This question comes up at the start of every school year: What is a good STEM book to read on the first day of school? There are SO many wonderful options that I hope this list helps you find the perfect one(s) for you and your class! (Disclaimer: I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website. Your purchase helps support our work in bringing you downloads of value and information about educational resources. The link below is an Amazon affiliate link. You can read our full disclosure here.)

STEM Read Aloud Books to Encourage Teamwork and Growth Mindset

There are so many fantastic STEM read alouds! If you have one that wasn’t mentioned please comment and I’ll try to add it. With so many options, I know one of these will be just right for your students!


The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

This is one of my most favorite read alouds for STEM. A girl struggles to bring an idea to fruition. Trial and failure are at the forefront of this beautifully illustrated story. STEM projects almost never work right the first time, or look how students imagined. This is a great way to set the tone that failure is expected and perseverance can pay off!

What I really love about this story is that it shows the iterative portion of the engineering design process. The girl needs to keep improving upon her ideas to get her magnificent thing. Such an important lesson!

STEM activity idea: Give students a piece of paper and ask what they can make with it. When they have finished, give them a second one and ask if they can improve upon their initial idea.

Recommended for any age.


Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty

Your younger students in particular will appreciate this rhyming story and the colorful and bright illustrations that accompany this read aloud, once again featuring the importance of failure.

You can even feature Rosie Revere, Engineer read from space at Story Time from Space read by astronaut Kate Rubins.

STEM exploration: Find something in your classroom that was designed by an engineer or engineers. Talk about what design features it has, how it works, what materials it’s made of, and how it was possibly manufactured (check out the How It’s Made TV series for some short video clips on how things are made.)

Recommended for K-3.


The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Gary Rubinstein and Mark Pett

As I gathered this list I did notice a running theme – young girls who struggle with failure. About half of the stories on this list feature little girls who like to tinker and fail. This one is not STEM-focused but is so, so important particularly for all of the perfectionists in your class. I can’t stress enough how important it is to show failure, over and over again, and how it can be celebrated. It can be used as a way to pivot towards success, simply as a way to learn and grow, or how to laugh and even enjoy our mistakes (as Beatrice does in the book)!

Recommended for up to grade 3.


If I Built a School by Chris van Dusen

Chris van Dusen has a number of “If I Built” books that are all worth checking out! Another book with fabulous rhyme and rhythm, this book will inspire imaginations.

STEM activity idea: Have students design and create a prototype of their dream school, or find this Storybook STEM resource from Teach Outside the Box:

Recommended for K-3.


Violet the Pilot by Steve Breen

Steve Breen’s illustrations in this book will appeal to your younger and older kids! Violet is a quirky, nerdy, kid with aspirations of flying. Not only will this story make your students laugh, it will inspire them to tinker and look at junk in a new way. This story will really speak to your students who don’t feel like they fit in.

STEM activity ideas: Design and create paper airplanes to fly and race, or find a number of STEM activities for Violet the Pilot here:

Recommended for K-5.


Those Darn Squirrels by Adam Rubin

This hilarious and fun STEM read aloud features clever squirrels who constantly outwit the lead character and eat the bird seed from the bird feeders. It also shows the squirrels coming up with detailed design plans and working together to outfox the man and get the bird seed for themselves.

STEM activity idea: Design a squirrel-proof bird feeder. Or find these Bookshelf STEM ideas:

Recommended for K-5.


Ticktock Banneker’s Clock by Shana Keller

This one is particularly suited to upper elementary students and tells the historical story of Benjamin Banneker’s drive to create a strike clock based on a pocket watch. The story goes in depth showing how sometimes you need to take a lot of time and patience in order to accomplish a bit task.

STEM activity idea: Create a scale drawing of your classroom! Kerry Tracy from Feel-Good Teaching has a STEM resource for this read aloud:

You can also find historical background, teacher guides, and the author’s read aloud at the Shana Keller’s website.

