I am an avid reader and love sharing this at home. We read every day and have always loved sharing this time together. Here are some of the best STEM books for kids that are all written by Australian authors. The list is somewhat ordered chronologically in book complexity and length as your child ages. They cover the range of the STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics as well as ages from newborn to just starting school.
Why I read to our kids every day
Before I had kids, I read the book “Reading Magic” by Mem Fox. It became my rationale for why I make the time to read to our kids everyday. This is a book aimed at parents to inform them with the importance of reading aloud to children. There is also a large emphasis on the fact that the sooner you start the more beneficial it is. I knew that this was important and that I wanted to do it but this book encompasses the ‘why’ and ‘how’ to do this. At first, I felt a bit silly doing this when our children were babies, but the more I tried the more it felt normal to do. Reading Magic also contains a fantastic list of books to get started with which is where I began when building up our children’s library.
14 great Australian children’s books with a STEM lesson
Top tip: Source baby books in board book format so that the pages last read-after-read until your child is a bit older and then you can progress to picture book format!
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox
A classic book by Mem fox. We love any book by Mem fox, but this one has a particular STEM approach. It introduces numbers and biology in the context of a lyrical, rhyming story. We started reading this to our kids as babies.
Grug Builds a Car by Ted Prior
The Grug books are a series of small children’s books that are easy to follow for younger readers. They contain short succinct sentences. This particular story outlines the process of building a car and all of the components and tools required. A good one for breaking down building concepts.
Shapes of Australia by Bronwyn Bancroft
This book contains different shapes of Australian landscapes and features uniquely shown in Aboriginal dot-painting style. There is minimal text but it does explain what each of the pictures are showing. A great way to introduce and speak about different shapes to younger children.
The Wheels on the Ute Go Round and Round by Loraine Harrison
An Australian take on the classic ‘the wheels on the bus’. It introduces car components to young readers as well as animals and sounds of the Australian bush. Plus you end up singing the book to your children so it engages them with song as well.
The Day We Built the Bridge by Samantha Tidy
A story about the process of building Sydney Harbour Bridge. It has beautiful sketch-like pictures with minimal text and it outlines the basic engineering design process. It goes through the steps of determining a need, designing a concept, commencing building, unexpected occurrences and final completion of a project.
Don’t Spew in your Spacesuit by Tim Miller
A fun book going through the process of launching into space to visit an alien. It has a secondary theme of vomiting but kids seem to engage with this! It involves a slightly longer story so probably for 2+ years old.
Chip the Lifeguard by Kylie Howarth
A story about a seagull who wants to become a lifeguard. It outlines the learning process and training that must be completed to undertake a rescue in a rip-tide. This book introduces the existence of ocean tides and can be a good starting point to discuss ocean safety and precautions with your kids.
Wombat Stew by Marcia K Vaughan
A longer picture book that follows a recipe of making wombat stew with different sorts of ingredients. It introduces the concept of following methods and combing things together. There is also a repeated song throughout the text and musical staff at the end of the book to show you the tune.
Room on our Rock by Kate & Jol Temple
This picture book depicts two seals on a rock. The beauty of this book is that you read it forwards and when you get to the end, you read the pages backwards and an entirely different story emerges. It teaches kids that things can be seen from different perspectives and to think outside the box. This is great for introducing higher-order thinking concepts.
The Silver Sea by Allison Lester
A slightly longer narrative story set in the ocean. It depicts lots of marine biology with all of the different animals in the sea. An imaginative story for preschoolers who love the ocean, complete with beautiful pictures.
The 13-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths
This is a book for your older preschooler. It can start the transition from picture book into chapter novel. There are lots of pictures included within the text so that your child will be engaged. It is set in a 13-storey treehouse which will engage any budding engineer or builder.
Bonus Book: Children’s Birthday Cake Book by The Australian Women’s Weekly
This is a bonus book on the list as it’s technically a cooking book. Everyone who has grown up in Australia will know of the Australian Women’s Weekly kids cake book. It is iconic! Every child has spent hours trawling over the pictures of the birthday cakes and, if you were lucky enough, you could select your cake from this cook book. I’m including it in this list as I see cooking as a valuable STEM activity to do with your children and the cakes in this book will ensure that they are engaged in this activity.
Here is a round-up of 14 books (plus 1 bonus book) with STEM concepts written by Australian Authors. What others would you add to this list? Leave a comment below to share or if you read any of these books with your kids.