While there has been a ton of media focus on girls in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) in the past few years, the stats still tell us that girls and women are underrepresented in these fields, especially minority women. It isn’t just the girls we need to tell that they can do this. It’s also the boys who we have to tell girls can do this just as well as you. So this is not a book list just for girls, it’s a list for all kids.
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Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty, is a wonderful tale of a little girl who is a born scientist. Ada is curious and a little chaotic too! She asks questions and seeks answers and can’t stop even when she is sent to the thinking chair. I love spirited and determined Ada. As annoyed as her parents are with some of her behavior, they ultimately accept and love her and her super curious mind.
Rosie Revere Engineer by Andrea Beaty is more than just a book about an engineer who happens to be a young girl; it is about not being afraid to be different, especially when being different is amazing. It’s not always easy to march to the beat of your own drummer, and Rosie has a hard time at first but after a pep talk from a special mentor, everything changes.
Zoey and Sassafras Series by Asia Citro are amazing, and I am not just saying that because the author is a close friend and I got a chance to watch her develop these books. Just click through and read all the Amazon reviews, these books aren’t just about science and magic they are magic. Zoey is a young scientist with an open mind and a heart for helping others. With her trusty cat Sassafras, that is just what they do, with science and a little bit of magic too. With many illustrations, these chapter books are accessible to much younger children but exciting enough to keep older kids engaged too. The series is my go to gift for birthday parties.
Goodnight Lab by Chris Ferrie is a tongue and cheek parody of Goodnight Moon that actually captures some of the reality of working in a lab ( or so I have been told by my friends who have). At first glance, it seems like this is just a joke book for parents, but kids love it too! While it doesn’t speak specifically to women in labs, it’s illustrations include a woman of color in the lab which is a nice touch!
Mary Walker Wears the Pants: The True Story of the Doctor, Reformer, and Civil War Hero by Cheryl Harness is an amazing story of Mary Walker. She was one of the first female doctors in the United States. She was also a Civil War surgeon and prisoner of war and a Medal of Honor recipient. If you have never heard of her don’t feel bad. I hadn’t either, but I am glad I have now. This was an awesome book to read with my daughter who like Mary marches to the beat of her own drummer, and thank goodness they do. Mary Walker carved many paths in more than just the world of medicine, and sharing her story is important.
Little Robot by Ben Hatke is a sweet little story about friendship with wonderful illustrations. A chance encounter between a little girl and a robot turns into friendship. It then cements into an adventure when bad robots try to take her robot friend away. She must save the day with courage and good thinking. This book is for early readers, but younger children love it too.
Have Fun Molly Lou Lemon by Patty Lovell is all about how Molly Lou Mellon uses her imagination to engineer toys when other children use toys that do all the playing for them. When a new neighbor Gertie moves in, Molly Lou Mellon stays true to herself even with Gertie’s super cool toys. She even shows her new friend how to use her imagination and her hands to build amazing things, like so many girls in STEM!
Marvelous Mattie: How Margaret E. Knight Became an Inventor by Emily Arnold McCully is a book that all kids should read. I had never heard of Mattie but I should have, we all should have. Many of her inventions are still in use today – Like the paper bag that stays upright. She made history many of us just didn’t know it. Her story of invention, entrepreneurship, and strength of character are stunning. She stands up for herself, learns from her mistakes, and follows her passion. Even though it’s not the easy or even the “only kinda hard” road. All the way she faces challenges and just keeps going. This is far more inspiring than any girl power book that I have read before, and it’s true.
The Girl Who Thought In Pictures; The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin by Julia Finley Mosca was sent to me by the publisher and I am so glad I was sent it to review. As many of you know Temple Grandin is a world-renowned scientist and autism advocate. This rhyming biography does a great job at introducing her life and contributions to science. It also shows why including others is so important. I like the message in this book that being different is not being lesser. Many kids of all walks of life need to hear that, not just girls interested in STEM. Another thing I love about this book is that most of the books out there about Autism have boys as the main character. This isn’t surprising since more boys are diagnosed than girls, but it makes this book that much more important!
The Doctor with An Eye for Eyes: The Story of Dr. Patricia Bath by Julia Finley Mosca came to me in the same package as the previous book, and I was just as glad to have it. This book looks at a different kind of adversity that girls and women of color in STEM must face. Dr. Bath is an amazing pioneer in her field of medicine. This book looks at the path she took to get there. The text is rhyming and fun to read, and the illustrations by Daniel Rieley complete the package. Biographies like this are a powerful tool. Using them in addition to fictional stories helps when teaching children about diversity and trying to encourage them to face challenges.
11 Experiments That Failed by Jenny Offill is hilarious. My son and I first read this book many years ago, and immediately he started designing his own experiments. The book follows a young scientist as she conducts 11 misguided experiments around her home, all with terrible, hilarious consequences. Besides the dry humor, the best part of this book is that each experiment follows the scientific method! Definitely a great lesson for girls in STEM!
The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires is an important addition to this list because while the end product is important, this story focuses on the process of creating, and failing. Making amazing things is awesome, but it’s not always an easy road. This book tackles the idea that failing, then trying again is part of the creation process.
Baby Loves Aerospace Engineering by Ruth Spiro is the most basic look at how things fly that your kids will love, especially toddlers! This is a colorful fun book that also teaches some pretty great things about aerospace engineering. For little ones that ever wondered how the airplane to Grandma’s house stays up this book covers that, in a kid-friendly, simplistic way. Like a few other books on this list, there is not focus on the character being a girl. It is just the norm, which is a nice choice to have on your bookshelf.