4 out of 4 stars
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What Can I Be? STEM Careers from A to Z by Tiffani Teachey is an alphabet book for children. Just as you would expect in a children’s ABC book, each page depicts a different letter of the alphabet with a corresponding word beginning with that letter. But this is not your typical ABC book for little kiddos; there will be no “A is for Apple” here. As the title implies, it’s all about careers within the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields, from Astronaut to Zoologist.
Although it is a children’s book, I wouldn’t necessarily say that it’s for young children. Upper elementary school students would more likely benefit from this book. So unlike other ABC books, this one isn’t about teaching the alphabet; it’s about teaching different options for STEM careers. And while the list of careers isn’t extensive by any means – there is only one career per letter – it at least gives a starting point for students to open up their minds about potential futures. There is also a brief description about what someone in that career does. To top it all off, there are cute little cartoon depictions of six diverse recurring characters to go with each description.
This book stood out to me because, by pure chance, I started working at a science and engineering middle/high school just a month or so ago. Coming from an “artsy” background, I was overwhelmed by the curriculum these students are expected to learn; even sixth graders take engineering classes! Even so, most of them don’t really know the point of these STEM classes that are part of their core curriculum. With that in mind, I could easily picture the pages of this book on a poster hung up around the border of one of their classrooms. I know I personally could have done with something like this 20 or so years ago!
The down side of the book is that it is merely an ABC book with a brief sentence or two per page. It’s short and sweet, and it accomplishes exactly what it needs to do and nothing more. There is a lot of potential for conversation and/or classroom curriculum to be stimulated from this book (e.g., explaining the challenging vocabulary presented throughout the book, research projects to go further in depth on the duties of the careers, an interview with someone in that career, etc.), and I almost wish that some of those conversations were at least initiated within this book. A little bit more in-depth information about each career would have been awesome, even in glossary form so as to not take away from the illustrations on each page.
Overall, I thought this was a great book, and I gladly give it 4 out of 4 stars. The subject is great, and the way it is presented is beautiful. The pictures look amazing on my black-and-white Kindle, so I can only imagine how great they look in full color. As I mentioned above, a poster version or an alphabet border strip of this book would be fantastic and could be hanging on classroom walls right now. I would recommend this book especially to STEM teachers to initiate conversation and open up the minds of their students to potential future careers within promising fields.
What Can I Be? STEM Careers from A to Z
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