What if an astronaut gets sick on the space station? Does snot run in space? This fascinating photo-illustrated look at space and medicine explores how scientists and physicians study astronauts in space, how they help keep them safe, and what we’ve learned about the human body through space exploration. Questions from real kids and answers form from astronauts, along with photos from NASA, combine for an out-of-this-world exploration of health.

I’m so excited we got a chance to talk to Jen about her newest fabulous middle grade non fiction book.

Interview with Jen Swanson

HMC: Congratulations, Jennifer! Your book is one of a new group of  kid’s books being released by Mayo Clinic Press this year. How did you feel about writing this topic for them? 

JS: Space medicine? YES, please. At one time in my life, I wanted more than anything to be an
organ-transplant surgeon and an astronaut. Not that those two careers necessarily go together, but
maybe someday. 😊
In any case, I was thrilled to be asked to write this book for Mayo Clinic Press Kids. Not only do
I love space but I also live very close to the Mayo Clinic here in Jacksonville and often ride my
bike past it. It was the perfect book for me to do.

HMC: Can you share some cool details about what’s inside?

JS: This book is chock full of details about what humans go through while living in microgravity. There are facts about how astronauts sleep, what they eat, and yes, even a picture of the bathroom on the ISS. There is information about the garden where fruit and vegetables are grown in space and even a section about some of the cool medical research being done in microgravity. (Did you know that astronauts have to draw their own blood sometimes?)
The awesome photos give readers an up-close view of life on the ISS and even make them feel a little bit like they are their themselves.

HMC: What was the most exciting thing about writing this book?

JS: I got to zoom with Astronaut Megan McArthur! That was just so fun. Megan is fantastic and really smart. She wrote the foreward for the book, and gives the reader a great inside story of what it’s like to live in space. And yes, all of those answers in the book are from her. She and I chatted about them during our zoom session.

HMC: Will there be more books about space from you?

JS: Definitely! I’m working on a book right now called WHO OWNS THE MOON, that I’m co-writing with Cynthia Levinson for Margaret Quinlan Books. It is takes a much broader look at NASA’s Artemis missions and asks the question we are all wondering—how will different countries (and commercial companies) live and work together on the Moon? Packed with cool technology, discussions on space debris, governance, and more, this book will be a great resource for kids who want to learn as much as they can about space. It will publish in early 2025.

HMC: Where can everyone learn more about you and your other books about STEM?

JS: You can find information about me, my books, and tons of STEM resources including free teacher guides, videos for students, and learn about my podcast, Solve It! for Kids at my website: