STEM/STEAM Reads

Foster creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills among middle grade readers with this curated collection. Grouped around the subjects of science, technology, engineering, arts, and math, these titles support a STEM/STEAM middle-school curriculum — an integrated approach to education that strives to better prepare students for thriving in the real world.

Publication year 1962Genre Novel, FictionTags Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction, Children's Literature

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle is a science fiction novel for young readers, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 1962. The book follows Margaret “Meg” Murry, her brilliant younger brother Charles Murry, and Calvin O’Keefe on a journey across the universe to rescue Meg’s father from the clutches of a malignant presence. The novel won several children’s book awards, including the Newbery Medal (1963), the Sequoyah Book Award, and the Lewis Carroll... Read A Wrinkle In Time Summary


Publication year 1996Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Beauty, Natural World: Environment, Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Realistic Fiction, Action / Adventure, Animals, Children's Literature

Brian’s Winter (1996), a young adult novel by Gary Paulsen, is the third book in the Hatchet series of survival stories. Brian’s Winter chronologically follows Hatchet, acting as an alternate ending to Hatchet in which Brian is not rescued, and must continue to survive in the woods through the winter. Paulsen uses his own firsthand knowledge of winter survival skills to create a vivid and realistic portrayal of winter in the Canadian woods.This guide refers... Read Brian's Winter Summary


Publication year 1980Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Natural World: Space & The Universe, Natural World: Environment, Natural World: Place, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Hope, Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Society: Education, Society: Globalization, Society: WarTags Science / Nature, History: World, Philosophy

Publication year 2013Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Gender, Identity: DisabilityTags Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature, Disability

Counting by 7s is Holly Goldberg Sloan's first middle-grade novel, published in 2013. A New York Times bestseller, this contemporary story draws upon themes relevant to Sloan's own life. The novel is set in present-day Bakersfield, California, which Sloan says is “emblematic of the characters,” in the sense that it is “often overlooked.”Plot SummaryThe novel's protagonist is 12-year-old Willow Chance, a “highly gifted” girl fascinated by the number seven, plants, and medicine. She knows she... Read Counting by 7s Summary


Publication year 1957Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Natural World: Space & The Universe, Values/Ideas: Science & TechnologyTags Science / Nature, Gender / Feminism, Politics / Government, Social Justice, Women's Studies (Nonfiction)

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Publication year 2005Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Good & EvilTags Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature

Teenage Noah Underwood finds himself facing the unpleasant task of visiting his dad in jail on Father’s Day. Paine Underwood has just sunk a casino boat called the Coral Queen because its owner, Dusty Muleman, has been dumping waste from the casino’s toilets into the bay and poisoning the surrounding waters. Paine is an environmental activist who sometimes gets carried away, as his long-suffering wife Donna can attest.Since Paine hasn’t been able to prove Dusty’s... Read Flush Summary


Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Race, Identity: Gender, Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Historical Fiction

Winner of the APALA Literature Award, Marilyn C. Hilton’s Full Cicada Moon (2015) is a historical novel-in-verse that examines themes of racism and gender norms in 1969 New England. Composed of poems, the novel delves into the experiences of Mimi, a middle-school student of African American and Japanese descent who initially struggles with her identity but eventually learns to feel confident in herself. This study guide references the 2017 Puffin Books Reprint Edition, an imprint... Read Full Cicada Moon Summary


Publication year 2015Genre Novel, FictionThemes Natural World: Environment, Relationships: Friendship, Society: Community, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Natural World: Food, Natural World: Animals, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Society: Education, Society: Globalization, Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Self Discovery, Life/Time: The Future, Society: Politics & Government, Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Values/Ideas: Order & Chaos, Values/Ideas: Safety & DangerTags Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction, Action / Adventure, Horror / Thriller / Suspense Fiction, Survival Fiction, Natural Disaster, Science / Nature

In Newbery medalist Louis Sachar’s sci-fi thriller Fuzzy Mud (2015), Tamaya and Marshall cut through the restricted woods behind their school to avoid a bully—but encounter a strange mud that has the potential to destroy nearly all life on Earth. While Marshall struggles with the emotional effects of being bullied, Tamaya develops an unusually aggressive rash from the mud and worries that in protecting Marshall she has gravely injured Chad. Each character faces difficult ethical... Read Fuzzy Mud Summary


Publication year 2017Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Identity: Language, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Identity: Gender, Identity: Mental Health, Self Discovery, Society: Community, Society: Education, Natural World: Nurture v. NatureTags Science / Nature, Psychology, Health / Medicine, Self Help

Publication year 1971Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Natural World: Environment, Natural World: Animals, Natural World: Nurture v. Nature, Natural World: Place, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: ForgivenessTags Science / Nature, Animals, Anthropology

Published in 1971, In the Shadow of Man is the third and most famous book by British primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall. The work details Goodall’s groundbreaking study of chimpanzees in Tanzania’s Gombe Stream National Park and her unlikely journey from being a secretary in the UK to heading a major chimpanzee study in East Africa and becoming one of the world’s foremost primatology experts. Functioning as both a memoir and a scientific exploration of chimp... Read In the Shadow of Man Summary


Publication year 1997Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Natural World: Environment, Natural World: Animals, Natural World: Food, Natural World: Place, Society: Politics & Government, Society: Economics, Society: Education, Society: War, Society: NationTags Science / Nature, Health / Medicine, Politics / Government, Social Justice

