I’m pleased to be a stop on author Laurie Wallmark’s blog tour to help spread the word about her debut children’s picture book biography Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine. Laurie is here to talk a bit about how to use picture books to introduce STEM content to young readers. Sounds like an interesting topic, and perfect for teachers and parents now that the kids have just begun another year of school. Before we hear from Laurie, let’s find out more about her intriguing new book, Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine, which by the way, earned a starred review from Kirkus Reviews!
ADA BYRON LOVELACE AND THE THINKING MACHINE (Creston Books, October 2015) is a picture-book biography of the world’s first computer programmer. Ada was born two hundred years ago, long before the invention of the modern electronic computer. At a time when girls and women had few options outside the home, Ada followed her dreams and studied mathematics. This book, by Laurie Wallmark and April Chu, tells the story of a remarkable woman and her work. Kirkus Reviews describes the book as a “splendidly inspiring introduction to an unjustly overlooked woman.”
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and Trade Picture Books
by Laurie Wallmark
A picture book is the perfect medium to introduce STEM content to younger readers. A STEM-related book, either fiction or nonfiction, can do so much more than simply explain concepts and facts. Books of this type can increase a child’s interest in STEM by making the topics interesting and, more importantly, fun. In addition, STEM-related picture books can help children with their schoolwork. Students can use these books for school reports and to fulfill common core requirements.
The inclusion of STEM concepts and facts in a picture book can add to the story. A character might use math skills to calculate the probability of a project’s success. If the number turns out to be low, this will add more tension in the story. By using the scientific method, a character might more easily solve a mystery. A laboratory setting could provide a unique environment for the action of a story.
But including STEM in a picture book is of little to no use if the child (or the adult reader!) can’t understand the concepts and facts being presented. Luckily, because of the very nature of picture books, there are many opportunities to explain complex and/or unfamiliar material in a way accessible to children. Explanations can be included within the text by using techniques such as: synonyms, analogies, step-by-step instructions, and word choice. Illustration and book design can showcase STEM content with diagrams, lift-the-flap, and other methods. This material can even be found somewhere else entirely, like within the back matter or on an included CD or DVD.
Kids’ books about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) are anything but boring these days. Whether fiction or nonfiction, trade picture books need to be able to grab a child’s interest. The challenge with STEM-related picture books is to not let the technical information overshadow the story. Concepts and facts are useless if a child does not want to read the book. The joy of STEM in picture books is its ability to entertain children, yet still expand their knowledge and interest in science, technology, engineering, and math.
Laurie Wallmark writes exclusively for children. She can’t imagine having to restrict herself to only one type of book, so she writes picture books, middle-grade novels, poetry, and nonfiction. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts. When not writing or studying, Laurie teaches computer science at a local community college, both on campus and in prison. The picture book biography, Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine (Creston Books, October 2015), is Laurie’s first book.
To connect with Laurie Wallmark:
Check out the other stops on the tour:
September 12, 2015 – Interview
www.flowering-minds.com Flowering Minds (Darshana Khiani)
September 15, 2015 – Guest post (STEM and Trade Picture Books)
https://frogonablog.net/ Frog on a Blog (Lauri Fortino)
September 22, 2015 – Interview
http://c-c-hall.com/ Writing and Fishing (Cathy Hall)
September 28, 2015 – Guest Post (About Writing Ada)
http://mybrainonbooks.blogspot.com/ My Brain on Books (Joanne Fritz)
October 2, 2015 – Interview
https://stilladreamer.wordpress.com/ Still a Dreamer (Jeanne Balsam)
October 6, 2015 – Guest Post (Writing About Strong Women)
https://robinnewmanbooks.wordpress.com/ Robin Newman Books
October 9, 2015 – Guest Post (Five Detours on the Road to Publication)
http://www.yvonneventresca.com/blog.html Yvonne Ventresca’s Blog
October 13, 2015 – Guest Post (Writing Firsts)
https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/ Writing and Illustrating (Kathy Temean)
October 15, 2015 – Guest Post (Acrostic Poem)
http://geekmom.com/ Geek Mom
October 18, 2015 – Interview
http://www.thechildrensbookreview.com/ The Children’s Book Review
October 20, 2015 – Guest Post (Using Ada in the Classroom)
https://rlkurstedt.wordpress.com/ Kaleidoscope (Roseanne Kurstedt)
October 26, 2015 – Interview
https://darlenebeckjacobson.wordpress.com/ Gold From the Dust (Darlene Beck Jacobson)
November 6, 2015 – Guest Post (Five Favorite STEM Women in History)
http://www.viviankirkfield.com Picture Books Help Kids Soar (Vivian Kirkfield)
November 6, 2015 – Interview
http://info.vcfa.edu/vcfa-launch-pad/ VCFA Launch Pad