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Read It Again!

by Diann Gano

parent and child reading

“Can you read it again? PLEASE?” 

Have you been hearing this plea over and over again lately? Maybe it's time for some new reading material!

As September unfolds, the following STEM books are guaranteed to educate, enrich and entertain young children. The concept of a STEM-focused education (which incorporates science, technology, engineering and math into the academic curriculum) has grown in popularity in recent years. You may sometimes see it referred to as STEAM (which includes art and design) or even STREAM (which includes reading). When you read with your child, bake with your child, fix something with a screwdriver or take a walk to the park, STEM, STEAM and STREAM are all around you!

So let's get to the books! The Storytelling Math series features children using math during their daily adventures as they play, build and explore the world around them. There are so many reasons to like this series, but what resonates most with me is the message that children really do learn a great deal through play. Whether they're beading bracelets, playing with trucks or tucking in their stuffed animals at naptime, children are always learning something new. Each book on this list is so good that you won't mind at all when your young explorer begs you to "read it again."

This series focuses on math concepts that young children encounter in their daily lives. Packed with content that will introduce children to patterns, spatial relationships and everyday math vocabulary words, these little gems also reflect the diversity of our world with characters, authors and illustrators from a wide range of cultural and ethnic backgrounds. I love the whole series, but the books featured below are our favorites.

Our most requested book in this series is Bracelets for Bina’s Brothers. This book has inspired discussions about siblings, educated us about the holiday traditions of our friends and neighbors, introduced us to patterns and engaged us in problem-solving activities. In this celebration of Raksha Bandhan (a Hindu festival honoring the sibling relationship), the youngest sibling, Bina, is determined to make bracelets for each of her three brothers. Vijay loves blue but doesn’t like green. Siddharth is fond of green but can’t stand orange. Arjun likes orange but is sick of blue. With three colors to work with, Bina works hard to get the bracelets just right. This book often leads to requests for beads as we work on our own bracelet patterns, which adds art to our endeavors for a full STEAM experience.

As much as my gang loves bracelets, I love Usha and the Big Digger—a beautifully illustrated tale about a girl who loves trucks. This book addresses rotationgeometry and spatial relationships, along with looking at things from different perspectives. Cousins survey the same part of the night sky and see different constellations on a starry night. After they switch vantage points, they each see what the other has seen. As the cousins rotate, they see the Big Dipper rotate too. This book features Indian-American characters, as well as insights into different cultures, their interpretations of constellations and their stories about the stars. When storytime is over, you'll find some fun STEM activities to extend the learning—as well as a great tutorial on how to do a cartwheel!

We are also big fans of Sara Levine and her many science books, so I knew that we were in for a treat when I saw that she was one of the authors in the Storytelling Math series. In her book, The Animals Would Not Sleep!, it’s bedtime for Marco and his stuffed animals, but the animals will have none of it. When Marco tries to put them away, they fly, swim and slither right out of their bins. Marco tries sorting the animals in different ways, but nothing works and the animals start getting cranky. How can Marco make everyone happy and put an end to the mayhem? He thinks like a scientist to come up with a solution. This is another favorite that will stimulate plenty of discussion and help build problem-solving skills. It will also pave the way for some fun stuffed animal play!

These delightful stories go beyond common early math topics such as counting and shapes to explore topics such as patternscategorizing and spatial reasoning—topics that lay the foundation for later math success but are rarely included in early math books and learning materials. Reach out to your library for any of these wonderful titles. Enjoy your autumn reading adventures!

Looking for a great resource for multicultural picture books? Check out Diverse Book Finder, the go-to resource for librarians, educators, parents and others interested in building picture book collections that reflect the diverse cultures and lifestyles of the children who read them.

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