STEM: Nonfiction and Fiction

Mathical Book Prize

One of my students is working on a STEM fiction title. Frequently it is easier to see what makes nonfction STEM. It is about biology or chemistry. It explains mathematics. Fiction? That can be a lot trickier. If a character is a mathematician, is that enough?

(cricket cricket cricket)

Fortunately I spotted an announcement for the Mathical Prize 2021 winners. Mathical is awarded by the Mathematical Science Research Institute (MSRI). I’ll let them explain the criteria in their own words:

Math is more than numbers and equations! The Mathical Book Prize is an annual award for fiction and nonfiction books that inspire children of all ages to see math in the world around them.

That sounds fairly broad and you’ll see that it is in the winners for 2021.

2021 Winners

For Pre-Kindergarten: Lia & Luís: Who Has More? by Ana Crespo (Charlesbridge).

For Grades K-2: The Animals Would Not Sleep, by Sara Levine (Charlesbridge).

For Grades 3-5: Seven Golden Rings: A Tale of Music and Math, by Rajani LaRocca (Lee & Low Books).

For Grades 6-8: How We Got to the Moon: The People, Technology, and Daring Feats of Science Behind Humanity’s Greatest Adventure by John Rocco (Crown Books for Young Readers / Random House Children’s Books).

For Grades 9-12: Grasping Mysteries: Girls Who Loved Math, by Jeannine Atkins (Simon & Schuster)

I don’t know about you but these books are obviously math related with one exception – The Animals Would Not Sleep. But when I looked it up all became clear. The young protagonist can’t get his stuffed animals to go to bed unless he groups them into the sets that make them happy. Ah – It is about sets and sorting.

Stories that inspire math and mathematical thinking don’t have to be super complex, not when you are writing for younger readers. But honestly? I’m just happy to see what my son called “smart books” in the world.