Ignite Their Curiosity: STEM Books Featuring African American Girls

Girls love Science, Technology, Engineering and Math…and they’re good at it too. Stereotypes that send the message that girls aren’t good at STEM can be discouraging. Children’s books like these are great for showing boys and girls that girls can … and do thrive in the STEM field. These books are also a great way to spark a child’s curiosity in STEM fields.

Representation matters! We love that most of these books are written by African American authors who are either working in STEM fields or who are passionate about encouraging African American girls to learn about STEM. We’ve marked those books with an (*) to make them easy to identify.

Helping Kids Rise believes all children deserve access to books that educate, empower and inspire and all of these books fit that mission!

*Olivia’s Doctor Adventures by Dr. Ashley Denmark, Illustrated by Mike Motz: Olivia’s Doctor Adventures allows children to explore the world of medicine by learning about different types of doctors through the eyes of a child. Take a journey with Olivia as she dives in and learns about surgeons, pediatricians, cardiologist and so much more! This is a great STEM book for children for all ages and will plant the seeds of possibility in their minds that they too can become doctors! (Ages 4–8)

Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty, Illustrated by David Roberts: Ada Twist’s head is full of questions. Ada has always been endlessly curious. Even when her fact-finding missions and elaborate scientific experiments don’t go as planned, Ada learns the value of thinking her way through problems and continuing to stay curious. (Ages 5–7)

Cece Love Science by Kimberly Derting and Shelli R. Johannes, Illustrated by Vashti Harrison: In this companion book to the bestselling I Love My Hair, a young boy, Miles, makes his first trip to the barbershop with his father. Like most little boys, he is afraid of the sharp scissors, the buzzing razor, and the prospect of picking a new hairstyle. But with the support of his dad, the barber, and the other men in the barbershop, Miles bravely sits through his first haircut.

Written in a reassuring tone with a jazzy beat and illustrated with graceful, realistic watercolors, this book captures an important rite of passage for boys and celebrates African-American identity. (Ages 2–5)

*Sasha Savvy Loves to Code by Sasha Ariel Alston, Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton: Sasha Savvy, is a super smart 10-year old African-American girl, who lives in Washington, DC. Sasha must choose which class to take for summer camp. Her mom discovers that the camp is offering a new class for girls on how to code. Sasha thinks this will be boring and doesn’t believe that she is good at computer stuff. Despite this, she decides to give it a chance and convinces her best friends Gabby Reyes and Ashley Webster, to attend the coding camp with her. Sasha’s mom, a Software Developer, gives her a unique formula to help her remember how to code but will it be enough to get her through a challenging first day of camp with bugs everywhere, computing errors, that is. (Ages 7–10)

*Abby Invents Unbreakable Crayons by Dr. Arlyne Simon, Illustrated by Diana Necsulescu: Tired of coloring with broken crayons, Abby invents the world’s first UNBREAKABLE CRAYONS. She even gets a patent to prove it! Through Abby’s failures and eventual success, she playfully introduces young readers to the scientific method. This book also contains a fun activity page, encouraging young readers to create their own unbreakable crayons. (Ages 5–8)

How to Code a Sandcastle by Josh Funk, Illustrated by Sara Palacios: All summer, Pearl has been trying to build the perfect sandcastle, but out-of-control Frisbees and mischievous puppies keep getting in the way! Pearl and her robot friend Pascal have one last chance, and this time, they’re going to use code to get the job done. Using fundamental computer coding concepts like sequences and loops, Pearl and Pascal are able to break down their sandcastle problem into small, manageable steps. If they can create working code, this could turn out to be the best beach day ever!
With renowned computer science nonprofit Girls Who Code, Josh Funk and Sara Palacios use humor, relatable situations, and bright artwork to introduce kids to the fun of coding. (Ages 4–8)

*Smart Sarah and the Magic of Science by Jacqueline Sanders-Blackman, Illustrated by Zeeshan Shahid: Smart Sarah discovers how rainbows, cupcakes and a curiosity about colors lead her to an appreciation for science. Smart Sarah’s family helps nurture her passion which exposes her to various careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and when you add A for Arts it’s referred to as STEAM. Smart Sarah’s story is the first in a series of books that follows her, her siblings and her parents as they show how STEM and STEAM are a part of our world. They impact us all, everyday and that it is important to be aware of it, engage, explore, challenge and even pursue very rewarding careers in a wide variety of industries. Now more than ever STEM and STEAM are full of opportunities and will continue to thrive. Many areas actually have open career opportunities that are going unfilled because there aren’t enough students pursuing them. So this series is to help the whole family become aware of those opportunities while being entertained. (Ages 6–10)

*Doc Like Mommy by Dr. Crystal Bowe, Illustrated by Mike Motz: A beautiful story that teaches you that you can be anything you want to be. (Grades 1–2)

*Jada Jones: Sleepover Scientist by Kelly Starling Lyons, Illustrated by Nneka Myers and Vanessa Brantley-Newton: Jada is hosting her first sleepover, and she has lots of cool scientific activities planned: kitchen chemistry, creating invisible ink, and even making slime! But when her friends get tired of the lessons and just want to hang out, can Jada figure out the formula for fun and save the sleepover? (Ages 6–8)

*Sage Carrington Eighth Grade Science Sleuth by Justin Scott Parr: Every 12-year-old’s two favorite words: Summer vacation. No cold weather. No school. Just months of free time ahead.

Best friends Sage Carrington and Isabel Flores are making the most of their summer break when they discover an antique treasure map near the Washington Monument.

But when faced with difficult clues and a bully in the form of Edwin Hooser, the tween girls must use every bit of imagination, drive, and intellect to outsmart Edwin and decipher the map.

Join Sage and Isabel on a journey through the nation’s capital as they try to solve the puzzle and recover a priceless bounty. (Ages 8–12)

You can find more Diverse STEM children’s books in our online bookstore. Disclosure: We earn a small fee for any purchases made through our online bookstore. There is no additional cost to you.

Helping Kids Rise is on a mission to improve the lives of children and the people who love them through literacy, education, and social justice awareness. We do this by highlighting diverse and inclusive children’s books and resources that promote education, literacy, and social justice awareness. We also partner with schools, families, and children’s advocacy organizations to promote access to children’s books for under-served and underrepresented communities. To learn more or to partner with us, connect with us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, and our website: www.helpingkidsrise.org.




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