Recommended for grades 3 and up.


Lindbergh: The Tale of a Flying Mouse by Torben Kuhlmann

While this is another story about a character obsessed with flying, this time the character is a mouse. Oh, my, the illustrations in this story are all frame-worthy, but the story of perseverance is just as good. I have fallen in love with all of Torben Kuhlmann’s books and highly recommend them.

Recommended for grades 2 and up.


After the Fall by Dan Santat

Yes, this is another book about failure, accidents, fears, and most of all, growth mindset! Humpty Dumpty is terrified of climbing the wall since his fall. This story is relatable and perfect for your students who need a little extra encouragement when things aren’t going their way.

STEM activity idea: Design and create a paper airplane.

STEM activity idea: Brooke Brown from Teach Outside the Box has a Storybook STEM resource for this read aloud:

Recommended for K-5.

What Do You Do with an Idea? by Kobi Yamada

This book isn’t specifically STEM, but it’s just so wonderful and applicable for any teacher as a first day book. It’s a story about wonder, bravery, and how good things can come from taking chances.

STEM activity ideas: Try these Bookshelf STEM activities:

Recommended for any age.


Izzy Gizmo by Pip Jones

This story is fairly similar in theme to The Most Magnificent Thing and Rosie Revere, Engineer . However, the story is unique and the illustrations show so much expression in Izzy’s face! This is another lovely rhyming story about not giving up. You’ll definitely want to read it to your students.

Recommended for K-4.


Teammates by Peter Golenbock

This story came as a recommendation as part of Elementary STEM Club and I’m so excited to share it here! One of the best ways to start off your school year is by doing team-building. This book goes hand-in-hand with team building and is so important from a historical perspective. The story talks about segregation, including segregation in baseball and discrepancies in pay and playing conditions. It also talks about how Jackie Robinson felt as an outsider, being the only black player and being avoided, ridiculed, and threatened.

While this read aloud isn’t STEM-centric, it is so important to set the stage in STEM for including ALL your students, regardless of race, gender, or ability. It shows how important it is to be kind and accepting. Themes like teamwork and inclusivity are so crucial to STEM that I hope you will check this book out!

Recommended for grades 3 and up.


What to Do with a Box by Jane Yolen

This one is just right for your littlest makers! A box can be anything you set your mind to. Perfect to spark the imagination or provide a little bit of escape, this will surely be one of your favorite ways to start off your STEM year with your tiny engineers. There are several “box” STEM read alouds and I like all of them (Boxitects and A Box Can Be Many Things are two others).

STEM activity: Provide boxes for your students and let their imaginations run wild! If you can plan ahead and ask for large boxes from things like appliances, school supplies, etc., you will see some amazing creations. Otherwise, have parents save cereal boxes! The thin cardboard is very easy to work with, especially for little hands.

Recommended for up through first grade.


Up the Creek by Nicholas Oldland

Do you love woodland animals? You’re going to ADORE this read aloud from Nicholas Oldland. This is another one about teamwork and how you need to work together sometimes to get things done!

STEM activity for teamwork: Students work together to build a tower with blocks, using only one hand each.

Recommended for up to grade 2.


The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds

“Just make a mark and see where it takes you.” This statement sums up what I just adore about this read aloud! Sometimes the hardest part of STEM is simply getting started. It also shows how believing in others (or when others believe in you) can make such a difference.

STEM activity idea: Free downloadable resources for Dot Day from Meredith Anderson:

Recommended for up to grade 4.


Made by Maxine by Ruth Spiro

One of the things I love in this book is that Maxine is shown using a device like Makey Makey! Maxine is a tinkerer and goldfish owner extraordinaire who loves to repurpose old things into new. If your students like to talk about their pets, they will really love this read aloud!

STEM activity ideas: Try Makey Makey (below) or use these Bookshelf STEM activities:

Recommended for up to grade 5.

Get Makey Makey:

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