Picturing Science – 12 Favorite Children’s Books From This Year

It's time to take a look back at all of the new STEM/nature picture books we've read over the past year!

Over the last few years, I’ve shared a lot of children's books as I discovered them. There are so many fabulous nature and science books for kids available now, that it feels impossible to keep up with them all. This year, however, I started more paying attention to new releases and decided it was finally time to make a list with some of the best STEM/nature picture books this year.

Many of these books are from my picture-book favorite authors and illustrators, and some are new releases in well-known children’s series, so you may want to check out other books by these authors as well!
And, since the books ended up fitting into a couple different themes, I've broken the list into sections.  

(This list includes affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small fee from qualifying purchases. There is no additional cost to purchasers to use these links.)

Life Cycles and Ecosystems:

Whale Fall: Exploring an Ocean Floor-Ecosystem, by Melissa Stewart, illustrated by Rob Dunlavy – What happens when a whale dies? This book explores one part of the food web in the ocean, as a whale’s body sinks to the ocean floor and turns into food for dozens of different species. The topic may seem a bit macabre, but I thought this was a fascinating book with gorgeous illustrations. 

A River of Dust: the Life-Giving Link Between North Africa and the Amazon, by Jilanne Hoffman, illustrated by Eugenia Mello – this story is told as a sort of love letter between two continents, once joined together. They’re now separated, but scientists have discovered that dust from Africa still travels to South America, carrying nutrients to the Amazon rainforest. 

Over and Under the Waves, by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal – another fun story from the entertaining Over and Under series with sea stars, otters, and so many other amazing ocean creatures. It’s a lovely story about exploring ecosystem together. 

A Shell is Cozy, by Dianna Hutts Aston, illustrated by Sylvia Long – I love the other books in this Nature Books series, so this book went on my list as soon as I saw it. It’s a brilliantly colorful look at all kinds of shells, their shapes, colors, and sizes, and the different environments where gastropods are found all around the world. I enjoyed it and highly recommend it for any and all nature explorers. 

Fungi Grow, by Maria Gianferrari, illustrated by Diana Sudyek – there are a lot of great books that look at different kinds of mushrooms, but this book explores how mushroom spores spread, grow, beguile, and spread again. There’s a lyrical lilt to the text, extra information for kids who want to read more, and a captivating set of illustrations. 

A Stone is a Story, by Leslie Barnard Booth, illustrated by Marc Martin - what happens when a stone travels through time? It’s shaped by a volcano, changed by roots, and rivers, and ice, moving across the earth and through the earth until a child finds it and picks it up for a closer look.

What's Inside a Caterpillar Cocoon? And Other Questions About Moths & Butterflies, by Rachel Ignotofsky – How much do you know about moths and butterflies? This book shows the vibrant, active life of butterflies, and many of the illustrations also include infographic-style notes for kids that want to explore more. 

Scientific Discoveries:

Darwins’ Super-Pooping Worm Spectacular, by Polly Owen, illustrated by Gwen Millward – why are worms special? The book tells how Charles Darwing studied worms, trying to figure out what made them so special. It’s a fun, and not-at-all gross story about worms, poop, and scientific determination.

The Bone Wars: The True Story of an Epic Battle to Find Dinosaur Fossils, by Jane Kurtz, illustrated by Alexander Vidal – what happens when two scientists get into a fight? An explosion in the science world as the scientists race each other to find new fossils! This book is an entertaining story for all dino-fans.

Medicine and Health:

https://amzn.to/3tpAP1O I’m Trying to Love Germs, by Bethany Barton – my oldest loves reading about the immune system, so when I saw that there was a new book in Bethany Barton’s series, we had to check it out. This is a charming, information-packed science book with a sense of humor, and it’s a great way to learn more about microbes and pathogens.

https://amzn.to/41CCqxP A Vaccine Is Like a Memory, by Rajani LaRocca, illustrated by Kathleen Marcotte – How does an immune system work, and how can scientists help it fight off germs? This book explains the history of vaccines and how they work to protect people from diseases. It’s another fun resource for learning about immune systems.

https://amzn.to/41N8HCj A Walk In the Woods, by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney and Brian Pinkney – the other books on this list focus on knowing science, but this book explores understanding and relationships. This is the fictional story of a boy looking for comfort in the woods after losing his father and finding healing in the connections that brings.

Plus Two Bonus Books:

The picture books above are fantastic, informational read-aloud for kids of all ages, but I also wanted to include a couple extra books that have a bit more text and are better suited for older kids. These are also picture books, just with a few more words and a lot more information.

The Book of Turtles, by Sy Montgomery, illustrated by Matt Patterson – this book is one of my favorites from the past year, both for the text and for the illustration. It introduces kids to turtles—all kinds of turtles, found all over the world, all through history. It’s a lovely book and a good resources for learning more about these incredible animals.

The Upside-Down Book of Sloths, by Elizabeth Shreeve, illustrated by Isabella Grott – you probably know that sloths move slowly and spend most of their lives in a trees, but did you know that some prehistoric sloths were enormous? How many different kinds of sloths are there and how do they live? This book can answer all your questions about sloths, and a few more besides.

These are just some of the STEM picture books from 2023. If you’re interested in finding other recommendations for science-themed picture books from the past year, check out this list from Science Friday: https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/science-books-for-kids-2023/.