Women in Science and Math
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, Women in STEAM booklist from Horn Book, and 9 Nonfiction Titles that Showcase Pioneering Women in STEM from School Library Journal.
Note: For more about the late, great NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, see this resource list from A Mighty Girl.
Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream
1961. Nearly two decades before Sally Ride — there was Jerrie Cobb. Cobb was one of the top female pilots in the country and completed all the astronaut testing the Mercury 7 men did. She excelled at all the tests. Proved she had the Right Stuff. Twelve other female pilots followed her, passing the tests they took with flying colors. When they were told there was no room for women in the space program, they took they're cause to Congress.
Amelia to Zora
"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)
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 eitherbut 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.
Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer
Cherokee author Traci Sorell and Métis illustrator Natasha Donovan trace Ross's journey from being the only girl in a high school math class to becoming a teacher to pursuing an engineering degree, joining the top-secret Skunk Works division of Lockheed, and being a mentor for Native Americans and young women interested in engineering. In addition, the narrative highlights Cherokee values including education, working cooperatively, remaining humble, and helping ensure equal opportunity and education for all.
Counting the Stars: The Story of Katherine Johnson, NASA Mathematician
Before John Glenn orbited the Earth or astronauts walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as "human computers" used their knowledge, pencils, adding machines, and writing paper to calculate the orbital mechanics needed to launch spacecraft. Katherine Johnson was one of these mathematicians who used trajectories and complex equations to chart the space program.
Fly, Girl, Fly!: Shaesta Waiz Soars around the World
Shaesta Waiz, a refugee from Afghanistan, dreamed of doing great things. But first she had to leave a refugee camp with her family to make a new life in America, overcome gender stereotypes, be the first in her family to go to college, and overcome her fear of flying. And she did.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Nuestra América: 30 Inspiring Latinas/Latinos Who Have Shaped the United States
Nuestra América highlights the inspiring stories of thirty Latina/o/xs throughout history and their incredible contributions to the cultural, social, and political character of the United States.
The stories in this book cover each figure's cultural background, childhood, and the challenges and opportunities they met in pursuit of their goals. A glossary of terms and discussion question-filled reading guide, created by the Smithsonian Latino Center, encourage further research and exploration.
One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia
Plastic bags are cheap and easy to use. But what happens when a bag breaks or is no longer needed? In Njau, Gambia, people simply dropped the bags and went on their way. One plastic bag became two. Then ten. Then a hundred. The bags accumulated in ugly heaps alongside roads. Water pooled in them, bringing mosquitoes and disease. Some bags were burned, leaving behind a terrible smell. Some were buried, but they strangled gardens. They killed livestock that tried to eat them. Something had to change. Isatou Ceesay was that change.
Path to the Stars: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist
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.
Planting Peace: The Story of Wangari Maathai
This picture book tells the inspiring story of Wangari Maathai, women’s rights activist and one of the first environmental warriors. Wangari began the Green Belt Movement in Kenya in the 1960s, which focused on planting trees, environmental conservation, and women’s rights. She inspired thousands across Africa to plant 30 million trees in 30 years and was the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom
When Wu Chien Shiung was born in China 100 years ago, most girls did not attend school; no one considered them as smart as boys. But her parents felt differently. Giving her a name meaning “Courageous Hero,” they encouraged her love of learning and science. This engaging biography follows Wu Chien Shiung as she battles sexism and racism to become what Newsweek magazine called the “Queen of Physics” for her work on beta decay.
Rock Star #1 (Jada Jones)
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?
She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World
This book celebrates thirteen American women who helped shape our country through their tenacity, sometimes through speaking out, sometimes by staying seated, sometimes by captivating an audience. They all certainly persisted. This book features: Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Clara Lemlich, Nellie Bly, Virginia Apgar, Maria Tallchief, Claudette Colvin, Ruby Bridges, Margaret Chase Smith, Sally Ride, Florence Griffith Joyner, Oprah Winfrey, and Sonia Sotomayor.
Summer Birds: The Butterflies of Maria Merian
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.
Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors? The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell
Elizabeth was a strong-minded girl. As a young woman, it was her determination and strength that allowed her to graduate as the first female physician in 1849. Lighthearted illustrations and limited information make this an appealing introduction to an era and a pioneer.
Women in Biology
Take a peek inside the mysterious world of living things! Learn alongside the inspirational women who've changed the world with their scientific discoveries. This fun story of biology is a perfect place for young scientists to start their own journeys of discovery and wonder. Concepts covered in the Women in Biology book include: Cells, Receptors, DNA, Genes, Metamorphosis, Observations, Research, Hypotheses, Experiments, the Linnaean System, …and more!
Women in Chemistry
Jump into the awesomeness of chemistry! Discover the power of curiosity and resilience along with the women who have blazed a trail in the world of science. From ancient times to modern day, the exciting story of chemistry is sure to inspire the scientist in everyone. Concepts covered in the Women in Chemistry book include: Protons, Neutrons, Electrons, Atoms, Elements, The Periodic Table, Molecules, Chemical Structures, Chemical Reactions, Matter, Mass, Observations, Research, Hypotheses, Experiments, …and more!
Women in Physics
Discover the wonders of physics! Along the way, meet the incredible women who've taught us how the universe works. Inquisitive kids will love learning about the world through this engaging and accurate tale about physics. Concepts covered in the Women in Physics book include: Matter, Mass, Force, Gravity, Atoms, Elements, X-rays, Radioactivity, Observation, Research, Hypotheses, Experiments, …and more!
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