Women in Science

These books celebrate women who broke barriers and made important contributions in their field — from astronaut Ellen Ochoa to NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson to World War II pilot Maggie Gee.

For more great stories on women's history and books about science, see related booklists on Reading Rockets and the Women in STEAM booklist from Horn Book.

Amelia to Zora

Illustrated by: Megan Halsey
Age Level: 6-9

"An introduction to 26 diverse, 20th-century women who have made a difference in such varied fields as the arts, sports, journalism, science, and entertainment. The entries include Dolores Huerta and Frida Kahlo." — School Library Journal

Astronaut Ellen Ochoa (Stem Trailblazer Biographies)

Age Level: 6-9

When Ellen Ochoa was young, male American astronauts walked on the moon. But girls were not allowed to be astronauts. Girls didn't often study science either—but Ochoa didn't let that stop her. In high school, Ochoa loved math and science. In college, she studied physics and engineering, and later she became a scientist and inventor. Eventually NASA began accepting women into their astronaut training program. While there, Ochoa developed technology, became the first female Hispanic American astronaut, and logged 1,000 hours in outer space.

Hidden Figures

Illustrated by: Laura Freeman
Age Level: 6-9

Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden were good at math…really good. They participated in some of NASA's greatest successes, like providing the calculations for America's first journeys into space. And they did so during a time when being black and a woman limited what they could do. But they worked hard. They persisted. And they used their genius minds to change the world.

Keeping the Rope Straight: Annie Dodge Wauneka's Life of Service to the Navajo

Age Level: 9-12

Annie Wauneka devoted her life to helping her people. Inspired by the example of her father, Annie immersed herself in tribal politics and became a leader in the battle against tuberculosis. Annie melded traditional Diné (Navajo) culture with the modern world and brought about unprecedented improvements in the healthcare and education available to her people. Her years of service earned her the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the title "Our Legendary Mother" from the Diné Nation.

Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around the World

Age Level: 6-9

Featuring the true stories of 35 women creators, ranging from writers to inventors, artists to scientists, Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around the World inspires as it educates. Readers will meet trailblazing women like Mary Blair, an American modernist painter who had a major influence on how color was used in early animated films, actor/inventor Hedy Lamarr, environmental activist Wangari Maathai, architect Zaha Hadid, filmmaker Maya Deren, and physicist Chien-Shiung Wu.

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History

Age Level: 6-9

An important book for all ages, Little Leaders educates and inspires as it relates true stories of forty trailblazing black women in American history. Illuminating text paired with irresistible illustrations bring to life both iconic and lesser-known female figures of Black history such as abolitionist Sojourner Truth, pilot Bessie Coleman, chemist Alice Ball, politician Shirley Chisholm, mathematician Katherine Johnson, poet Maya Angelou, and filmmaker Julie Dash. A board book version of this book is also available.

Look Up! Henrietta Leavitt, Pioneering Woman Astronomer

Illustrated by: Raúl Colón
Age Level: 6-9

Meet Henrietta Leavitt, a 19th-century scientific pioneer. From careful observations, Leavitt discovered that the brightness of a star determines its distance from Earth, helping us better understand the vastness of the universe. Warm colored pencil and watercolor illustrations by Colón create a contemplative mood. Back matter includes quotations, a glossary, information about other female astronomers, and more.

Native Defenders of the Environment

Age Level: 9-12

Product Description: From the Native Trailblazers series comes a book with the stories of twelve brave people who work tirelessly to save our environment. Readers will learn about Grace Thorpe, who worked to keep Native reservations from becoming nuclear waste dumps; Tom Goldtooth, the director of the Indigenous Environmental Network; and Ben Powless, a founding organizer of the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition.

Path to the Stars: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist

Age Level: 12-14
Language: Spanish: Bilingual Text

This inspiring memoir for young readers tells the story of Sylvia Acevedo, a Latina rocket scientist whose early life was transformed by joining the Girl Scouts and who currently serves as CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA. A meningitis outbreak in their underprivileged neighborhood left Sylvia's family forever altered. As she struggled in the aftermath of loss, her life transformed when she joined the Brownies. The Girl Scouts taught her how to take control of her world and nourished her love of numbers and science.

Rock Star #1 (Jada Jones)

Age Level: 9-12

When Jada Jones's best friend moves away, school feels like the last place she wants to be. She'd much rather wander outside looking for cool rocks to add to her collection, since finding rocks is much easier than finding friends. So when Jada's teacher announces a class project on rocks and minerals, Jada finally feels like she's in her element. The only problem: one of her teammates doesn't seem to like any of Jada's ideas. She doesn't seem to like Jada all that much, either. Can Jada figure out a way to make a winning science project and a new friend?  

Summer Birds: The Butterflies of Maria Merian

Illustrated by: Julie Paschkis
Age Level: 3-6

Butterflies were once thought to be "beasts of the devil." Maria Merian, a perceptive young German naturalist, knew better. She recorded her notes and drawings on the butterflies' transformation in secret so that she would not be accused of witchcraft and later became a famous scientist and artist who helped the rest of the world understand natural life cycles. Margarita Engle brings her extraordinary story to life, accompanied by Julie Paschkis' gorgeous illustrations.

Wangari's Trees of Peace

"Wangari lives under an umbrella of green trees in the shadow of Mount Kenya in Africa." So begins this tribute to Wangari Maathai, a young woman who saw deforestation turn the lush lands of Kenya into a barren desert. Wangari began to plant seedlings and encouraged the women around her to do the same. By 2004, 30 million trees had been planted and Wangari won the Nobel Peace Prize. Jeanette Winter skillfully presents both Wangari's successes and challenges through spare text and bold illustrations. An author's note provides additional information about Wangari's life story.