Storybooks are a ubiquitous learning resource in classrooms and homes. As interest in early childhood STEM learning has increased, a growing number of projects are leveraging children’s fiction books as a tool for supporting STEM learning with young children and their families.


In December of 2019, TERC and the University of Notre Dame convened a group of 21 early childhood reading, family learning, and informal STEM education experts to explore this topic, synthesize current work, and develop recommendations for the field. The discussions focused particularly on programs and research with preschool-age children (3 to 5 years) and their families in out-of-school contexts, such as museums, afterschool programs, and everyday learning at home. In preparation for the meeting, the project team also conducted a national survey and organized a two-week, online forum with educators and researchers to identify key issues, current practices, and outstanding questions.

Considering STEM and picture books from the perspective of a researcher was interesting for me as a practitioner who is very focused on what high quality children’s literature is, what makes a picture book enjoyable for kids and their families, and how picture books support learning (including STEM concepts).”

– Convening participant