TRC Read to Kids

Welcome to The Reading Connection’s blog, where you’ll find the best guidance on reading aloud to kids. Whether you are a TRC Read-Aloud volunteer, parent or student, the book themes and crafts ideas, child development guidelines and recommended websites will expand your world. For 25 years, The Reading Connection has worked to improve the lives of at-risk kids by linking the magic of reading to fun experiences that inspire a passion for learning. Visit our website at

Monday, October 1, 2012

Finding diversity and inspiration in STEM books

Astronaut Sandy Magnus talks with kids 
at Independence Place

One of the best benefits of reading is that the language in books guides us to imagine or create our own vision of the story. It's even better when a story inspires a vision of something we might not have seen or looked for on our own. Our vision may be quite different from the author's vision or from the vision of a movie director. We may even begin to see ourselves in the story. You all knew that, I'm sure, but I hope you'll also recognize that intersection of the story and the readers' / listeners' reactions is where we can use books to best influence and empower young people in the most constructive ways. A single book can spark an interest that could drive an entire career.

Social science research shows correlations between exposure to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), career stereotypes and self-perception, particularly concerning sex, gender, socioeconomic status and race.  As a community, a nation, and as humans, we benefit from diverse thinkers and diverse examples of everything we do and have. This is why I hope you’ll help expose children to books describing a wide variety of STEM professionals: young field researchers, technicians, computer programmers, nurses, accountants, crime scene investigators, architects, mechanics, marine biologists, electrical engineers, civil engineers, construction managers, entrepreneurs, environmental scientists, vulcanologists, health inspectors, IT specialists and astrophysicists.

Where should you look for great STEM books? Many of you may already be familiar with the Children’s Book Council. They have a great Children’s Choices Reading List assembled in cooperation with the International Reading Association.  But, for almost 40 years, experienced science teachers of the National Science Teachers' Association (headquartered right here in the Courthouse neighborhood of Arlington) have worked with the Children’s Book Council to identify great books, selected based on the books’ accuracy, creativity, how they convey the practices of science and how they engage readers. These lists are called the Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K–12, and the lists from the last 15 years are published online at  

The books vary from exploratory to career inspiring, from poetry to visual art, and from narrowed focus to integration with history and culture. The lists are very comprehensive, so narrow things down by looking for books in the age range of the children at your Read-Alouds and about topics that interest you. Browse these lists, and look for books that especially spark your own curiosity. When you read one aloud, your audience will hear your enthusiasm and may be inspired, too. If you're looking for books describing a specific STEM career, I'll be glad to help.

Guest blog post by Jim Egenrieder - Jim[at]

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