When we think of promoting STEM books for kids, we usually think of nonfiction. Fiction can play a role as well, however, especially for the middle-grade reader.
In the middle-grade novel Something Stinks! by Gail Hedrick the main character, Emily, is an aspiring writer who finds out that science can help answer tough questions.
A lot of things change during middle school. Emily is discovering that her friends are looking and behaving in unexpected ways, and she isn’t sure how to react. On top of that, piles of fish are dying in the river near her uncle and aunt’s farm, and Emily wants to know why. Is it run off from local farms, pesticides from a nearby golf course, or pollutants from a local factory that are causing the fish to die? Will she be able to solve the mystery without getting into trouble and losing all her friends?
This is the type of book that is likely to inspire readers who might otherwise avoid STEM to give it a chance because it reveals how science can have important real-world applications. At the same time the characters are not hardcore science whizzes, but kids who many middle-grade readers will find easy to recognize, with problems that are relatable.
The waters are not always smooth as author sets up the characters and their conflicts in the beginning of the book. Once the story was underway, however, it becomes a compelling page turner. In fact, Something Stinks! was chosen by the National Science Teachers Association – Children’s Book Council’s Outstanding Science Committee as an Outstanding Science Trade Book in 2014.
Want to encourage a middle grade reader to appreciate science? Give Something Stinks! a try.
- Age Range: 9 – 12 years
- Paperback: 183 pages
- Publisher: Tumblehome Learning, Inc. (April 1, 2013)
- ISBN-10: 0985000899
- ISBN-13: 978-0985000899
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Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.