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Picture Book Biographies and the Science and Engineering Practices

I've always been a fan of picture book biographies, and there has been a veritable explosion of titles in the past few years. I've been doing a lot of reading, both for my own classroom and in search of mentor texts for my own writing. As I've read, I've thought about how helpful it would be to have a list of STEM picture book biographies aligned to the NGSS Science and Engineering Practices. So, here's my stab at such a list.

For simplicity's sake, I've chosen to list each title only once. However, most books include reference to multiple (if not all) Science and Engineering Practices. I've gone back and forth on where to list some titles, and still might be persuaded to classify them differently with a good discussion. Let me know in the comments!

I'll add to this list as I continue to read!


Asking Questions and Defining Problems

  • The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes by Julia Finley Mosca

  • The Boy Whose Head Was Filled with Stars: A Life of Edwin Hubble by Isabelle Marinov

  • The Planet Hunter: The Story Behind What Happened to Pluto by Elizabeth Rusch

  • The Vast Wonder of the World: Biologist Ernest Everett Just by Mélina Mangal

  • The Leaf Detective: How Margaret Lowman Uncovered Secrets in the Rainforest by Heather Lang

Developing and Using Models

  • Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea: Marie Tharp Maps the Ocean Floor by Robert Burleigh

  • Ocean Speaks: How Marie Tharp Revealed the Ocean's Biggest Secret by Jess Keating

Planning and Carrying Out Investigations

  • The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon by Jacqueline Davies

  • The Watcher: Jane Goodall's Life with the Chimps by Jeanette Winter

  • Buzzing with Questions: The Inquisitive Life of Charles Henry Turner by Janice Harrington

  • Beatrix Potter, Scientist by Lindsey H. Metcalf

  • The Polio Pioneer: Dr. Jonas Salk and the Polio Vaccine by Linda Elovitz Marshall

Analyzing and Interpreting Data

  • Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom by Teresa Robeson

  • What Miss Mitchell Saw by Hayley Barrett

  • The Stuff Between the Stars: How Vera Rubin Discovered Most of the Universe by Sandra Nickel

Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking

  • Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13 by Helaine Becker

  • Margaret and the Moon by Dean Robbins

  • Counting the Stars: The Story of Katherine Johnson, NASA Mathematician by Lesa Cline-Ransome

  • Secret Engineer: How Emily Roebling Built the Brooklyn Bridge by Rachel Dougherty

  • Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer by Traci Sorell

Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

  • The Girl Who Thought in Pictures by Julia Finley Mosca

  • Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents an Airplane by Kirsten W. Larson

  • The Brilliant Deep: Rebuilding the World's Coral Reefs by Kate Messner

Engaging in Argument From Evidence

  • Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean's Most Fearless Scientist by Jess Keating

  • Mario and the Hole in the Sky: How a Chemist Saved Our Planet by Elizabeth Rusch

Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

  • Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World by Laurie Lawlor

  • Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: The Woman Who Loved Reptiles by Patricia Valdez

  • Marjory Saves the Everglades: The Story of Marjory Stoneman Douglas by Sandra Neil Wallace

And finally, these picture book biographies don't align neatly with the Science and Engineering Practices, but are certainly worth sharing with your students!

  • Evelyn the Adventurous Entomologist: The True Story of a World-Traveling Bug Hunter by Christine Evans

  • The Astronaut With a Song for the Stars: The Story of Dr. Ellen Ochoa by Julia Finley Mosca

  • To the Stars! The First American Woman to Walk in Space by Carmella Van Vleet and Dr. Kathy Sullivan

  • Mary Anning and the Sea Dragon by Jeannine Atkins

  • When Sue Found Sue: Sue Hendrickson Discovers Her T. Rex by Toni Buzzeo

  • Night Walk to the Sea: A Story About Rachel Carson, Earth's Protector by Deborah Wiles

  • Were I Not a Girl: The Inspiring and True Story of Dr. James Barry by Lisa Robinson and Lauren Simkin Berke

  • The Girl Who Named Pluto: The Story of Venetia Burney by Alice B. McGinty

Have you used one of these titles to illustrate a different Science and Engineering Practice? Have a picture book biography I need to read and add to the list? Share in the comments!


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