Science Story Time Book Collection

A list of story time books compiled by the Science & Technology librarian at NYSCI that feature:

  • science concepts
  • illustrations that can be seen clearly by a group
  • a narrative that encourages participation
  • enjoyable to read

Most of the books are geared for Pre K – 3. There are a few that are also good for older grades, as noted. The annotations include the publisher’s blurb, librarian remarks and recommended websites. These books are not for circulation.

Browse by:

Books for older children     Books for younger children


Science Story Time books for older children

actual size

Actual Size
Steve Jenkins
Discusses and gives examples of the size and weight of various animals and parts of animals. Beautiful illustrations. Measure your room so you can say that the tiger can jump from that bookcase to that door. Who weighs 50 pounds? The elephant would equal 280 of you.
Second grade and up.
Author’s essay on science:
An interview with Steve Jenkins:


alphabet theatre z was zapped copy

The Alphabet Theatre Proudly Presents the Z was Zapped: a play in twenty-six acts performed by the Caslon Players
Written and directed by Chris Van Allsburg
Depicts how A was in an avalanche, B was badly bitten, C was cut to ribbons, and the other letters of the alphabet suffered similar mishaps. Some of the vocabulary is too hard for little kids. Second graders and up get the jokes.
Teacher’s Guide:




Henry’s Amazing Machine
Dayle Ann Dodds; pictures by Kyrsten Brooker
Henry finally finds a purpose for the “Incredible, Amazing Machine” that he built.
Author’s website:






librarian basra squareThe librarian of Basra: a true story from Iraq
Jeanette Winter
During the Iraq War of 2003, librarian Alia Muhammad saves thirty thousand new and old books in her Basra library from destruction. Not much science, but celebrates a heroic librarian.
Interview with the author, Jeanette Winter.




and tango square


And Tango Makes Three
Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell; illustrated by Henry Cole
At New York City’s Central Park Zoo, two male penguins fall in love and start a family by taking turns sitting on an abandoned egg until it hatches. This is a true story.
Here is a school librarian’s blog listing picture books about the experience of knowing or having a gay parent, family member or friend.



wwangaris trees copy

Wangari’s trees of peace : a true story from Africa
Jeanette Winter
Planting the trees of Kenya : the story of Wangari  Maathai

Claire A. Nivola
These two books about Wangari Maathai tell the same true story, in different writing and illustration styles. Wangari was an environmentalist and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for leading the movement to replant trees in Kenya.
Click here for the official site of the Green Belt Movement and its founder, 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai.


tale of pale male square

The tale of Pale Male: a true story
Jeanette Winter
A true story of two red-tailed hawks, Pale Male and Lola, who made their home atop an apartment building in New York City and sparked a protest by those who loved them when the apartment board had their eight-foot-wide nest cleared away.
News story about the documentary, The Legend of Pale Male:
Great photos of Pale Male:



two of everything

Two of Everything: a Chinese folktale
Retold and illustrated by Lily Toy Hong
A poor old Chinese farmer finds a magic brass pot that doubles or duplicates whatever is placed inside it, but his efforts to make himself wealthy lead to unexpected complications. Good examples of simple math.
Other math picture books:
Math Moments by David Schwartz:



where in the wild Square

Where in the Wild?: camouflaged creatures concealed—and revealed
Ear-tickling poems by David M. Schwartz and Yael Schy; eye-tricking photos by Dwight Kuhn
This is one of my favorites. Includes gatefold pages. Poems with clues prompt readers to guess the identities of 10 camouflaged animals, revealed in gatefolds, and fact pages present information on each species, discussing their camouflage and life cycles. Good for older children. Be careful, they will want to get closer and closer as they search the photos for the hidden creature.
An amazing video of a camouflaging


Science Story Time books for younger children

10-Little-Rubber-Ducks copy

10 Little Rubber Ducks
Eric Carle
The inspiration for Carle’s new book came from the true story of a shipment of rubber ducks and other bathtub toys that fell overboard and washed up on shores all around the world.  Illustrated in his painted tissue paper collage, this story captures the voyage of a group of rubber ducks lost at sea and their encounters with creatures who live in and around the ocean.  More at Carle’s website.



