Storybooks and STEM: Using Books as a Tool to Support Early Childhood Family STEM Learning

March 30th, 2020 | RESEARCH

Children’s storybooks are a ubiquitous learning resource, and one with huge potential to support STEM learning. They also continue to be a primary way that children learn about the world and engage in conversations with family members, even as the use of other media and technology increases. Especially before children learn to read, storybooks create the context for in-depth learning conversations with parents and other adults, which are the central drivers of STEM learning and development more broadly at this age. Although there is a body of literature highlighting the benefits of storybooks for children’s learning in classrooms and clinal laboratory settings, less work has been done to understand their potential for informal STEM learning contexts. This session will share findings from recent studies exploring the use of storybooks with preschool-age children (3 to 5 years) and their families in these settings, including afterschool programs, museums and science centers, and home-based family programs. The session will begin with results from a national survey of researchers and educators using children’s books to support STEM engagement and learning in early childhood, followed by findings from three specific projects exploring this topic.



Team Members

Phyllis Katz, Author, University of Maryland
Scott Pattison, Author, TERC
Gina Navoa Svarovsky, Author, University of Notre Dame
Julia Plummer, Author, Pennsylvania State University
Kyungjin Cho, Author, Pennsylvania State University
Tara Cox, Author, The Franklin Institute
Julia Skolnik, Author, The Franklin Institute
Karen Peterson, Author, National Girls Collaborative Project
Erin Stafford, Author, Education Development Center
Sara Greller, Author, Education Development Center


Publication: NARST 2020


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: AISL
Award Number: 1217441

Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: AISL
Award Number: 1712878

Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: AISL
Award Number: 1902536

Funding Source: Private Foundation
Funding Program: Heising-Simons Foundation
Award Number: 2017-0568

Related URLs

My Sky Tonight: Early Childhood Pathways to Astronomy
Leap into Science: Cultivating a National Network for Informal Science and Literacy
Storybook STEM: Professional Convening for Cross-Sector Understanding of Children's Literature as a Tool for Supporting Informal STEM Learning


Access and Inclusion: Black | African American Communities | English Language Learners | Ethnic | Racial | Hispanic | Latinx Communities | Low Socioeconomic Status
Audience: Educators | Teachers | Families | Learning Researchers | Museum | ISE Professionals | Parents | Caregivers | Pre-K Children (0-5)
Discipline: Education and learning science | General STEM | Mathematics
Resource Type: Conference Proceedings | Reference Materials
Environment Type: Afterschool Programs | Informal | Formal Connections | Museum and Science Center Programs | Pre-K | Early Childhood Programs | Public Programs

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This material is supported by National Science Foundation award DRL-2229061, with previous support under DRL-1612739, DRL-1842633, DRL-1212803, and DRL-0638981. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations contained within are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of NSF.

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