STEAM is fun, STEAM is everywhere, and STEAM is for everyone!


Charlesbridge has partnered with Count Play Explore, an initiative led by the Office of Fresno County Superintendent of Schools, Early Care and Education Department, to develop a series of fiction picture books and board books about science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) in both English and Spanish.

These playful, child-led stories will feature characters who use scientific or mathematical thinking to solve everyday problems and answer questions that matter to them. They will showcase a wide variety of children with different abilities from diverse backgrounds and family structures.

STEAMWORKS will introduce STEAM topics to young children in a fun, engaging way and foster enthusiasm and confidence in their capabilities as powerful thinkers, problem solvers, and innovators.

Our mission is to show children of all backgrounds and experiences that STEAM is fun, STEAM is everywhere, and STEAM is for everyone!

What We're Looking For

We are seeking engaging, character-driven stories that incorporate STEAM topics into everyday situations. We want to see a wide variety of children portrayed as powerful thinkers, problem solvers, and innovators.

A STEAMWORKS book will:

● emphasize the importance of growth mindset, persistence, productive struggle, and learning from mistakes as key components of learning

● model the scientific method of exploration by asking questions, seeking solutions, testing and communicating ideas, collecting data, and drawing conclusions

● empower children of all backgrounds and abilities to see themselves as capable in STEAM-based fields by portraying diverse families and children as characters, with a focus on realistic portrayals that avoid stereotyping child and adult interests

● appeal to both children and adults, offering clever concepts, humor, and extensions into everyday life

● portray realistic and relatable child characters who take the lead in the story, engaging in discovery, innovation, and problem-solving

● be grounded in everyday activities, address common questions and interests of young children, and revolve around the child protagonist gaining a new understanding or abilities related to STEAM subjects

● promote and uplift positive relationships, interactions, and social-emotional development


Please submit your complete manuscript as an attachment (Word doc or PDF) to Alexandra McKenzie at by September 1, 2024. Include “STEAMWORKS Submission” in the subject line. While a STEAM background is not required to write for this series, please include any relevant STEAM-related experience in your email. We will respond to all submissions within two to three months of receipt.

Important Notes

We are seeking only realistic, contemporary fiction manuscripts. Our target audiences are children ages 0–3 (board books) and 4–7 (picture books) and their caregivers.

We will consider submissions with human characters only.

Across the STEAMWORKS collection, books will represent a wide range of children, families, and family structures from differing cultural, racial, and linguistic backgrounds, portrayed by authors who share their experiences. The collection will also feature children with different abilities, strengths, and perspectives.

We prefer picture book manuscripts to be written in prose (not poetry) and about 500–750 words.

Avoid these elements:

Talking Animals: Animals should not be anthropomorphized. Any animal characters should be represented realistically.

Incomplete Explanations or Solutions: Ideally, the problem should be solved by the child protagonist, and the solution should be clearly and efficiently explained.

Textbook Feel: The book should not feel like a textbook but rather engage readers with narrative storytelling. Only stories with an engaging plot line will be considered.

Classroom-Based Stories: We would like to see stories grounded in dynamic, real world scenarios outside of the traditional classroom setting. 

We are not interested in counting, number recognition, biographical accounts of scientists and mathematicians, or climate activism books at this time. See below for a list of topics we are interested in and links to the California Foundations and Standards.


We are interested in STEAM topics that align with California Foundations and Standards for Science, Math, and Computer Science, such as cause and effect, observation and investigation, and gathering information using the senses. Additionally, we are seeking topics that align with the California Arts Standards as they relate to math and science. Stories may incorporate the A in STEAM as an essential component of the story; for instance, the child protagonist might explore patterns through dance, investigate geometry through paper cutting, create a drawing to help solve a problem, or write about and sketch their findings in a journal.

You can find a detailed list of the topics we are most interested in here. See next for links to the California Foundations and Standards.

California Foundations and Standards

Computer Science

Computer Science Standards for California Public Schools, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve

Seven Core Practices (p. 12; p. 18 in the PDF)

K-Grade 2 Computer Science Standards (p. 30; p. 36 in the PDF)

Grades 3-5 Computer Science Standards (p. 50; p. 56 in the PDF) 


California Infant/Toddler Learning and Development Foundations (p. 59; p. 77 in the PDF)

Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1, Foundations in Mathematics (p. 143; p. 156 in the PDF)

California Common Core State Standards, Mathematics

Standards for Mathematical Practice (p. 6; p. 13 in the PDF)

Kindergarten Standards (p. 10; p. 17 in the PDF)

Grade 1 Standards (p. 14; p. 21 in the PDF)

Grade 2 Standards (p. 18; p. 25 in the PDF)

Grade 3 Standards (p. 23; p. 30 in the PDF)



California Arts Standards

Dance (p. 23; p. 35 in the PDF)

Media Arts (p. 57; p. 69 in the PDF)

Music (p. 83; 95 in the PDF)

Theatre (p. 171; p. 183 in the PDF)

Visual Arts (p. 199; p. 211 in the PDF)

Sample Books

The goal of STEAMWORKS is to find fiction picture books and board books with diverse characters and compelling stories that seamlessly integrate STEAM topics. Below are some published examples that fit various aspects of our vision for the series.

  • The Animals Would Not Sleep!
    by Sara Levine,
    illustrated by Marta Álvarez Miguéns

    STEAM Topics: Sorting & classifying

    In this bedtime adventure, Marco must sort his stuffed animals into bins so they can all go to bed, but no matter what classifications he uses, someone isn’t happy! We like how this story is playful, imaginative, and child-driven and follows Marco as he persists in using scientific thinking to solve the problem. 

  • Rafa Counts on Papá
    by Joe Cepeda

    STEAM Topics:
    Measuring & comparing

    This sweet story of the love between a father and son follows Rafa and Papá as they measure and compare the things in their world. We like that the STEAM activities completed by the characters are easily repeatable by readers at home as well as the emphasis on the parent and child interactions.

  • Bird Count
    by Susan Edwards Richmond, illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman

    STEAM Topics: Observing using the five senses, counting & recording

    This book follows citizen scientists as they use their senses to identify and count birds in their area. We like how this book integrates both math and science and includes visuals for data collection as part of the illustrations. We also like that it shows ways that ordinary families can get involved in scientific investigations.

  • Something Great by Jeanette Bradley

    STEAM Topics: Growth mindset, creativity & persistence 

    This story follows Quinn as they create Something Great in their workshop but struggle to get others to understand the imaginative possibilities. We like the integration of creativity and imagination into STEAM-based exploration, the way Quinn sees possibilities that are missed by their family, and the positive portrayal of friendship.

  • What Will Fit? by Grace Lin

    STEAM Topics:
    Spatial relationships & comparison

    In this math-focused board book, Olivia is searching for something just the right size to fill her basket during a trip to the farmers market. We like that this story encapsulates a realistic problem for this age group and shows the child engaging in repeated trial and error as she seeks a solution.

  • Hiking Day
    by Anne Rockwell,
    illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell

    STEAM Topics:
    Mapping, positional words & observation using the five senses

    This story follows a young girl and her family as they go hiking up a nearby mountain. We like that this story shows a family engaging in an everyday, accessible activity and brings in integrated science and math topics without being overly didactic. 


Please reach out to Alexandra McKenzie, STEAMWORKS Program Director, at