Sharing Science Through Picture Books

As a scientist, a parent, and a person with a deep appreciation for the arts, I think there may be no better place for science and the arts to meet than on the pages of children’s picture books.

Through illustration, prose and poetry, picture books have the power to transport children and adult readers alike to other worlds, to introduce them to people who have changed the world, to inspire curiosity and imagination.

In celebration of the 2017 North Carolina Science Festival theme of art and design, we’ve curated a list of science-themed picture books. In preparing this list, we sought recommendations from scientists, librarians, educators and parents. We tried to be mindful of the various research fields represented within the College of Sciences as well as our core values of diversity and inclusion.

Picture books – also known as read alouds – are intended to be shared. Our scientists and students will be reading some of these titles to children attending the State of the Sciences: Live! at the Library on Friday, April 21. We hope you’ll be inspired to share these books with the young people in your life, and perhaps suggest some of your favorite titles that we may have missed in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Ada’s Ideas: The Story of Ada Lovelace, the World’s First Computer Programmer

Fiona Robinson
Spectacular mixed-media collage helps recount the story of the woman responsible for the foundations of modern-day computing.

Ada Twist, Scientist

Andrea Beaty & David Roberts
Guided by curiosity and the scientific method, young girl searches for the source of a stink and inspires her family along the way.

Bean Thirteen

Matthew McElligott
A funny story about beans that may secretly be about math.

11 Experiments that Failed

Jenny Offill & Nancy Carpenter
Young scientist conducts 11 misguided experiments with terrible, hilarious consequences.

Giant Squid

Candace Fleming & Eric Rohmann
With dark and rich illustrations, this lyrical study of Earth’s most mysterious creature is equal parts suspenseful and informative.

Grandmother Fish

Jonathan Tweet & Karen Lewis
A call-and-response tale walking readers through our evolutionary family tree.

How Much Is a Million?

David M. Schwartz & Steven Kellogg
Mathematical magician knocks complex numbers down to size.

If I Built a Car

Chris Van Dusen
Boy shows off awesome car he built, complete with special features.

Interstellar Cinderella

Deborah Underwood & Meg Hunt
An out-of-this-world retelling of the classic fairy tale, where Cinderella sets her sights on sonic ships and socket wrenches.

Me… Jane

Patrick McDonnell
Young Jane Goodall and her special childhood toy chimpanzee Jubillee take in the world with a sense of wonder.

The Most Magnificent Thing

Ashley Spires
Young girl struggles through process of creation and failure as she attempts to make the most magnificent thing.

Older than Stars

Karen Fox & Nancy Davis
A story of the Big Bang in lively verse that explains how we all contain a bit of star stuff.

Olinguito, de la A a la Z!/Olinguito, from A to Z!

Lulu Delacre
Bilingual adventure exploring the flora and fauna of the Ecuadorean Andes while searching for an elusive mammal.

On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein

Jennifer Berne & Vladimir Radunsky
A charming, inspiring biography of the famous physicist emphasizing curiosity and discovery.

Our Earth

Anne Rockwell
A simply illustrated picture book that helps kids explore the geology and geography of our planet.

Rosie Revere, Engineer

Andrea Beaty & David Roberts
Young engineer dares to be different, and gets advice from a special mentor.

Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos

Stephanie Roth Sisson
The story of the curious boy who never stopped wondering and went on to inspire millions to contemplate the universe.

Summer Birds: The Butterflies of Maria Merian

Margarita Engle & Julie Paschkis
Young girl in the Middle Ages takes time to observe and learn, and becomes the first person to document the process of metamorphosis.

Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes

Nicola Davies & Emily Sutton
All around the world, tiny invisible creatures are busy doing important things.

What Will the Weather Be?

Lynda DeWitt & Carolyn Croll
A fun, engaging introduction to meteorology.

A special thank you to Marla Gregg from the College of Sciences Advancement Office and Gwen Glazer from the New York Public Library for their assistance in creating this list.