As co-founders of QuestFriendz, a STEAM educational children’s book publisher, and parents to twin book-loving girls, Lisa Moss and Dr. Thomas Bernard (I) are very passionate about National Share A Story Month (NSMM). This annual celebration of the power of storytelling and story sharing is the perfect opportunity to discover new books and discuss your favourites with friends and family so that’s exactly what we – the Bernard Moss family – have been doing.
Together with our six-year-old twin daughters, Emilie and Rebecca, we’ve picked our Top Ten books to share with you for this special occasion and have written a little review for each. You’ll notice that they’re all STEAM books which means they ignite an interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics – much like our own upcoming series of books – think PJ Masks meets The Magic Faraway Tree with a questing, STEAM-learning twist for 5-7-year-olds!
Izzy Gizmo and the Invention Convention – written by Pip Jones, illustrated by Sara Ogilvie (reviewed by 6-year-old Rebecca)
I loved all the interesting and clever inventions at the invention convention, especially Izzy’s Tool-Fix-Recycle-O-Matic because you can fix lots of broken tools instead of throwing them away. Izzy is really lucky to have a clever helper like Fixer, who helps her to solve the problem and win first prize.
Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World by Kate Pankhurst (reviewed by Lisa)
This is an inspiring non-fiction book that takes both children and adults on a series of mini stories and adventures, highlighting the achievements of thirteen of the most important and courageous women in history, true trailblazers. I loved that this book triggered so many questions from my daughters and gave me a great opportunity to cover a diverse set of topics with them ranging from fashion, art, science, palaeontology, aviation to politics, human rights, war, and even secret agents. I believe it really opened my daughters’ eyes up to the fact that it took many courageous women before us to reach where we are today.
The beautiful and colourful illustrations help children to follow along step-by-step on each adventure, keeping them engaged and curious to find out more. What I love most of all is that it exposes children to a set of diverse role models and helps them to see that if you follow your dreams and dare to be courageous, you really can change the world!
Ada Twist, Scientist – written by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts (reviewed by 6-year-old Emilie)
I LOVE Ada Twist, Scientist. My favourite part is when Ada makes a colourful, fizzy, fun science experiment at school and surprises Miss Greer! The teacher and her friends all think Ada is very smart! I think she’s smart too; she has lots of ideas, asks lots of questions and works hard to find solutions.
My First Coding Book by Kiki Prottsman (reviewed by Thomas)
This is a great book which I used to introduce programming, or ‘coding’, to my daughters. It focuses on the different parts involved in coding like breaking problems down into smaller parts (tasks) which helps to make the problems easier to solve. It covers a range of coding concepts including algorithms, debugging, sequencing, pattern recognition, loop patterns, etc. The overall tone is funny and engaging for children and puts them in the role of learning how to become super coders. I personally really love how the book covers problem solving in a step-by-step and interactive way, while weaving in diverse coding-related topics. Each book spread is colourful and engaging and focuses on a theme – like bug hunting and storing data – where the children use the flaps to solve problems. The book articulates complex computer terms to children in a simplified way and at the same time uses relatable and engaging interactive examples. This approach really helped to keep both of my daughters interested and engaged. For example, they loved learning how to debug by finding the ‘bugs’ in the cake machine. Helping the safari monkey to make his way safely through the jungle and learning about sequencing was another favourite!
Ara the Star Engineer – written by Komal Singh and illustrated by Ipek Konak (reviewed by 6-year-old Rebecca)
Ara visits a really cool place called the Innovation Plex with her robot DeeDee. I love that there are so many awesome things to learn about like experiments, how your brain works, dinosaur skeletons and inventions. The experiments are my favourite!
Counting on Katherine – written by Helaine Becker, illustrated by Dow Phumiruk (reviewed by Lisa)
This is a fascinating biography of a woman who, despite challenges throughout her life, persevered to achieve great things. The book really draws you in and takes readers on a journey of Katherine Johnson’s life, from her early days as a young girl in school with a love for learning to her heroic accomplishments as a prominent mathematician at NASA. The book covers many surprises like the fact that Katherine was so bright she skipped three grades but initially couldn’t attend high school due to segregation. This was very eye-opening to both Emilie and Rebecca and gave us the opportunity to cover these important topics.
Katherine faced many challenges along the way due to her ethnicity and gender, however her perseverance, passion and hard work helped her to overcome each obstacle. Her work at NASA, including how she helped Apollo 11 to land safely on the moon and brought the damaged Apollo 13 safely back to Earth on the Apollo missions, made her a hero and a true role model.
Hello Ruby: Expedition to the Internet by Linda Liukas (reviewed by 6-year-old Emilie)
I love it when Ruby and her friends build the snow internet! It looks like a magical world inside a computer full of lots of friends having fun. I especially love the robot serving ice cream, the rainbow unicorn and the snow leopard.
Lift-the-flap Computers and Coding by Rosie Dickins (reviewed by Thomas)
As per the My First Coding book, this one uses flaps to emphasize the hands-on and interactive learning approach. This is a really great way to stimulate young children to learn with both their hands and minds at the same time. This book covers more on computers, their role, how they think and work, what’s inside them from a discovery and sensory aspect and the languages they use. Children also get to build an understanding of how computers work and interact with us in our society through the internet and how this has evolved over time. There are several hands-on activities throughout the book which my daughters found really interesting and helped to bring the concepts to life. For example, they loved learning about binary numbers and how old they are according to computers. At six years old there was definitely some excitement seeing their much larger looking binary number (110). Decoding the names of the robots (and their own names) using a unicode letter guide was also a lot of fun. They especially liked helping the pirate to find the treasure chest by following a set of instructions combined with learning how to use a compass. The interactive learning examples at different points throughout the book help to develop computational thinking, which is important to nurture from a young age, so it becomes second nature. Both Emilie and Rebecca really love this book as it answers visually a lot of their questions about computers: What is inside the computer and under the keyboard? How do they work? What is the internet?
Hello Ruby: Journey Inside the Computer by Linda Liukas (reviewed by 6-year-old Emilie and Rebecca)
It’s a lot of fun to see how Ruby and the white mouse can make themselves tiny enough to fit through the ‘mouse hole’ and into the computer! We wish we could do this too! It’s really interesting to see how a computer works inside. Our favourite part of the computer is the GPU (graphic processing unit). We love all the beautiful colours, it’s like having a little painter inside your computer!
Little Leaders: Visionary Women Around the World by Vashti Harrison (reviewed by Lisa)
This is such a great resource for children and adults of all ages, full of inspiring women from all walks of life around the world. I really enjoy that it covers both well-known and lesser-known women, all with their own unique stories to be told. This is a great way to expose your child to a lot of diverse and fascinating topics. Each mini story fuelled a wide assortment of questions from my six-year-old daughters. Each question was a great opportunity to extend the educational experience. We covered a few mini stories at a time each night, making it a much-anticipated bedtime favourite.
We hope you enjoyed our recommendations. At QuestFriendz we believe that starting STEM at an early age helps children to make important connections between everyday life and the STEM disciplines which is why we feel these books are so important. If you’d like to try out some of our fun STEM quests, just click here and let the fun begin!