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Publication year 2009Genre Novel, FictionTags Children's Literature, Realistic Fiction

Carl Hiaasen’s Scat! is a young adult thriller with a comic tone and an environmental message. Nick Waters and his best friend, Marta Gonzalez, are students at the private Truman School in Naples, Florida. When their biology teacher, Mrs. Bunny Starch, disappears, the two students are drawn into a conflict between a ruthless oil company and an informal band of environmentalists bent on protecting the breeding grounds of an endangered Florida panther and her cub. The... Read Scat Summary


Publication year 2017Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Chinese Literature, Asian Literature, Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature

See You in the Cosmos, a 2017 middle-grade contemporary novel by Jack Cheng, features 11-year-old Alex Petroski as its main character and narrator. Inspired by scientist Carl Sagan, Alex wants to use a hand-built rocket to send audio recordings about life on Earth to extraterrestrial creatures. Though his quest to communicate with alien life fails, Alex finds himself on a much larger journey toward self-identity and truth. The novel is a Golden Kite Award Winner... Read See You in the Cosmos Summary


Publication year 2015Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Loyalty & BetrayalTags Historical Fiction

Published in 2015, The Blackthorn Key is a children’s historical fantasy novel by Kevin Sands. Set in 17th-century London, the story follows Christopher Rowe, the young apprentice to a successful apothecary, as he puts all his skills to the test to uncover a terrible secret that is threatening the city’s apothecaries. After earning his degree in theoretical physics, Sands has worked as a business consultant and teacher. The Blackthorn Key, his debut novel, is the first book in... Read The Blackthorn Key Summary


Publication year 2018Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Relationships: Family, Society: Class, Society: Community, Identity: Mental Health, Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Life/Time: The Past, Identity: Disability, Life/Time: The Future, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Natural World: Nurture v. Nature, Society: Education, Life/Time: Childhood & YouthTags Trauma / Abuse / Violence, Mental Illness, Science / Nature, Health / Medicine

Publication year 2007Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: FriendshipTags Children's Literature

Published in 2007, Jacqueline Davies’s The Lemonade War is the first installment in an award-winning series. The fictional children’s novel follows the Treski siblings as they compete for the most successful lemonade stand. The competition takes place the summer before Jessie Treski, an academically minded student, joins her older brother Evan’s fourth-grade class. The chapters alternate between Jessie and Evan’s perspectives.Plot SummaryWhen the Treski family receives a letter explaining that Jessie will skip a grade... Read The Lemonade War Summary


Publication year 2007Genre Novel, FictionTags Mystery / Crime Fiction, Children's Literature

The Mysterious Benedict Society (2007) by Trenton Lee Stewart is a New York Times best-selling children’s novel, the first in a mystery series that includes two sequels and a prequel. The book was included on reading lists published by notable several organizations, including the Association for Library Service to Children, Books for Youth, and the Texas Library Association.Plot SummaryFour children, Reynie Muldoon, Sticky Washington, Kate Wetherall, and Constance Contraire, respond to a newspaper advertisement for... Read The Mysterious Benedict Society Summary


Publication year 2019Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Relationships: Mothers, Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Mystery / Crime Fiction, Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction, Technology, American Literature, Children's Literature

The Strangers is a young adult mystery novel published in 2019 by the American author Margaret Peterson Haddix. It tells the story of the three Greystone children who seek to unravel a kidnapping mystery. It is Volume 1 in the Greystone Secrets series, which Haddix returned to in 2020 with Volume 2, The Deceivers. Haddix is the author of more than 40 books for kids and teens, including the Shadow Children series, the Missing series... Read The Strangers Summary


Publication year 2015Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Emotions/Behavior: GriefTags Children's Literature

The Thing About Jellyfish is American author Ali Benjamin’s first novel. This title is a middle grade novel set in modern-day Massachusetts. Suzy Swanson, a seventh grader, is the protagonist and narrator of this contemporary, realistic story. The Thing About Jellyfish was a 2015 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature Finalist. This guide follows the first edition from 2015 (Little, Brown and Company).The coming-of-age novel demonstrates the challenges of growing up, especially around matters... Read The Thing About Jellyfish Summary


Publication year 2016Genre Novel, FictionTags Children's Literature, Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction

The Wild Robot is the story of Roz, a newly manufactured robot who becomes a castaway on an island with no human inhabitants when the ship transporting her sinks during a hurricane. The other crates holding the robot cargo are destroyed, but Roz remains the sole survivor. When she is accidentally activated by some curious otters, Roz awakens to find there is no one there to assign tasks to her. She is free to explore... Read The Wild Robot Summary


Publication year 2015Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Relationships: Family, Society: Education, Society: Politics & GovernmentTags History: U.S., Technology, History: World, Science / Nature

Publication year 2012Genre Novel, FictionTags Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature

Ungifted is a 2012 novel for children written by Gordon Korman and is the recipient of the 2014 Red Cedar Award. Narrated from multiple perspectives, the story follows Donovan Curtis, an average student at Hardcastle Middle School who is accidentally sent to an academy for gifted kids. It chronicles the characters’ growth and change as they learn to balance intellectual achievement with experience and social engagement.Donovan is a prankster who struggles to control his impulses... Read Ungifted Summary