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STEAM Stories: The Backyard Build

Author: Jonathan Litton
Lower Age: 4
Upper Age: 6
Year Added: 2019

The Backyard Build, a short picture book for ages 3 and up, is written by Jonathan Litton and illustrated by Magali Mansilla. The book follows Max and Suzy, a couple of kids who have a beautiful day on their hands and nothing to do. They see a problem here- all their toys aren’t working! Their swing’s broken, kite is lost, and their soccer ball is out of air. In order to solve the problem, they collaborate with an adult to brainstorm ideas of what to do, coming up with a solution: build a playground!  For each part of the playground, they look at what is needed to build the part and test possible solutions. As they test these playground items, they run into other problems, which inspires them to iterate and improve the playground items to make them work. For example, when they built a slide, they found that the slope was too shallow to slide down, so they made the beginning of the slide higher to make it easier to slide down. This book is short, simple, and appealingly illustrated, and starts children thinking about how to build things and making engineering design decisions.