animals should not square

Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing
Judi Barrett and illustrated by Ron Barrett
Pictures of animals wearing clothes show why this would be a ridiculous custom for them to adopt. Visually funny.





applesauce square

Applesauce Season
Eden Ross Lipson; illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein
A family works together to buy, peel, cook, and stir apples for the homemade applesauce they make every year. Good to read in the Fall.  Here’s a helpful autumn book list:





are you my mother square

Are You My Mother
Written and illustrated by P.D. Eastman
A little bird asks animals, planes, and boats, “Are you my mother?” until he finds his own mother. A good example of how a species can only give birth to its own kind.





bennys pennies

Benny’s Pennies
Pat Brisson; illustrated by Bob Barner
Benny sets off in the morning with five shiny new pennies to spend and eventually buys something for his mother, brother, sister, dog, and cat. Very simple math.





big dog little dog square

Big dog, Little Dog
Written and illustrated by P. D. Eastman
Two dogs are opposite in every way but are the very best of friends. Listeners can help by telling what is opposite.






Betsy Franco; illustrated by Steve Jenkins
Throughout the day and into the night various birds sing their songs, beginning with the woodpecker who taps a pole ten times and counting down to the hummingbird who calls once.





bob and otto

Bob and Otto
Robert O. Bruel; pictures by Nick Bruel
Otto the worm is shocked to discover that his best friend Bob is ally a caterpillar who emerges one day as a butterfly.






Nick Bruel
A mother kangaroo and various woodland animals coach her joey as she attempts her first jump. Great ending with a pop-up finale.






Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
Bill Martin, Jr.; Illustrated by Eric Carle
Children see a variety of animals, each one a different color.
Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art:






The Carrot Seed
Ruth Krauss; pictures by Crockett Johnson
Despite everyone’s dire predictions, a little boy has faith in the carrot seed he plants. Quick read, but great for illustrating tenacity and botany!
Here’s a wonderful article about the author by Maurice Sendak.






Each Living Thing
Joanne Ryder; illustrations by Ashley Wolff
Celebrates the creatures of the earth, from spiders dangling in their webs to owls hooting and hunting out of sight, and asks that we respect and care for them.
Guide to discussion:
List of books that inspire compassion:






Exactly the Opposite
Tana Hoban
Photographs of familiar outdoor scenes illustrate pairs of opposites.





first the egg

First the Egg
Laura Vaccaro Seeger
2007 Caldecott Award Winner.  Die-cut pages show the transformations of various animals and objects, such as a seed to a flower, paint to a picture, and a caterpillar to a butterfly.
Author’s website.
List of nature picture books.




five senses


The Five Senses
Keith Faulkner and Jonathan Lambert
Pull the tabs to see animals use their senses to learn about the world around them. Best for a small group who can take turns.





good night gorilla


Good Night, Gorilla
Peggy Rathmann
An unobservant zookeeper is followed home by all the animals he thinks he has left behind in the zoo. Good for a fun read and if you are planning a trip to the zoo.




how to paint


How to Paint the Portrait of a Bird
Jacques Prevert; illustrations and translation by Mordicai Gerstein
A child paints the beginning of a picture and goes outside to wait for a bird to approach and a special thing to happen.




in the middle of the puddleSQ

In the Middle of the Puddle
Mike Thaler
A frog and a turtle watch the rain turn their puddle into an ocean before the sun comes along and returns things to normal. Good for vocabulary of puddle, pond, pool, lake, sea, ocean.







David Ezra Stein
A bear who has never experienced autumn before is puzzled by the falling leaves, unsure whether he should try to put them back or use them as a bed for a nap.





