STEM Friday

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Books

Top Awards for STEM Titles


Top Awards for STEM Titles

By Melissa Stewart

While I was presenting at the SCBWI summer conference in Los Angeles, I couldn’t help but ask my audience a question I’ve been thinking about for a long time: Why don’t STEM titles seem to win the BIG awards in children’s literature as often as social studies titles? One person in the audience was so intrigued by my question that she asked me to lunch. Needless to say, we had quite a discussion.

When I tossed out that question on the spur of the moment, I didn’t have any data to back me up. (I know what you’re thinking. What kind of scientists am I?) But recently, I’ve looked back over past winners of the Newbery, Caldecott, and Sibert and tallied the nonfiction winners.

The Newbery was created in 1922, and the Caldecott was created in 1938. I reviewed the medalists and honor winners since 1995. The Silbert was created in 2001, so I tallied the winners since its inception.

Here are the results:

biography 0 2 6 8
history 0 1 5 6
STEM 0 0 1 1
Newbery   Honor CaldecottHonor SibertHonor Total
biography 3 10 16 29
history 7 0 9 16
STEM 1 3 7 11

I have to admit that when I’ve read through these lists in the past, I came away with the impression that history titles had STEM beat hands down. But a closer look shows that history is only the clear leader among Newberys. Biographies are the big winners overall with a total score of 37 (8 medalists, 29 honors) overall. While history (22 overall) and STEM (12 overall) trail behind.

Then I took a closer look at the people featured in the biographies. It turns out that 23 are key historical figures and 8 are scientists. The rest are artists or musicians.

So why don’t STEM boosk win their fair share of accolades? What do you think?

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5 thoughts on “Top Awards for STEM Titles

  1. Melissa,

    Thank you for the analysis, but I think your table is missing a few numbers in the Newbery column. 🙂

    • Thanks, Roberta. I forgot to include the Honor table. All the info is there now, but I can’t make the second table look at nice as the first one. Not sure why.

  2. Interesting information, Melissa. My post at SimplyScience is Busy as a Bee, a Kingfisher introductory reader with good bee information.

  3. Thanks for bringing attention to this subject, Melissa. I would also like to see a nonfiction early reader category for the Cybils and for the ALA awards. This week, I am featuring a terrific book called Infinity and Me:

  4. great data! thanks for putting it into a visual context for us.
    Over at Archimedes Notebook I’ve got links to magic – er, science that “looks” like magic.