Our world has been shaped by the contributions of many great scientists over the centuries, both male and female. However, because of cultural biases, the contributions of women have not always been recognized or celebrated. Thankfully, women in science are being recognized more and more, and more young girls are being encouraged to pursue careers in science. We still have a long way to go, which is why I am so happy books like the ones on this list exist.
Now, time to get on my soapbox for a minute:
I often hear people encouraging parents to read these books with their daughters — AND I 100% AGREE WITH THEM. However, boy moms, we are not off the hook. We should also be reading these books with our sons. We need to raise our boys to be men who see women as their peers, personally and professionally. Both little boys and little girls need to know the hardships women have faced in the past, and the opportunities that await them now.
Diversity in books benefits everyone.
/end soapbox rant
I hope your children enjoy these awesome books about women in science as much as our family did!
15 Children’s Books About Women in Science
Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky — This book is best suited for tweens and teens, and it highlights amazing women throughout history, both well-recognized and lesser known. It’s also got gorgeous illustrations that I absolutely love. Even if your kiddos are a little young for the content, I recommend adding this book to your library now, because the visuals are as compelling as the content!
I am Jane Goodall by Brad Meltzer — I have been really impressed with Meltzer’s Ordinary People Change the World series, and this edition is no exception. This book is a great introduction to Goodall’s important work, written in a way that is easy for young children to understand. I read this aloud to my kindergartner and second grader, and they have gone back to it several times since to re-read favorite parts.
Ada Lovelace: Poet of Science: The First Computer Programmer by Diane Stanley — Before reading this book, I knew nothing of Ada Lovelace, daughter of the famous poet Lord Byron. Lovelace was a visionary, and her work with Charles Babbage became the foundation of computer programming. This book left me wanting to know more about Ada Lovelace, and my kids enjoyed learning about her as well.
Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World by Laurie Lawlor — Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring forever changed the way we look at the environment. This biography tells the story of her life, and how her important book came to be. This book is a great read any time of year, but is particularly suited to Earth Day discussions or lesson plans that revolve around nature.
Look Up! Henrietta Leavitt, Pioneering Woman Astronomer by Robert Burleigh — In a time when women were considered unfit for careers in science, Henrietta Leavitt was working at the Harvard Observatory, measuring star positions and sizes. She discovered patterns in the measurements, which were key in allowing astronomers to measure further and further away from Earth. This is a fantastic book that also provides a wealth of further information for those interested in astronomy.
Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women by Catherine Thimmesh — Do you know how many things you use every day were invented by women? This book takes a deep dive into things made by female inventors, including many things you and your children probably use on a daily basis. There are even some kid inventors featured! This book is best suited as a solo read for ages 10 and up, and as a read-aloud for younger elementary kids.
Hidden Figures (Young Readers’ Edition) by Margot Lee Shetterly — The true story that inspired an award-winning movie is also available in a version that is perfect for readers at a 3rd grade level and higher! Learn about the amazing, and until recently, overlooked African-American women who worked behind the scenes to put the first man on the moon. I highly recommend reading the book before you see the movie, but it’s a great choice no matter what.
To the Stars! The First American Woman to Walk in Space by Camilla Van Vleet and Dr. Kathy Sullivan — Kathy Sullivan always wanted to have a life full of adventure and exploration, but she lived in a time where she was told that only men had jobs like that. Nevertheless, she persisted, and became an astronaut and the first woman to walk in space. This book is great as a read-aloud to early elementary children.
Marie Curie (Little People, Big Dreams) by Isabel Sanchez Vergara — Marie Curie may be one of the most well-known female scientists, but there is still much to be learned in this book about her life. This is a great introduction to her discoveries, and is perfect for reading with older preschool and younger elementary kids.
Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist by Jess Keating — A visit to an aquarium as a child left Eugenie Clark with a passion for sharks. She devoted her life to studying them, and not only changed the perception of women in her field, but also challenged many myths about sharks and their behavior. The engaging story and bright illustrations make this book truly enjoyable.
The Doctor With an Eye for Eyes: The Story of Dr. Patricia Bath by Julia Finley Mosca — Dr. Patricia Bath grew up in the age of the Civil Rights Movement,and fought racism, sexism, and economic hardship to become a renowned doctor. This book even includes a note from Dr. Bath!
Caroline’s Comets: A True Story by Emily Arnold McCully — Caroline Herschel was a great astronomer at a time when female scientists were extremely rare. She is also the first woman to be paid for her work in the field of science! Herschel overcame many hardships as a child, and went on to make some truly amazing scientific discoveries. We loved this fascinating biography and its gorgeous illustrations!
Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code by Laurie Wallmark — “Amazing Grace” Hopper was never afraid to face a challenge head on, and for that reason she was able to make huge strides in the world of coding, doing much to give us the computers we have today. I absolutely adore both the style and the story of this book! It’s great for any child with an interest in coding.
Margaret and the Moon by Dean Robbins — Margaret Hamilton always loved math and numbers. That love of numbers led her to work for NASA, where she hand wrote the computer code that was used on the Apollo missions. This book tells her story of dedication and persistence.
The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: the Story of Dr. Temple Grandin by Julia Finley Mosca — Dr. Temple Grandin is not only an amazing woman in science, she is also a person who has autism. What many people viewed as a setback allowed her to see things in a different way and create innovations that have improved agriculture and farming all over the world.