Little BatSq

Littlebat’s Halloween Story
Diane Mayr; illustrated by Gideon Kendall
Littlebat lives in the library attic and loves to listen to the stories being told in the room below. Mother Bat tells him he has to wait until just the right time to get close enough to hear them better. Good example of the science of seasons and bat life.
Organization for Bat Conservation:




little blue


Little blue and little yellow : A Story for Pippo and Ann and Other Children
Leo Lionni
Little blue and its best friend Little Yellow hug each other so hard they become green.
A claymation movie of the story:




little red hen


The Little Red Hen
Byron Barton
The little red hen finds none of her lazy friends willing to help her plant, harvest, or grind wheat into flour, but all are eager to eat the bread she makes from it. Good for discussions about growing seasons and about sharing.




make way for ducklingsSQUARE

Make Way for Ducklings
Robert McCloskey
Mr. and Mrs. Mallard proudly return to their home in the Boston Public Garden with their eight offspring. A classic with a good narrative, lovely illustrations and happy ending.





Our Natural HOmes Sq


Our Natural Homes: Exploring Terrestrial Biomes of North and South America
Sneed B. Collard
Defines the earth’s land ecosystems through the characteristic plants and animals found in each.





poets bird garden


A Poet’s Bird Garden
Laura Nyman Montenegro
Chirpie the bird escapes from her cage and flies into a tree; but a group of poets decide that the best way to entice her down is to create a garden full of seeds, water, hiding places, and materials for building a nest. Good for April, National Poetry month.




Pouch Sq


David Ezra Stein

A baby kangaroo takes his first tentative hops outside of his mama’s pouch, meeting other creatures and growing bolder each time. Perfect for real little ones who are exploring separation from their parents.
Author’s site, displays how he created this book:






Written and illustrated by Manya Stojic
Good for study of the five senses.  The animals of the African savanna use their senses to predict and then enjoy the rain.




Red-eyed tree frog SQ


Red-Eyed Tree Frog
Story by Joy Cowley; illustrated with photographs by Nic Bishop
A favorite non-fiction read-aloud. This frog found in the rain forest of Central America spends the night searching for food while also being careful not to become dinner for some other animal. Teaches concepts of prey and predator. An afterword provides a good overview of facts on the subject.
Learn more about red-eyed tree frogs:


salamander room

The Salamander Room
Anne Mazer; illustrated by Steve Johnson & Lou Fancher
A young boy finds a salamander and thinks of the many things he can do to make a perfect home for it.
San Diego Zoo salamander page:





sam and the firefly Square

Sam and the Firefly
Written and illustrated by P.D. Eastman
Sam is an owl.  He meets Gus, a firefly, who does skywriting at night and uses his talents to play tricks.





subway copy


Christoph Niemann
A favorite!  Absolutely engaging, especially for children who ride the subway.  We follow two boys and their father as they spend a rainy day riding the various lines of the New York City subway system.  Here is the author’s blog about creating the book.




 subway sq

Anastasia Suen; illustrated by Karen Katz
A young girl and her mother enjoy a ride uptown on a city subway. Good for young ones and train crazy boys and girls.






Subway Sparrow
Leyla Torres
Text primarily in English, with some Spanish and Polish. Although the passengers of the D train speak different languages, they work together to rescue a frightened bird and help it to be free.
Author’s site with suggested activities for this book.



tiny seed sq

The Tiny Seed
Eric Carle
A simple description of a flowering plant’s life cycle through the seasons.
Ideas for using this book in the classroom:
Time lapse radish seeds sprouting, top and roots growing, 46 seconds:





tree that time built

The Tree that Time Built: a celebration of nature, science, and imagination
Selected by Mary Ann Hoberman and Linda Winston
Collects over one hundred poems from various authors that explore the worlds of nature, science, and the imagination, and includes an audio CD of poets performing their own work.





Urban Roosts Sq

Urban Roosts: Where Birds Nest in the City
Barbara Bash
Describes the birds that make their homes in the heart of the city and examines how they have adjusted to such a harsh urban environment.
A good site about nests and mating: