February 1, 2017

Help build a K-12 classroom library with STEM books

Posted by Laura Guertin

Books have the power to trigger a lifelong urge to know more about the world and its environs. — “Turn children on to science through reading“, Nature Editorial (December 7, 2016)

I was extremely fortunate to have parents that encouraged me to read when I was growing up. I have many fond memories of trips to the bookstore and local public library to pick out a new book or two. My grade schools had libraries staffed with librarians and volunteers that always recommended books to check out – but I tended to gravitate to my favorites – the Madeline series, then Nancy Drew mysteries, etc.

More and more individual classrooms have libraries, where teachers are building up their own collections for students. It is exciting to hear of more access to books! The classroom libraries are essential, as school libraries and librarians are “going extinct.” For example, in the Philadelphia School District with 220 schools and 134,000 students, there are only eight certified, full-time school librarians (The Philadelphia Inquirer, January 9, 2017). Some school libraries can remain open with volunteers, but many are completely closed. The lack of funding is also impacting public libraries. For example, in 2009, all of Philadelphia’s Free Library system was just days away of closing all of their doors at all branches because of budgetary issues.

This is not a blog post to relive the “good old days” of libraries, and I’m not going to dive into how disappointing it is to see all sorts of bookstores struggling to stay in business. But if reflecting back on your own early memories of reading and library visits has brought a smile to your face, please consider helping teachers and their classrooms libraries with the purchase of a STEM-themed book.

Did you know… Teens who read about the personal and intellectual struggles of scientists feel more motivated to learn science. — from “Even Einstein Struggled: Effects of Learning About Great Scientists’ Struggles on High School Students’ Motivation to Learn Science“, Journal of Educational Psychology (2016)

Here are some lists of recommended STEM books across ages/grade levels.

These are some general STEM book lists that would still be appropriate for high school students and a general audience:

Specific recommendations from from recent Twitter posts by Alexandra Witze (@alexwitze, correspondent for Nature) include: