Quick Pick: Laura Gehl’s Baby Scientist Series

Fun books about STEM Careers to add to your toddler’s TBR Pile

by Gillian King-Cargile, STEM Read Founder and Director

Elementary School students are getting all the love and resources during the quarantine, but what are we doing for babies and toddlers? Our early childhood kiddos need a quarantine reading list too! My three-year-old is hooked on the recent series Baby Scientist by Laura Gehl.

Gehl earned a B.A. in psychology from Yale and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Georgetown and has written several books and articles to help learners of all ages explore science concepts and careers. Her adorable board books use playful descriptions and engaging art to help young children learn more about STEM careers.

Baby science books are all the rage right now. The series that started this trend and set the bar for all others is Ruth Spiro’s Baby Loves Science series, which introduces complex concepts, everything from gravity to quantum physics, using simple, real-life examples that young children can relate to. In these books, babies learn about gravity by dropping food off their highchair trays. They learn about quantum physics and the subjective nature of observing life on the quantum scale by peeking into a box to see if a kitty is awake or asleep.

Not for nothing, Spiro’s Baby Loves Quantum Physics is also a great primer for anyone watching Alex Garland’s series Devs on FX for Hulu. You can hear my interview with him on the STEM Read Podcast.

What I like about the Gehl’s Baby Scientist books is that they don’t replicate Ruth’s series; they build on it, giving information about the tasks that different types of STEM experts perform. They also serve as a great tool to help grow your young child’s curiosity and incorporate STEM into playtime. You can use these books as a jumping-off point to role-play what scientists do by making costumes and make-believing scenarios you see in the books.

  • My daughter is hooked on Baby Astronaut. She demanded I make her a spacesuit out of cardboard boxes and duct tape so she could see the stars. She nearly lost her cardboard helmet when I told her she could watch people read books in space. NASA’s Story Time From Space shows astronauts reading books like Suzanne Slade’s Astronaut Annie and Andrea Beaty’s Ada Twist, Scientist while onboard the International Space Station.
  • If Baby Oceanographer floats your kid’s boat they can slurp their cereal while you stream breakfast videos with the St. Louis Aquarium. They’ve been using Facebook Live to stream everything from breakfast with the otters to veterinarian talks. After the livestream, the aquarium posts worksheets and additional resources on their page.
  • If you’re planning on growing a victory garden this spring, plant some new ideas in your child’s mind with Baby Botanist and then start digging in your back yard or perking up your potted plants together. You can even try composting with this video from PBS or just look out the window and make observations together as buds form on trees, grass gets greener, and flowers push their way out of the earth.
  • If your little one loves dinosaurs (and who doesn’t?!) dig into the latest book in the series, Baby Paleontologist. You can hide toy dinosaurs in a sandbox or even a pan of rice or flour and have your child excavate them. You can also virtually visit Chicago’s Field Museum, which has great online resources, games, and even interactive chats with Máximo, the world’s largest dinosaur fossil.

While many of us are home trying to manage e-learning, e-working, and the everyday strain of the global pandemic, one thing should be clear: We’re going to need more scientists and doctors and STEM people who can save us with their smarts. It’s never too early to get your little learners hooked on STEM and help them step into learning!