Children are natural-born scientists—continually manipulating their physical environments and observing the results, appreciating natural phenomena that adults rush past, and spontaneously engaging in play that (without their realizing it) tests scientific principles. Unfortunately, by the time young people reach high school, their interests in STEM classes and careers—as well as self-confidence in their skills—have often declined. However, there has never been a better time for locating YA nonfiction that can revive an interest in these important and endlessly exciting subjects, providing readers with inspiring role models, connecting STEM topics with relevant contemporary issues, and supplementing school curricula.
Science and the Skeptic: Discerning Fact From Fiction by Marc Zimmer (Twenty-First Century/Lerner, Feb. 1): Science illiteracy is rampant in social media, political discourse, and even journalism, making this volume critically important for figuring out which sources are trustworthy and how to make sense of a barrage of conflicting information.
Become an App Inventor: Your Guide to Designing, Building, and Sharing Apps by Karen Lang, Selim Tezel, MIT App Inventor Project, and MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MITeen Press/Candlewick, Feb. 8): Stepping into the world of programming opens up exciting avenues for young people to apply technology to the pursuit of their passions. This manual clearly and systematically takes teens through projects of increasing complexity.
Where Have All the Birds Gone?: Nature in Crisis by Rebecca E. Hirsch (Twenty-First Century/Lerner, March 1): This concise and eloquent book persuasively situates birds as linchpins in the natural world whose survival is both critical to the well-being of humans and other species and a barometer of broader threats.
Glowing Bunnies!?: Why We’re Making Hybrids, Chimeras, and Clones by Jeff Campbell (Zest Books, April 3): This entertaining, accessible read offers an overview of the moral quandaries scientists face as they make decisions about the animal world in terms of genetic technology and its uses in husbandry, conservation, and related fields.
The Code Breaker—Young Readers Edition: Jennifer Doudna and the Race To Understand Our Genetic Code by Walter Isaacson with Sarah Durand (Simon & Schuster, April 26): The more we learn about and are able to manipulate our genes, the greater the ethical dilemmas we face. This sophisticated work encourages readers, alongside noted scientists, to grapple with challenging questions.
Attention Hijacked: Using Mindfulness To Reclaim Your Brain From Tech by Erica B. Marcus, illustrated by Athena Currier (Zest Books, May 3): Technology is nearly inescapable, but conversations about its impact can be simplistic and alarmist; this book presents a balanced approach to help readers maximize its benefits, better understand its design, and minimize ill effects.
Save the People!: Halting Human Extinction by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by Nicole Miles (Little, Brown, May 10): This remarkable book discusses the terrifying topic of challenges to life on Earth in ways that help readers feel informed, encouraged, and empowered to do what they can to have a positive impact.
Queer Ducks (and Other Animals): The Natural World of Animal Sexuality by Eliot Schrefer, illustrated by Jules Zuckerberg (Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins, May 24): As debates about human sexuality heat up, with confusion and misinformation about the science abounding, this fascinating work sheds valuable light on the sexual behavior of nonhuman animals, reframing conceptions of what is “natural.”
Gamer Girls: 25 Women Who Built the Video Game Industry by Mary Kenney, illustrated by Salini Perera (Running Press Kids, July 19): Misogyny in the gaming world is no secret; this inspiring volume offers additional narratives—short biographies of women who have built successful, influential careers in an industry in which more diverse voices are desperately needed.
Laura Simeon is a young readers’ editor.